How much power can be practically transferred to the road by a rear-wheel-driven car? M Division chief executive, Frank van Meel, recently suggested that BMW M cars’ peak power outputs will probably be pegged at 600 hp (441 kW), you can read the article here). That is the exact peak power output of the latest, facelifted M6 Coupé with Competition Package, the subject of this test. Traction is always the limiting factor when we attempt to achieve the claimed 0-100 km/h acceleration times of test cars – so let’s see what this Bimmer will do.

Wheelspin and adrenaline
It was with trepidation that we drove to CAR’s traditional test strip and from the sombre look on road test engineer Peter Palm’s face I knew he was worried too. BMW claims an optimal zero-to-100 km/h time of 3,90 seconds for this model, but having tested several M cars in the recent past, we know their launch control functions are temperamental at the best of times…

Then it was time to hang on. Screeching tyres and a rear-view mirror filled with expensive Pirelli smoke marked the first attempt, during which time two black stripes (of about 30m in length) were grinded into the asphalt. 5,0 seconds. Surely this could not be? We achieved a low 4,31 seconds with the previous M6 that produced “only” 412 kW. The following runs did not yield much better results. We attained the best time of 4,71 seconds with all the traction control nannies activated to curb excessive wheelspin: perhaps 441 kW was just too much?

As we were determined to post a representative time, I returned to the test strip a couple of days later, but this time sans Mr Palm. To compensate for his mass, 80 kg of sandbags had to be loaded into the car and they were strategically placed in the boot to increase the normal force between the rear wheels and the tar. Either my “workaround” helped or the launch-control function was in a better mood, but the M6 rocketed to 100 km/h in 4,22 seconds...

The in-gear acceleration test also demonstrated that 441 kW would prompt the beefed-up M6 to break traction at will at any speed below 80 km/h; only the strongest electronic leash could prevent imminent disaster when the full 700 N.m was deployed. The 20 km/h increments from 40 km/h to 140 km/h were dispatched in supercar-rivalling times of around a second.

More than a one-trick pony
The ballistic straight-line performance may paint a one dimensional picture of Munich’s finest, but in reality the M6 offers so much more. Externally, the sleek Coupé’s styling is only slightly tweaked: this facelifted iteration featires new LED headlights and a re-designed kidney grille. A quartet of bespoke black exhaust tips are integral to the Competition Package, but overall the meteoric BMW appears classy, if with a fair degree of athleticism.

Inside the BMW craftsmanship is clear to see, with only top-notch materials employed on  the flowing surfaces of the cabin. The updated 6 Series benefits from an updated iDrive controller and infotainment screen. The driver’s seat offers a near-perfect compromise between long-distance comfort and track-ready bolstering, depending on your mood.

An M6 for everyone
When toggling through the test unit’s suspension, steering, throttle and transmission settings it became evident that the M6 can be tailored to almost anyone’s taste. In full comfort mode, it was docile enough for everyday driving chores, although the responses to throttle and steering inputs felt somewhat remote. Select a more aggressive setting, such as the medium electronic stability control (MDM) mode, however, and the BMW feels instantly unbridled.

Handling
In this configuration, the M6 with Competition Package can carve up sweeping mountain passes with glee; its mass penalty relative to thoroughbred sportscars is its only impediment. Grip levels are high and steering the car on the throttle is a lark by virtue of the oodles of power it has readily on tap. Be wary of disabling the traction control altogether, however, as the M6 will not hesitate to “bite back”: controllable drifts on corner exits when in MDM mode can degenerate into leary slides that may lead to serious damage to man and machine.

The parallel universe
Where the M6 really comes into its own is on the motorway; it can dispatch considerable distances, at heady speeds, with effortless aplomb. A driver might imagine they are in a parallel universe with no speed limits, where overtaking rows of cars is as natural as the act of breathing. The South African-specification Competition Package includes the optional Driver’s Package that raises the BMW’s top speed limit to a sensational 305 km/h and, judging by the way the M6 kept gathering momentum after its velocity eclipsed the three-figure km/h mark, we believe it could easily leave most road vehicles trailing in its wake.

Summary
Is the ‘Package worth an extra R147 600? In terms of a perceptible gain in performance for the purposes of everyday use, we’d suggest not, because the standard car is no slouch by any means. The reserve of extra pace could only be exploited on an unrestricted road (such as an autobahn, which is not available in our country), but having said that, the emotional appeal of driving an ultra-exclusive performance BMW could prove irresistible to some buyers. Even while being passed by a screaming hot hatch while cruising below the speed limit, an M6 with Competition Package will affix a smirk to a driver’s face – they’ll revel in the fact they could blast past their antagonist with the ferocity of pulverising a fly with a sledge hammer.

FAST FACTS
BMW M6 Coupé with Competition Package
Price: R1 826 600
Engine: 4,4-litre, V8, turbopetrol
Power: 441 kW @ 6 000-7 000 r/min
Torque:  700 N.m @ 1 500-6 000 r/min
Trans: 7-spd dual-clutch
0-100 km/h:  3,9 secs*
Top speed:  305 km/h
Fuel consumption: 9,9 L/100 km *
CO2: 231 g/km*
*Claimed figures