The Freelander heads to Eastnor for a real test of its off-road ability
BMW M6 Gran Coupe review (2013 onwards)
BMW drops its 560hp V8 into the sleek 6 Series Gran Coupe for a convincing M6 package
What – BMW M6 Gran Coupe
Date – April 2013
Where – Munich, Germany
Price – From £97,490
Available – 25 May 2013
Key rivals – Mercedes CLS 63 AMG, Porsche Panamera Turbo, Bentley Continental GT, BMW M5 + BMW E30 M3 + new kitchen
We like – Looks fantastic, superb interior, searing performance, purposeful chassis, bespoke coupe feel from within, up to four can come along with you
We don’t like – Price, purpose not immediately clear, patience needed to tune it into a true M, did we mention price?
If the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe was a good idea, an M6 version is little short of genius. Blend its distinctive looks with some M focus and M-engineered performance, giving four people the chance to enjoy a low-slung BMW performance coupe (and BMW a chance to match the Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG).
Genius but for one thing: a staggering £97,490 list price. An M5 costs £73k. This shares the same V8 engine and gearbox but, while it’s a completely different car (both much more stylish and not likely to be confused with a 520d M Sport), comparisons are inevitable.
...don’t expect it to be sportier and more focused than the M5
So, you’ll buy the M6 Gran Coupe four-door over a £25k cheaper BMW M5 four-door because? Luxury, says BMW. Just because it’s got coupe in its name, don’t expect it to be sportier and more focused than the M5, because it isn’t. The emphasis here is very much on extra decadence, greater comfort and much more standout style.
Again, if you thought the Gran Coupe pretty, you’ll love this. BMW’s enhanced the lines with M-format huge front air intakes, side gills, quad exhausts and the most amazing 20-inch double-spoke alloys. A carbon fibre roof crowns it, with a new twist on the classic ‘double bubble’ design. It looks superb.
It’s a big car, more than five metres long and 1.9 metres wide. An M5 is shorter and narrower – and nearly 60mm less tall. It’s this impression of coupe-style height that really strikes you as you approach: all the better for viewing that carbon roof, whose lack of weight further lowers the M6 Gran Coupe’s centre of gravity.
A 560hp V8, whose twin turbos have been designed specifically to minimise lag, means the M6 Gran Coupe is not short of pace. It boasts a fulsome 501lb ft of torque too, which kicks in at just 1500rpm and remains flat until 5750rpm. This means pulling power is always voluminous and nearly always immediate, accompanied by a high-tech and super-smooth engine note.
The orange traction control light will become a staple of swift junction getaways; on a damp road, we even saw it blinking at 150km/h. Using all the M6 Gran Coupe’s performance sometimes has you slightly on edge (and wishing for four-wheel drive). That’s how fast it is – do not make the mistake of thinking this luxo-M car lacks pace. It doesn’t.
A seven-speed M-DCT twin clutch gearbox is active and reactive, but only if you turn up all the shift parameters to ‘hot’. Otherwise it changes up early meaning acceleration comes after a downshift pause. Real metal paddleshifters are satisfying to use but once finally dialled up, ‘sport’ mode is clever enough to not need them.
Real metal paddleshifters are satisfying to use
And the brakes: despite the £97k list price, the gold-caliper carbon ceramic anchors that proved so monstrously powerful and progressive on the test car are not standard. They cost an extra £7395. The standard steel discs have blue calipers but we can’t say how they perform or whether the extra spend is worth it.
Ride and handling
It’s very rapid, then, but the M6 Gran Coupe doesn’t make you suffer for its searing performance. Indeed, at first, it’s deceptively plush and composed. Unnervingly so: this is meant to be a snarling supersaloon, after all. Indeed, an M saloon. Yet it feels just as pliant as a 640d.
The ride is actually one of the car’s finest accomplishments, despite 20-inch wheels and liquorice tyres. You sense it using suspension travel to shrug off high-speed surface scars, and the subtle but cushioned damping is very luxurious. Even when you start jabbing the dash buttons to tighten up the adaptive suspension, it remains supple.
Luckily, pressing those buttons helps the rest of it find focus too. Steering becomes meatier, gearbox stops upshifting early and the throttle becomes more alert. The 640d becomes the M car you’d hoped for – indeed, switch back to comfort mode and the difference in character is pronounced.
It’s far from a bruiser even in M mode. It’s too cultured for that. The satisfaction comes from the tight, purposeful accuracy of the firm steering, the agility, the razor sharp responses of the car and that brilliant body control over challenging surfaces. Grip levels are high, cornering forces pronounced attitude determined. A different sort of M, then, but an interpretation in keeping with the nature of the 6 Gran Coupe.
The interior is lovely. It’s the same as in other 6 Series models but even more richly trimmed, with lots of leather and contrast stitching. You get in via frameless doors, drop down into sculptural and very low-set seats (in contrast to the M5) and both driver and front seat passenger feel nicely cocooned.
The design remains impactful and passengers can’t help caressing the plush materials. On the M6 Gran Coupe, this extends to the rooflining, made from black Alcantara with a neat leather centre section. There are recessed sections either side of it, mirroring the roof, creating a stylish effect particularly from the rear.
Unlike the M5, it’s a four-seat layout. BMW insists you can get a third person in the rear but, perched on a hard seat base with head scrunched into the rooflining and legs straddling the huge climate control-clad centre console, they’ll hate you for it. One smaller grumble that front seat passengers will have: unlike on Mercedes, the seatbelts don’t have a motorised arm that hands you the seatbelt. They’re a surprisingly irritating stretch to locate as you put them on.
The interior is lovely... with lots of leather and contrast stitching
BMW’s proud of the steering wheel, which has a twin-bar spoke that mirrors the wheels and the front grille. It’s as pleasing to hold as it is to look at – yes, an M car with a wheel that isn’t too spongy, over-padded and thick! They’re slowly getting it.
We are getting greedy. Last year, 28.5mpg from a 560hp V8 seemed exceptional. It’s still impressive, but the equally monstrous new Mercedes E 63 AMG does a little more besides, and emits a little less CO2 too.
Chances are you’ll never see this figure either. Yes, it has stop-start and other EfficientDynamics technologies, but BMW M cars aren’t bought for economy runs – and when you’re on it, the M6 Gran Coupe knows how to drink fuel. On the test, we drained a quarter of the 80 litre tank in 110km.
The MSN Cars verdict
We didn’t know what to expect with the M6 Gran Coupe. Even BMW admits it’s a brand new sector that doesn’t have a rulebook. Its interpretation is that it doesn’t need to be as raw as other M cars, but does need to offer the step-up performance, purposeful styling and super-high limits.
In this regard, it succeeds. At first you’ll wonder what makes it an M6 rather than a lesser M Performance car. Answer: the engine, the sophistication, the engineering, the purity. It’s not a traditional M, but it’s a convincing one. Once we understood it, we liked it a lot. Then again, we weren’t paying for it…
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