Renault teams up with F1 champions Red Bull Racing to create a very special new Megane Renaultsport
BMW M6 Convertible review (2012 onwards)
What - BMW M6 Convertible
Where - Bracknell, UK
Date - July 2012
Price - £98,995
Available - Now
Key rivals - Porsche 911 Cabriolet Turbo, Mercedes SL 63 AMG, Aston Martin DB9 Vantage
Summary: a brilliant car in terms of abilities, but lacking the soul a sporting V8 drop-top should have.
We like: extremely fast, extremely responsive, extremely advanced, gorgeous cabin, roof-up engine note
We don't like: hard to truly love, technologically overpowering at times, roof-down engine note, too fast to truly gel with British roads?
The BMW M6 Convertible has more power than a Porsche 911 Turbo Convertible. Not just any old drop-top 911 Turbo either, but the tuned-up Turbo S version, retailing for a cool £133,000. Which makes the M6's list price of £98,995 a positive bargain, right?
Well, that's the big question. BMW's latest M range has had an interesting response so far. Some, such as MSN Cars, love the stunning M5 but reserve admiration rather than true love for the £20k more expensive M6 Coupe. Others don't understand either of them. Can this M6 Convertible's open-roof excitement be the car that convinces everyone?
There's no doubting it looks impressive, particularly with the test car's optional 20-inch alloy wheels. Images don't fully portray the visual aggression this car carries, particularly from the pumped-up front end, whose voluminous air intakes carry real menace.
Lowering the roof, which you can do on the move up to 25mph, dilutes this effect a little. It's more hardcore as a carbon fibre-roof coupe, the M6. But it's nevertheless elegant with the roof down, and will be just the thing to wow boulevard-cruising power-loving Americans.
This car is exceptionally fast, an effect made all the more awe-inspiring with the roof down. 560hp and 501lb ft of torque that's deployed from just 1,500rpm means the 4.4-litre V8 has just the slightest softness of twin-turbo delay before it starts challenging the grip of the rear tyres once again: you'll see the traction control light blink even at dual carriageway speeds (lucky there's a smart electric differential for corners).
It's a powerful speed limiter that caps it to just 155mph all-out: the way it hurtles forwards even at illegal speeds reveals the might it packs. The sublime seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox adds to the excitement with eyeblink-fast shifts, often with a snap-crack from the exhausts for added rewards. Use it often to keep the revs high and the response sharp: let them drop and the turbo lag is magnified.
Until you put the roof down, the engine sounds great. All dirty, snarling V8 rasp with a delectable bark at high revs (and the launch control howl from standstill is superb). Then, the roof goes down and it turns into a Subaru WRX, complete with burbling, woofling exhaust and sonorous-smooth but soulless engine note.
Seriously, it sounds like a four-cylinder with the roof down. The rush of turbo noise is fairly neat at low revs, but this is no Mercedes AMG: that it sounds so good with the roof up is because that's a computer-generated noise rather than the engine's actual note. Something revealed with the roof down: pity.
Ride and handling
It feels odd at first: the steering is quick and direct but very light, yet the ride seems stiff and a bit jiggly at slower speeds. The first sign that this won't be a car you get to learn in a hurry. Proof: you speed up, the ride becomes beautifully pliant and comfortable. Then you select 'Sport +' for the steering, and it becomes rock-hard heavy. The first few miles are all extremes.
The configurability of this car is part of its charm but part of that initial struggle you'll have with it. Basically, you need to accept it won't be perfect out the box: through tweaking dampers, accelerator response, steering weight and gearbox change points, you'll arrive at a satisfying solution, but only with time. That there are TWO configurable 'M' settings buttons on the steering wheel tells you plenty.
In its ideal 'sporting' guise, the M6 corners flat, has massive grip, turns in incredibly sharply and shows an agility much at odds with the considerable width it portrays behind the wheel. Not as sporty as an M car ought to be, perhaps, but as sporty as buyers of a four-seat performance coupe will ever need.
And then, when you sit back, it cruises with delicious roll-along fluidity, suspension soaking up much of what British roads can throw at it far better than an M car ought. Remember who the M6 Convertible is aimed at and its blend of dynamic attributes is both understandable and praiseworthy.
And the Convertible bit? Oddly, the very slight lack of stiffness it displays roof-down is actually advantageous at slower speed, seeming to take the edge off the stiffness. Really, though, you'll only split it from the coupe on a racetrack: on the road, the compromises are minimal. You can justify them if you like roof-down motoring.
The big M6 conceals a big interior that nevertheless manages to feel tight on space in the back. It's all about those up front, from the lavish leather seats and their indulgent side bolstering, to the massive sweeping dash that's a real visual treat when viewed roof-down from the outside.
Materials quality is brilliant and the design touches, from the BMW Z8-style three-spoke steering wheel to the complex blend of materials throughout, help it carry the near-£100k price tag. Indeed, our car had £15k of options on top, to make it feel even more special. £5k of rich leather, anyone?
Lack of V8 rumble apart, roof-down cruising is painless. Wind rustle is minimal and a single electric window switch controlling all four windows helps you maximise open air motoring whenever you slow down enough mitigate windows-down wind roar. Hood operation isn't the fastest, mind: there may be a bit of thumb-twiddle.
The BMW M6 Convertible offers an extra trick others don't, too. The roof has a rear buttress design, meaning the rear window is vertical - and can be lowered independently of the roof itself. Here is mechanical fans' best 'open' compromise: lower this glass window to interact with the rushing quad exhausts, yet still enjoy the sound-generated V8 rumble from inside...
Economy and safety
BMW switched from the old 5.0-litre V8 to this new 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 in the interests of fuel efficiency. It has worked: official figures say it averages 27.4mpg and emits 239g/km CO2, both implausibly green for such a powerful car. 560hp, remember...
It has stop-start too. There's no roof-down V8 rumble at idle to enjoy, so you may as well kill it completely and save the fuel. Besides, the rasp it makes on restart is worth a few moments' silence. Worry not about rollover safety roof-down, either: pop-up protection hoops and a reinforced windscreen surround see to that.
The MSN Cars verdict
Fast, purposeful-looking, richly appointed inside and a fine all-rounder on the road, the searingly vast M6 Convertible is an advanced mechanical engineer's dream. Its headline 560hp power output is fully supported by an arsenal of cutting-edge under-the-skin componentry that makes it one of the most sophisticated sporting cars on sale. But yet...
It's sportier than you'd expect, but not as sporty as you'd hope (albeit in keeping with the needs of its buyers). It's fast, but perhaps too clinically so for British roads. Simply put, for all its technological brilliance, it lacks the edge of character that can help make its £99k list price a bargain. One to respect, then, but we'd rather have the fantastic M5, and spend the £20k saving on a secondhand Z4 M...
|Need to know|
|Engines, petrol||4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, eight-speed DCT, rear-wheel drive|
|Torque, lb ft||501|
|0-62 mph, secs||4.3|
|Top speed, mph||155 (limited)|
related stories on msn
Latest Cars videos
On the road with the landmark Lambos for special golden anniversary drive.
Date 13/05/13, Duration 4:26, Views 9376