GINETTA

Wednesday 20th October 2010


PH Comparo: BMW M6 vs Nissan GT-R

A classic head-to-head as Godzilla battles (tah-da-dah...) Kapitan Bavaria!

New GT-R or used M6? Not all decisions are black and white...
New GT-R or used M6? Not all decisions are black and white...
It's pretty much received wisdom that Nissan's GT-R is one of the performance bargains of the century and, until we popped the details of our long-term loan BMW M6 into What Car?'s online valuation device the other day, we pretty much concurred.

Apparently, just 12,000 miles into what will (hopefully!) be a long and fruitful career, our charismatic V10-powered editorial chariot has dropped firmly into the realms of the 'affordable'. At least for those who think the GT-R's current 60k-ish list price is affordable, because What Car? reckons you can pick up a barely used M6 like ours for similar money. Which is good news, if for no other reason than BMW has just stopped making new ones.

By happy coincidence, until this morning PHer RacingPete was looking after a shiny new GT-R as part of a complicated quid pro quo negotiated by his agent in exchange for giving up the PH long-term 370Z to a lucky PH prize winner for a week.

The M6 behind the GT-R...
The M6 behind the GT-R...
...and vice versa
...and vice versa

With a pair of big, bruising coupes lined up in the office car park, there was only one possible outcome. We hot-footed it over to Chobham test track for some doughnuts... ahem, in order to bring you our exclusive PH coupe comparison twin-test. So with 60k to spend on either one of these beasties - where would your money go?

RacingPete - track-obsessed thrill-seeker and technology addict:
"The GT-R is like driving an industrial mixer. It's raw, clunky and then goes really, really fast, eating up the road. (Ah, one of those industrial mixers. Ed.) The driving position is good, low and the steering wheel rake means you can get set for all-out attack. There's loads and loads of grip from all four wheels, so it feels totally predictable and never seems likely to throw you off the road. The engine has a P51-D Mustang whine at high revs, which is awesome, and so unlike most other super cars.

Nissan plugs GT-R as 911 rival...
Nissan plugs GT-R as 911 rival...
...but these two could be twins! (Almost.)
...but these two could be twins! (Almost.)

"The M6 is more refined, as opposed to brutish, and has a grown-up feel although the V10 soundtrack is addictive, making you want to be stuck in an ever-accelerating movie chase sequence.

"With traction control off, the GT-R will deliver some rear-wheel-drive feel if you seriously manhandle it, but drive it smoothly and it's so sure-footed you can position it perfectly. The M6 has enough power to counteract any understeer in a nice four-wheel drift, although this does mean it doesn't corner as quickly as the GT-R. But it can convert corners into an outrageous mix of noise and tyre-smoke if required...

Expensive Dunlops...
Expensive Dunlops...
...meet expensive Pirellis!
...meet expensive Pirellis!

"The GT-R gearbox suffers from some delays that I wouldn't expect from a dual-clutch system, and shifts are often clunky without the smoothness you might expect. The M6's single-clutch gearbox is atrocious. At speed it is something you can live with it as it's not much different to a manual gearchange, but if you are on 50 per cent throttle in auto mode it can seem like it is manufacturing the next gear instead of selecting it!

"With everything turned on the GT-R is like a computer game, and I hate it. With everything off, although the performance has an industrial feel, I just love it. It's easy to forget how good the M6 is, and on track it runs the GT-R close. But not close enough for my money."

Not 'pretty', perhaps..
Not 'pretty', perhaps..
...but both look pretty hardcore
...but both look pretty hardcore

Garlick - unapologetic apologist for all forms of Teutonic motoring:
"The GT-R is purposeful, but the bulky proportions don't look right. Chaps on building sites like them, as do spotty youths, and there's an 'I want to drive it because of what it is' image that's hard to ignore.

"It's very easy to drive, and instantly feels 'right' when you're sitting inside it. Lightning-fast gearchanges add a motorbike feel to the acceleration, but the car really only comes alive at speeds you would be banged-up for.

Package similarities continue inside...
Package similarities continue inside...
...albeit M6 is more leathery
...albeit M6 is more leathery

"The chassis gives unbelievable levels of grip, even under numpty-braking too late into a bend, but I found the M6 more exciting. You know the car doesn't have the gadgetry of the GT-R and therefore you respect it. It hangs on well, but likes a twitch here and there to remind you to be careful. The gearchange lets the M6 down though, to the extent it spoils the car.

"I admit I wanted the M6 to beat the GT-R, even though on paper the Nissan wins hands down, and after an afternoon playing with both I would still choose the used M6 over the new Nissan. The V10 is epic, and the feeling on track is typical BMW - tight and precise but with a constant reminder it's the rear wheels pushing you along. It's also got a less brash image, and much more refinement on the road.

