This V-10 powertrain is certainly more tractable and enjoyable to drive with the six-speed manual than with the SMG transmission that originally was the sole offering in the M5 sedan. A car with 500 horsepower and ten cylinders under the hood has an undeniable allure, but there’s still something somewhat strange, somewhat un-BMW-like, about this M6 coupe. It’s not a sport coupe, really, since it weighs so much and is so big. Yet it doesn’t have the grace of a true luxury coupe, either, like the Mercedes-Benz CL. I don’t quite know what to make of it.
That said, the M6’s interior is quite nice, and I very much like the black carbon-fiber trim, which is a surprisingly cheap option, at $300, in a cabin where the Silverstone II Merino leather costs $3500. The ambience here reminds me of a sharply tailored Hugo Boss suit. The heads-up display is $1200 very poorly spent, in my opinion. I am still amused by the fact that, when BMW introduced this option several years ago, the company acted like it had stumbled upon some brilliant new concept, never acknowledging that it had appeared in Pontiacs and other GM cars years earlier.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
Just last week I was complaining about the M6 and how much I generally disliked the 6-series. Then road test editor Marc Noordeloos tossed me the key to this car for a night, and I almost changed my mind. The V-10 is fantastic, and I’m almost willing to tolerate the 6-series to enjoy the power delivery of the V-10.
My main complaint about the 6-series is similar to Joe’s. The car is huge compared with a 3-series, but it doesn’t offer the interior volume of a Mercedes CL. It’s far too heavy to be a real sports car, but it’s more than just a big coupe. It just never made sense to me.
Then I got another chance behind the wheel of an M6. I’d completely forgotten how amazing this engine is. Push the M button and unleash the whole 500 hp and suddenly it doesn’t matter how huge the car is. You’re looking at 100 mph before fourth gear, and there’s about 8000 rpm at your disposal. You don’t get AMG-like torque, but the high revs and surprisingly wide powerband make up for it.
I was enjoying the V-10 so much I wasn’t paying any attention to my speed when I spotted a state trooper on my morning commute. The road was otherwise empty, and my Passport lit up and started making a racket. Thankfully, the brakes are every bit as impressive as the engine. I was able to rein in all the power in the nick of time and proceeded to be more responsible for the rest of my commute.
I’m still not sold on the 6-series, but I’m in love with the V-10.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
It’s funny how different modern BMWs are from the ones I grew up with-the heaploads of technology, the excessive weight, the focus on luxury over driver enjoyment-and yet how similar they are in personality. The modern M6 fits the same demographic/parts-bin hole as the “old” E24-chassis M6 (1987-1989), in that it pairs the driveline and relative speed of an M5 with a less practical, more expensive set of coupe clothes.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of the current 6’s looks. The droopy nose and bustle-back trunk do nothing for me, and while the M body changes help, they’re still hung on a fundamentally uncomfortable, slightly forced shape. For such a large car, the interior is oddly cramped, and visibility isn’t spectacular. Compared with a 650i, the M6 offers up better steering feel and chassis response and a much more involving experience-predictable changes, all-but I’d still rather have an M3 or an M5. Both offer more practicality, almost as much speed, and a much more appealing sticker price.
That said, I agree with Phil about the engine. Anything with this glorious doomsday steam train of a powerplant in it is fine by me, and ultimately, that’s what I keep coming back to. It’s revvy, it’s involving, it sounds great, it looks cool when you open the hood, and it feels like something special when you start it up. (It even wurfles and struggles a little on cold start, much like an actual race engine. Neat, even if it is ultimately a flaw.)
A few minor gripes: A carbon-fiber roof seems a little pointless on a car where a hundred hefty computers live in the cockpit and every interior surface is covered in finely stitched leather. (This thing weighs close to two tons. How much lighter could BMW‘s engineers make it if they actually put their minds to it? It’s amazingly stable on the highway at high speed, but it feels like a barge when you run it through traffic.) And the gray leather doesn’t wear well-I’ve seen more than a few high-mileage versions of these cars, and the light dye looks positively horrible (wrinkled, brown from dirt, dye worn away) after about 20,000 miles.
Sam Smith, Associate Editor
Base Price (with destination): $100,075
Price as tested: $111,320
-Silverstone II Merino Leather – $3500
-Heated Steering Wheel – $200
-Comfort Access System – $1000
-Carbon Fiber Black Trim – $300
-iPod and USB adapter – $400
-Head-up Display – $1200
-HD Radio – $350
-Satellite Radio – $595
-Enhanced Premium Sound – $700
-Gas Guzzler Tax – $3000
-11 / 17 / 13 (city/hwy/combined)
-V-10 4 Valves per cylinder
-Size: 5.0 L
-Horsepower: 500 @ 7750 rpm
-Torque: 383 lb-ft @ 6100 rpm