PH Blog: BMW M6 and the art of noise


It says something about the state of the world when the PistonHeads review of the latest BMW M car concludes ... you'd be better off buying the diesel version. It says even more when the majority of replies in the comments thread seem to agree too!

BMW prefers the sound to come from the speakers
BMW prefers the sound to come from the speakers
And I can't help but think one of the key contributors to this is that the M6 just doesn't sound good. Or rather, anything like you'd hope a 560hp, V8-powered mega-coupe should. I've wittered about the importance of this before and PH opinion on the fact BMW has resorted to digitally enhancing the noise on both the M5 and M6 has been pretty unequivocal. The outcry has been immense but you know the worst thing? Even with this trickery it still fails to excite.

I spent most of my time on the M6 launch in the coupe, figuring this was the more manly and PH of the two. But, diligent as ever, I did take the Convertible out too and, in fairness, it's a pretty impressive piece of kit with none of the wobble you might expect of a roofless four-seater. As you might hope, given that the reinforcement required tips it over the two-tonne barrier.

We'll talk about that another time but at least, I thought, without a roof I'll be able to get an honest impression of what that undeniably mighty M twin-turbo V8 really sounds like, rather than rely on some synthesised version playing through the speakers.

The best way to enjoy a BMW M V8? Actually no.
The best way to enjoy a BMW M V8? Actually no.
Trouble is, the answer is rubbish.

And that's a real problem. If you're paying a £30K premium over the 640d - a car that'll do 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds but also achieve 50mpg - you at least want it to sound like an M car. Instead the M6, bar the odd little upshift parp, sounds like an overboosted, downsized four-cylinder. I knew the answer but I even had to check with the engineers - was it a flat-plane crank? Nope. The guys at AMG must be feeling particularly smug too, having managed to make their equivalent 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 sound nearly as epic as the normally aspirated 6.2 it's steadily replacing.

It's an issue affecting BMWs of all shapes and sizes - the diesels sound and behave more like petrols while the petrols do the opposite. Fine, the M6 delivers its peak torque at 1,500rpm. But so does the 640d, and with 465lb ft it's only 35lb ft down and, coupe for coupe, weighs 135kg less!

Looks mean, goes like stink ... sounds dull
Looks mean, goes like stink ... sounds dull
An M engine should be all about drama and emotion, not diesel-like power delivery. But this twin-turbo V8 leaves the hairs on your neck very much unpricked. Sure, the M6's V8 can and will rev out to over 7,000rpm and the engineers are very proud of its ability to do so, referring constantly to its 'high-revving character.' But where's the incentive to do so if it's already delivered its maximum torque and doesn't even sound good with a few more revs on the dial? True, BMW is probably only responding to criticism that the old V10 was too peaky. But it's possibly gone too far the other way.

Dan

Comments (63) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Cheburator mk2 18 Aug 2012

    Putting the E39 and the E60 M5s on the same page? Mwahahah.

    One soft, rolly-polly, slow witted chasis, vs BMWs return to its roots when it comes to M5 genealogy.

    The V8 vs. the V10? Why are we even discussing it. One of them is a good boggo production V8 - the M62 - which was reworked by ///M. The other was an all out effort by the ///M guys to make the best engine from the start.

    Don't get me wrong - I like the E39 M5, but the E60 is streets ahead... The F10 is going back to the E39 and is a step in the right commercial direction, but the wrong enthusiast one.

  • abbaszb 10 Aug 2012

    Absolutely spot on. If you want a car with no drama, excitement, spine tingling music note and a naturally aspirated monster under the bonnet, all of which can also play smooth and civilised (relative to most cars on the road) very well.. then the E60 M5 is not for you. smile

    suprac19 said:
    I wouldn't that is entirely true, the V10 engine doesn't have as much low down torque as the E39 V8 granted but it does offer more torque overall which is sufficient for every day normal driving and having to rev the engine to give off its best and watching how quickly the rev counter swings effortlessly passed 8000rpm and that amazing sound, its all part of the fun of having such an engine and it's what an M engine should be like, And the gearbox in the E60 M5, feeling how brutal it is thumping through the gears on full throttle and throwing you back in your seat with every change...what can i say, Amazing, if you want the seamless auto like gearbox in the F10 M5 then fair enough but for me the gearbox in the E60 adds to the character and lets you know your in something different, something special.

  • suprac19 08 Aug 2012

    longblackcoat said:
    I must be the only one who hated the V10 M5 - the gearbox was utterly crap, and the engine, though admitedly an engineering marvel, had to be revved to within an inch of its life to deliver. Nothing wrong with revvy engines, but the E39 M5's V8 was far more to my liking, plus it had a proper, real, manual box. Less power than the E60, but way more accessible. If I compare the E60 and F10 variants of the M5, the F10 wins hands down. Just a nicer engine to use, at least from my perspective, and the gearbox actually works properly.

    In an ideal world, where we can play fantasy mix'n'match, I'd take AMG's M156, stick it in an F11 Touring shell, and put the 991's 7-speed manual in it. And, just for comedy value, some 520d badges and 17" wheels.
    I wouldn't that is entirely true, the V10 engine doesn't have as much low down torque as the E39 V8 granted but it does offer more torque overall which is sufficient for every day normal driving and having to rev the engine to give off its best and watching how quickly the rev counter swings effortlessly passed 8000rpm and that amazing sound, its all part of the fun of having such an engine and it's what an M engine should be like, And the gearbox in the E60 M5, feeling how brutal it is thumping through the gears on full throttle and throwing you back in your seat with every change...what can i say, Amazing, if you want the seamless auto like gearbox in the F10 M5 then fair enough but for me the gearbox in the E60 adds to the character and lets you know your in something different, something special.

  • ZesPak 02 Jul 2012

    MonkeyMatt said:
    ZesPak said:
    The conclusion isn't "you should buy the diesel" imho, the conclusion is "get the Maserati GranCabrio" biggrin
    Just sorted that for you!
    Oops! You're right, can't believe I misspelled Maserati that bad.

  • BeirutTaxi 01 Jul 2012

    The Don of Croy said:
    Looks worringly like the MGTF at fist glance;



    Erm wtf are you on about?! confused

View all comments in the forums Make a comment