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BMW M6 Coupé review (2012 onwards)
What - BMW M6 coupé
Date - June 2012
Where - Malaga, Spain
Price - £93,795
Available - September, 2012
Key rivals - Jaguar XKR-S, Mercedes CLS 63 AMG, Maserati GranTurismo Sport
Summary - The M5's sexier sister has awesome performance and dynamic ability but lacks the X factor.
We like - Thunderous performance, grip and poise, mile-melting comfort and refinement.
We don't like - Disappointing engine note, not as practical as M5, lacks charisma of best rivals.
The M6 coupé is back in MK 2 form, more chiselled and densely packed with technology than ever. Powered by the magnificent 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 from the M5, it checks in as the quickest and most powerful two-door car BMW has ever made.
But some things don't change and, as before, the M6 has to work a little harder to make more of a case for itself than its iconic saloon sibling.
62mph from rest in 4.2 seconds
While there's an obvious Q-car allure to a deliberately stealthy and properly practical four-door saloon that can blow the doors off most supercars, the mechanically all but identical M6 coupé (also available in cabrio form) sacrifices space and practicality for a swoopy profile and predatory presence you can spot a mile off.
For this you pay an extra £20k which puts the M6 in contention with some notably talented coupé competition from the likes of Aston Martin, Jaguar, Mercedes and Maserati in the £90-95k bracket. It's got the firepower, the new M6, but does it have the flair to back it up?
It may have a carbon fibre roof and alloy-skinned doors, but the M6 coupé simply isn't the weight-watching sort. And, to be honest, there's no reason for it to be. Packing 552bhp and hitting its 502lb ft torque peak from just 1500rpm, its 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 treats 1850 kilos of mass like a crisp packet in a storm, blowing to 62mph from rest in 4.2 seconds and 200 km/h (or 124mph) in 12.6 seconds.
Just as the previous generation M6 was defined by its engine, so is this one. But while the rather manic naturally-aspirated V10 gave the old car heaps of character - not all of it welcome, though the chilling howl of the engine note most definitely was - the blown V8's broad spectrum urge makes this replacement quicker (but less exciting).
an extraordinary engine that pulls savagely
Partly it's because it doesn't sound as good. Not much in the automotive sonic canon is as evocative as an on-song V10 but, apart from a boomy woofle at idle, the twin-turbo motor sounds more like a big bore exhaust 'four' for much of the time.
That said, it's an extraordinary engine that pulls savagely from just above tickover and doesn't let up until the 7200rpm rev limit calls time. The 7-speed M DCT double-clutch transmission can even be persuaded to hype the action on the fastest of its three shift-speed settings but, really, there's no need. The M6 will effortlessly surge past normal traffic on just a whiff of throttle, whichever gear it's in.
Ride and handling
It's not all about blitzing straight line pace, though. The chassis, assisted by a plethora of user-configurable electronic dynamic modes, encapsulates everything BMW knows about how a high performance car should handle and ride.
Yet it's hard to escape the impression it's all devoted to containing the mammoth performance safely and efficiently, with a myriad of driving modes. That said, few heavyweight rivals feel quite as nailed and composed when you're really going for it.
One reason for choosing the M6 coupé over the Convertible, apart from saving £5k, is that it feels a little more responsive and precise. Even in its default everyday setting, it contains its mass superbly and when we were let loose on the challenging Ascari circuit in southern Spain, it refused to be phased by the rollercoaster swoops and
To appreciate the M6 at its best, you need to be travelling very quickly
Our test cars were equipped with the optional carbon composite brakes which offered good top-of-the-pedal feel and soaked up lap after lap of punishment without complaint. The initially rather inert steering came alive here too, acquiring fine sense of accuracy and feel.
Mind you, for the hot laps, it made sense to select the most extreme 'Sport Plus' mode which really is quite hardcore and delivered a level of entertainment seldom experienced at saner speeds on the road.
And that's part of the problem. To appreciate the M6 at its best, you need to be travelling very quickly. On the road it feels accomplished, friendly and effortlessly rapid but less engaging.
It's all nicely driver-centric with numerous M-Sport aesthetic flourishes and skilfully marries the sporty with the sumptuous. Gadget lovers will be in seventh heaven figuring out the iDrive controller's hidden layers of complexity and grappling with the 486 possible engine/transmission/chassis set-up combinations.
Life won't be quite so sweet for rear seat passengers. The M6 is more generous 2+2 than genuine four-seater like a Mercedes CL. The 460-litre boot is a decent enough size, though.
Make use of the BMW's prodigious torque rather than its ability to rev with racer-like enthusiasm and you're more likely to replicate the official combined 28.5mpg and 232 g/km of CO2. Not unreasonable for a heavy car with the drop on greased lightning.
The MSN Cars verdict
The M6 is undoubtedly a towering achievement that, via the agents of technology and immaculate engineering, combines barely believable performance with tremendously capable handling and, if required, a supple and comfortable ride.
Its strengths are those of its M5 saloon stablemate, as are its weaknesses - a rather uninspiring engine note and a slight aloofness that dulls driver rewards on the road. It looks rather good, though only potential customers will be able to say whether the shape lights their fire to the tune of £20k over an M5.
And it's impossible to ignore that more charismatic rivals such as the Jaguar XKR-S and Maserati GranTurismo Sport present tempting alternatives.
Need to know
Engine, petrol: 4.4 V8 twin-turbo
Power, hp: 552
Torque, lb ft: 502
0-62 mph, secs: 4.2
Top speed, mph: 155
Mpg, combined: 28.5
CO2, g/km / Tax: 232/35%
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