Each week our team of experienced senior road testers pick out a new model from the world of innovative, premium and performance badges, and put it through its paces.
AUG 14th 2017
The Goodwood Test: BMW M6
The current M6 has grown, as all model lines have, to incorporate new niches, and so the present offering stands at coupe, convertible or the four-door Gran Coupe, which purists may wince at but marketers have realised answers a question no-one previously thought to ask.
The history of the M6 is a lustrous one, with praise for its combination of sharp looks, M-badged performance and interior luxury and space of the 6-Series. It was first produced in 1983, with the stunning E24 chassis; sales stopped in 1989. Six years later, the second-generation M6 arrived with a Chris Bangle-esque striking coupe silouhette and bulbous rear; it was offered as a coupe or convertible, and production ran until 2010. Two years later, the third iteration arrived, followed by a bonkers 592bhp Competition Package edition, in keeping with other M-badged BMW models. In 2015 there was a minor facelift, and a GT version ran in various GT championships with a few modifications to the engine.
If you’re going to go M-badge, go large. Our test car was painted Mexico Blue, a vibrant £4,000 BMW Special Paint and well worth it, with an Opal White Merino full leather interior. The result was Miami Boulevard on wheels; not a choice for wallflowers as you get an awful lot of looks from the public, and that’s before you fire up the engine. The M6 is distinguished from the standard 6-series coupe by the usual M accoutrements: larger wheels (20in black alloys), aggressive body kit, quad exhausts, M carbon-ceramic brakes and all-important M-badging.
Inside, pupil-dilating white leather aside, it’s still a thankfully sober interior, with the fantastic iDrive system for operating the infotainment system – we still don’t warm to gesture recognition, mainly because you look like an idiot gesticulating wildly at thin air). Our car had an Anthracite alcantara headlining, and Bowers & Wilkins Advanced audio system (£3,750). Other optional luxuries included soft-close doors, reversing camera, seat ventilation, lane-change warning system, surround view, TV, real-time traffic info, concierge services and speed-limit display which is the best £250 you’ll ever spend.
Predictably epic, in the best Grand Touring sense. This is an M6 that feels worthy of the badge. That 4.4-litre, twin-turbo V8 engine throws out 552bhp, with 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds, and the seven-speed automatic is devastatingly fast in its gear changes. You run out of road in the UK way before you can explore the performance of this car, which makes it extremely frustrating, but at least you look the part, at 30mph.
Unlike many high-performance BMWs, the ride isn’t overly stiff, unless you really want it to be, thanks to variable suspension settings; something of the grand tourer character remains, meaning that you could get away with this as a family car… plenty of boot space, etc… The steering also has that BMW well-weighted precision that is lacking in competitors. Yes, it’s a big and heavy car, but it’s not pretending to be an Audi R8.
That colour scheme really gives this car the whiff of unadulterated M-badged joy reminiscent of '80s M BMWs. You want a cassette player and Salt n Pepa booming out. Have it in black, or grey, if you must, and you’ll still get a lot of pleasure out of superlative Teutonic engineering that reminds you why you didn’t buy an Audi or Mercedes or Jaguar. There’s just something inescapably satisfying about driving a BMW that hasn’t changed in 40 years: a combination of best-in-class steering, dynamic yet reassuring chassis and clever power delivery.
Price as tested: £126,290
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