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