It’s pricey but mighty – we test drive the 2015 BMW M6 in our latest performance car review.
As I descend a rocky mountainside into the deep, lush green belly of one of Victoria’s Central Gippsland mining towns, I hesitate slightly on the accelerator pedal.
I know the exterior sound exclusion in this well-appointed cabin is as exceptional as the 4.4-litre twin-turbo charged V8 over the firewall, so there’s every chance I’ve been oblivious to the fact the sheer rock cliff to my left is amplifying every attempt to get this brute up towards its threshold. I’d hate for all this fun to result in a fiery glare from the tourists and shop owners waiting below, or worse.
But this is a BMW M6 Coupe, the natural attention-grabbing aesthetics of which are unabashed, and while my khaki shorts and plain tee is totally inappropriate attire for this powerful Bavarian, I’d still garner the attention, like it or not.
So on I go, feebly trying to push the M6 to accelerate harder out of each corner. Unfortunately the car’s handling feels restrained and there’s absolutely no allowance from the 1980kg rear-wheeler to incite some playful rear end wiggle, due to a traction control wound up tighter than a dad on prom night. It’s an infliction that I’ve found on a handful of more powerful Germans and I wonder what would be if traction was turned off, but this is not the time or place to drive with such brutality.
Regardless of the TRC light’s over-zealous flickering, there’s ample fun to be had behind the wheel of the Bavarian behemoth.
The star of the show is undoubtedly the 423kW (at 6000rpm) and 680Nm (at a handy 1500rpm) twin-turbo V8. The power is applied to the road via an Active M differential system and to all my prior complaints about traction control, the Active M does work efficiently given the grunt it is asked to contend with.
Power is quickly transferred between the two rear tyres, depending on their respective amount of wheel slip, and in reality the system allows the car to settle out of a corner very quickly when you’ve come in a little too hot. When the power is allowed to come back in full whack, the delivery feels pretty brutal.
Specs for acceleration close in on 1980s supercar territory with 0-100km/h in 4.2sec, almost matching that of the Ferrari F40 from yesteryear.
While the M6 is obviously a different breed to the Italian stallion, the car hides its large weight well, through good design and smart engineering, losing the sometimes-cumbersome feeling usually found in such performance behemoths.
Nipping through a quick esse I’m confronted with a long right hand turn that morphs into a left before disappearing somewhere around the mountain. It’s a good test for the Coupe, and planting my foot firmly on the brake results in a familiar amount of linear feedback that hasn’t faded since beginning this sprint a few kays back. There’s no hesitation from the six-piston calipers to bite into the 400mm front and 396mm rear discs, and the weight transfers to the front without feeling like jelly on a boat.
I must admit to entering this review with a dose of pessimism, coming off expectations crushed by the more affordably-priced but similarly-specified Lexus RC-F, however the composure of the M6 coming into the corner bodes well for a sharper turn-in. It’s not cat-like, but the car responds quickly and with balance to a sharp, short steering input.
With the right pace into the corner I need to feed the brake some more. Weight moves a little further forward and the front wheels communicate better grip through a well-weighted electronic steering mechanism. I tuck into the corner and decide it’s time to release the hounds.
There’s a heave from the M6 and an almighty burp from the rear, but the fun is reined-in while the stability control communicates to the Active M diff to ensure there’s next to no chance of slip. I don’t feel that this drama from the computer is required, and at the current pace there’s a margin of error that would allow for even more speed, but it’s impossible to tell without back-to-back testing with traction on and traction off; something that we can only do on a track.
With my foot weighed down on the accelerator and without any more hesitation the 4.4-litre V8 fires into life and the twin turbochargers hit boost. Although it doesn’t feel overly quick in this weighty application, the flickers of greenery passing the passenger-side window indicates my inklings are wrong. The sensation is short lived however, as an unknown left approaches and the brakes are relied upon once more. It’s another 10kms beyond to wash, rinse and repeat.
On such a demanding down-hill drive the M6 Coupe doesn’t flinch, and the brakes remain consistent throughout. Half way down I drop the window and listen to the sound track – between here and Walhalla the trees rustle to the vibrations exiting the exhaust. Blurps and blarps are easily manipulated and exposed through dabs of the go pedal.
The nice scenery extends from the hills to inside the cabin – the interior of this four-seater is the upper echelon of BMW refinement. Leather, carbon fibre and high quality plastics are used throughout, and the BMW infotainment system has matured well, with an intuitive interface that allows the driver to make adjustments on the fly and even connect to your iPhone to browse the web.
It’s hard to fault the whole package. It’s not perfect, but nothing is. The traction control is the most obvious annoyance, and it’s continual presence when driving harder prevents a real exploration of the performance thresholds.
Admiring the BMW M6 Coupe from across the road, it conveys a timeless posture that doesn’t need to rely being boisterous yet cuts the monotony of cars on our roads. It’s maturity and posh fun, but for the driver the M6 provides a genuine performance car with a depth of character that is unique to experience.
|Specs|| 2015 BMW M6
|Price||$292,600 (plus on-road costs)|
|Power||423kW at 7000rpm|
|Torque||680Nm at 1500-6000rpm|
|Power to weight||4.42kg/kW|
|Tyres||265/30/20 front, 265/35/19 rear|
- Cracking engine
- Most luxe M available
- Adaptive suspension works very well
- Ride can be too firm on sport settings
- Not going to keep up with its lighter siblings
- Too pricey for most