The M6 convertible we drove five months ago in our September 2012 issue performs like a ballistic missile. But despite its powerful 560bhp “warhead”, the Munich missile’s sizeable body and hefty mass mean that it’s nowhere as agile as one would expect an M car to be.
In military terms, the M6 convertible is like a platoon’s Javelin anti-tank weapon system – heavier and more unwieldy than any assault rifle, you would never bring one to a close-quarters engagement. But when utilised out in the open, as it should be, the Javelin has the potential to turn the tide of any battle.
Like its soft-top sibling, the fixed-roof M6 is also a bulky, long-range weapon that cannot be used in confined spaces, and has the ability to even the odds in any encounter. But instead of performing like a Javelin, the M6 coupe is more like a Heckler & Koch PSG1 sniper rifle – lighter in weight, easier to handle and far more accurate.
Key to the M6 coupe’s better dynamics is the fact that it weighs 130kg less than the 2055kg convertible variant. And because the M6 coupe has a proper roof, it doesn’t have to be burdened by extra chassis reinforcements, which affect handling. With no canopy to stow in the boot area, there’s also significantly more boot space – 450 litres versus the convertible’s 340 litres.
The roof of the coupe obviously isn’t made of canvas, but BMW didn’t just use steel or even aluminium – it opted for carbon fibre, an advanced material that weighs only half as much as steel. And since the roof section is the highest point of any vehicle, lightening it lowers the centre of gravity and improves overall handling.
Show the M6 coupe a series of corners, and its improved handling is immediately palpable. The car feels more agile than the convertible and demonstrates neater follow-through, too. Compared to the M6 convertible, the M6 coupe needs less “persuasion” to change direction, even in the middle of a sweeping bend.
This increased athleticism also means the driver can place the car more accurately, giving him a better sense of control. This trait becomes even more important considering the 560bhp V8 “armament” that equips the twin-turbo, 4.4-litre M6.
However, unlike in the M6 convertible, the “weapon operator” enclosed in the M6 coupe cannot revel fully in the V8’s wonderful symphony, with the burble of the exhaust and the accompanying roar as the revs climb sounding more “sanitised” than sonorous.
The soundtrack is less exciting, but the drive is just as intense. The M6 coupe piles on the speed with such ease that only a supercar or superbike could eclipse its explosive acceleration. Helping the powerplant in this endeavour is the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, which performs its gearchanges faultlessly.
It still remains difficult to modulate at low speeds, however. Getting the machine to “creep” forwards or backwards in a smooth fashion is tricky, since a stab of the accelerator pedal could send the car surging ahead in a split-second.
Even scarier is the fact that one can easily delay the intervention of DSC (stability control) with just a few button-presses. There’s plenty of grip from those 295/30 R20 rear tyres, but all it takes is an extra prod of the throttle midway through a turn to get the traction control warning light blinking with Gatling-gun rapidity. Without the electronic nannies, an ordinary driver would be at the mercy of this car’s capabilities.
So, the M6 coupe drives better than the M6 convertible, and is also $40k less expensive. It’s our preferred Munich missile for the motoring battlefield.
This story was first published in the February 2013 issue of Torque.
2013 BMW M6 4.4 (A)
ENGINE 4395cc, 32-valves, V8, turbocharged
MAX POWER 560bhp at 6000-7000rpm
MAX TORQUE 680Nm at 1500-5750rpm
GEARBOX 7-speed dual-clutch with manual select
0-100KM/H 4.2 seconds
TOP SPEED 250km/h (governed)
CONSUMPTION 10.1km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSIONS 232g/km