The 373 kW BMW M6 is here. It is a 6 Series like no other and yours for a cool R1 040 000, but one has to wonder, is it a true sports car or just a tastefully beefed-up grand tourer?The 373 kW BMW M6 is here. It is a 6 Series like no other and yours for a cool R1 040 000, but one has to wonder, is it a true sports car or just a tastefully beefed-up grand tourer?
Whereas the now-discontinued 8 Series coupés were never regarded as sporty (the versions on the South African market, at any rate), the M6 has the credentials to usurp the M5’s title of being the Munich-based firm’s ultimate sports car… BMW says that the M6 is 120 kg lighter (so has a better power-to-weight ratio), a shorter wheelbase and lower centre of gravity than its sibling.
Compared with a garden-variety 6 Series (which will soon be joined by the 287 kW 4,8-litre V8-powered 650i model), the M6’s chassis and suspension have been uprated. It retains the interior dimensions and creature comforts of BMW’s other Sixes, but the M6’s body has been only discreetly beefed up (deeper front spoiler with enlarged air ducts for added cooling, 19-inch forged aluminium wheels with five filigree double spokes, brawny rear air dam with its characteristic diffuser opening and two pairs of sonic boom-producing M Power double exhaust tips, for example).
But the heart of the Munich musclecar is a variable dual-VANOS camshaft control-equipped, F1-inspired multivalve five-litre V10 that produces 75 kW per litre, 520 N.m of maximum torque and revs up to 8 250 r/min. BMW claims the M6 will accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 4,6 seconds and manage 0-200 km/h in 14 seconds. Top speed is restricted to 250 km/h, but the car could reach 330 km/h if the electronic limiter didn’t kick in to peg the M6’s velocity.
The Munich-based company claims the M5 and M6’s gearboxes are the world’s only sequential transmissions with seven gears and Drivelogic. The driver shifts gears in the SMG transmission either from the selector lever or via paddles in the steering wheel. Compared with the conventional SMG transmission, the new generation of SMG technology performs the entire gearshift process 20 per cent faster than its predecessor, it is claimed.
The Drivelogic function offers the driver a total of 11 gearshift options. Six of the driving programs come in the sequential manual function (S-mode). Driving in S-mode, the driver shifts all gears manually. In the automatic shift mode (Drive = D-mode), the transmission shifts the seven gears automatically as a function of the driving program currently in use, the driving situation, road speed, and loud pedal position.
In addition, the M6’s speed-sensing M Differential Lock gives the car better driving stability and optimum traction particularly when accelerating out of a bend. The differential is said to offer crucial advantages in terms of traction, for example "with the drive wheels running on very different surfaces with a wide range of different frictional coefficients", BMW explains.
The latest generation of DSC Dynamic Stability includes M Dynamic mode, which allows the driver to switch off DSC whenever he/she wishes by pressing a button on the selector lever cover.
Electronic Damper Control on the BMW M6 offers the driver the choice of three programs available on demand: Comfort, Normal, and Sports, with the car’s chassis and suspension ranging from sporting and firm all the way to – relatively – smooth and comfortable. The driver operates EDC via the MDrive button on the steering wheel or the push button next to the SMG selector lever.
Extra-large high-performance brakes complete with cross-drilled extra-low-weight compound brake discs provide stopping power for the M6. The double-piston swing calipers, made of aluminium, are optimised for weight and stiffness, and ensure stopping distances shorter than ever before: Applying the brakes from a speed of 100 km/h, the BMW M6 is claimed to come to a standstill after just 36 metres and takes less than 140 metres to reach a stop from a speed of 200 km/h.
To top things off, literally, the M6 has a carbon-fibre roof that is significantly lighter than an aluminium, let alone steel, equivalent. The result is a significant lowering of the car’s centre of gravity.
To make best use of the car’s performance capabilities, the driver can press a power button on the selector lever’s cover to activate special engine characteristics on demand.
When the driver starts the engine, the BMW M6 automatically sets off in its comfort-oriented P400 performance program. But by pressing the button, the P500 sports program is activated and changes the responses of the engine, making it even more direct and responsive and allowing for maximum power output. Woosh!