GT-R back seat is squashed...
GT-R back seat is squashed...
...BMW's is almost practical
...BMW's is almost practical

"In the real world though, my 50-60k would go on an entirely different German, and one with the engine in the boot."

Chris-R - self-aggrandised adjudicator/chairman/casting vote-holder:
"I love the Nissan GT-R, and if you'd asked me to choose from this pair before we'd covered the thick end of 12,000 miles in the BMW M6, the Nissan would have got my money without a second thought. But then I didn't really know what the M6 was all about - I'd never driven one.

"When our own M6 with Competition Pack arrived, it took just one lap of my favourite tightening (tarmac and sphincter...) dual-carriageway exit slip, roundabout and emergency acceleration re-entry zone 'combo' to twig that I'd casually underestimated this car's massive capability. More to the point, I immediately began to understand why it cost 90-odd grand in the showroom. When you could still buy it new, that is.

Both coupes come with a boot...
Both coupes come with a boot...
...but again the BMW is more useful
...but again the BMW is more useful

"The engine is one of its more obvious highlights, and even PHers with a fetish for monster low-end torque would have to admit there's something glorious about a V10 singing round the rev-counter to 8,250rpm. In the M6, it's the sort of vocal performance that demands an encore every time.

"The SMG gearbox? Well, it's easy to take pot-shots, but I've lived with it for thousands of miles more than any of my colleagues and I reckon it's not 'bad' it's just misunderstood.

"The misapprehension stems from the SMG's variable (1 to 5) 'dynamic' auto settings, because default setting number 1 is clearly optimised for EC fuel consumption and/or emission numbers, and not for driver appeal.

Dimensions are remarkably similar...
Dimensions are remarkably similar...
...although the styles are far apart
...although the styles are far apart

"In this default setting I'll admit it the M6 changes gear with such ennui that sometimes it appears to have fallen asleep between cogs. It also rarely troubles itself with first gear even when stationary, leaving you struggling to get out of your own way in second gear when lunging for those tight gaps in the traffic.

Chris-R: "No Pete, that's just utter ***"
Chris-R: "No Pete, that's just utter ***"
"Which, at the risk of pointing out the bleedin' obvious, is exactly why the SMG 'box comes equipped with four additional auto mode settings, from number 2 (a.k.a. 'actually quite driveable') to number 5 (a.k.a. 'attack mode').

"Alternatively, you can just shift in manually with the paddles, in which mode most would agree it's pretty hard to criticise, even if the 'box does lack the electric smoothness of more advanced devices. So come on guys, get over it... (Sniff!)

"Once you have, you can start to appreciate the M6 as a genuine meisterwerk.

V10 plays V6... but that's half the story
V10 plays V6... but that's half the story
"Rear-wheel drive and a high-tech, lightweight (240kgs) 500+hp V10 should be enough to ensure it's a genuine driver's car, but lob in technology like a carbonfibre roof and thermoplastic and aluminium body panels cunningly combined with aluminium chassis components to optimise both weight distribution and inertia, then add a suspension/tyre set-up that manages to combine leech-like grip, rock-like high-speed stability and significant ride refinement... Oh, and then remember it's got four usable seats, a decent-sized boot, and you can speak to fellow passengers at speed without shouting.

"The GT-R is unquestionably a wonderful thing, but it goes about its business in a manner that's a little too single-minded. It's also noisy, relatively unrefined, and - perish the thought - I could see living with it becoming occasionally, just a teensy bit, tiresome.

"I can't imagine ever thinking that about the M6. It's a true sporting all-rounder and therefore the winner!"

(Who shouted 'fix'..?)

BMW M6 Nissan GT-R
Body style Coupe Coupe
Doors 2 2
Seats 4 4
Price (New, in s) 87335 59945
Engine Size cc 4999 3799
Cylinders V10 V6
Valves 40v 24v
Power bhp 507@7750 478@6400
Torque lb ft 384@6100 433@3200-5200
Fuel type SU U
Emission class EU4 EU5
Transmission Type (MT/AT) 7-spd SMG 6-spd
Driven Wheels R 4
Urban mpg (Man) 13.2 15.4
Extra urban mpg (Man) 27.7 31
Comb mpg (Man) 19.8 22.8
C02 (g/km) (Man) 342 295
VED band (Man) M M
Max. speed (Man) 155 193
0-62 mph (Man) 4.6 3.5
Boot capacity min (litres) 450 315
Fuel tank (litres) 70 73
Length (mm) 4871 4650
Width (mm) 1855 1895
Height (mm) 1372 1370
Wheelbase (mm) 2781 2780
Kerb Weight (kg) 1785 1740
Gross Weight (kg) 2200 1960
Service interval (miles) Variable 6000
Warranty (years) 3 3
Warranty (miles) Unlimited 60000
Author: Chris-R

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193 comments on this story

Last comment was by Olf
on 25th October 2010