BMW M6 Gran Coupe: review

What does M stand for these days? For those concerned about erosion of core values , this new M6 Gran Coupe is not the car to allay fears. It follows recent BMW form with a near two-tonne kerb weight, a twin-clutch transmission and a twin-turbocharged engine; those celebrated M-car traits become a distant memory as you read through the technical specification.

Let's agree on this - it's a fabulous looking car
Let's agree on this - it's a fabulous looking car
Still, it's with an open mind that I settle down for the press conference. There's a beautifully lit M6 Gran Coupe on a plinth behind me and I keep turning to look at it over my shoulder. The bodykit adds muscle without being cartoonish, the carbon fibre roof looks great and the proportions seem to work effortlessly; a four-door version of a coupe could so easily have looked awkward and ungainly. It's sleeker than an M5 and somehow cooler than a two-door M6.

So first impressions are positive, but as the press conference begins my enthusiasm takes a knock. M division boss Friedrich Nitschke has just explained that the new car "stands for luxury like no other M-car" before even mentioning its sporting credentials.

Kein sportlich?
Perhaps it doesn't have any. Given that Herr Nitschke has just described it as the new flagship M-car, that would be a pity. The proof will be in the driving, though, and as I approach the Frozen Grey M6 I have two questions in mind; what does this car do that the £25,000 less expensive M5 doesn't and which traditional M-car values remain?

Pumped up looks are perfectly judged
Pumped up looks are perfectly judged
The quality of the materials and build within the cabin is superb and some of the detailing is beautiful. There's space aplenty and good legroom even behind a tall driver. In automatic mode, with the shift speeds dialled right back, the car slips away from standstill without fuss. In Comfort mode the M6 Gran Coupe rides very well indeed, smoothing off lumps and bumps despite the 20-inch wheels. It's all very cosseting, but not very M.

A burst of Autobahn allows us to breach 165mph with absolute ease, for the 560hp motor pulls unabated from tick-over to the redline. The Gran Coupe feels good for 190mph and so composed at speed. UK cars will be limited to 155mph, though, with no option to have that lifted.

Much like an M5 but lower ... and £25K dearer
Much like an M5 but lower ... and £25K dearer
'bahn? Stormed
We pull off onto single-carriageway roads that roll across the countryside around Munich. It's here that the Gran Coupe shows its true pace; in a straight line it pulls with real urgency in the manner of a true M-car.

But that's about it. I try the Sport and Sport Plus settings for the steering for half a mile each. Rather than delivering a greater sense of connection with the front wheels, each setting simply throws a springy layer of disconnect between your palms and the contact patch. Comfort it is, then, in which mode the steering is pleasingly weighted and direct, although lacking in any real connectivity.

Similarly, the Sport Plus mode for the dampers is too firm and unforgiving to be of any use, although the Sport mode is worthwhile when pressing along on smoother roads. Again, however, Comfort is the preference because it delivers a pleasing degree of compliance while keeping the two-tonne body in check. The quality of damping over sudden compressions and bumps is very good indeed.

That much is made of 'luxury' tells you a lot
That much is made of 'luxury' tells you a lot
Flatters to deceive
The M6 pours from one sweeping corner to another with fluidity and composure while carrying an awful lot of speed. It hides its weight commendably well, at least until the roads tighten and narrow, at which point it feels large and unwilling to change direction. The gearbox works very well across a broad spectrum of driving conditions, with a pleasing thump in the back in manual mode in a nod to the divisive SMG 'box. The M6 Gran Coupe is not a car that you grab by the scruff of its neck, however. It's one that you enjoy for its effortless power and cosseting ride, for that's what it does best.

What of my original questions? I can only think that it looks a little sexier than an M5 and is marginally more luxurious inside - it's not for me to decide if that justifies £25,000 - but as far as traditional M values go I draw a blank.

Exit stage left: the traditional M car
Exit stage left: the traditional M car
If divorced from 40 years of M heritage the Gran Coupe is a very pleasant car and a thoroughly effective long-distance device, but it isn't a good M-car. It barely qualifies to be an M-car, actually, save for the frustrating reality that BMW alone has the right to judge that point.

Such as the carbon-fibre roof and redundant suspension and steering modes, much about the M6 Gran Coupe is folly masquerading as attention to detail and motorsport breeding, the kind that once made M-badged cars so brilliant. BMW M has just been dragged even further away from where enthusiasts like us want it to be.

4,395cc, V8, twin-turbocharged
Transmission: 7-speed double-clutch automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 560hp@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 502lb ft@1,500rpm
0-62mph: 4.2sec
Top speed: 155mph (electronically limited)
Weight: 1,950kg
MPG: 28.5mpg (claimed)
CO2: 232g/km
Price: £97,490



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Comments (190) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Schnellmann 22 Apr 2013

    Not sure what, if anything, this has in common with an E30 M3 or other, early M cars. Perhaps it is time for BMW to come up with a new name.

    Also: fairly pointless car, except for willy waving purposes (that you can afford the most expensive in the range) as in the real world you would get the same level or luxury and almost same level of real world performance from a 635D or 650i (if you want to avoid diesel).

  • Roma101 22 Apr 2013

    I wasn't expecting this to be a true M car. And I don't think BMW had any intention for it to be. Nor should it have been. IMO the 6 series is not aimed at die hard PH'ers looking for track day thrills and BMW knows this. The lower end of the M range seems to be where that is - 1M, M135i, forthcoming M235i, 2M/M2?, new M3 and M4 etc.

  • Amirhussain 22 Apr 2013

    Of course its an M car, if BMW say it is, then it is! Looks miles better than the CLS Mercedes.

  • hussein 22 Apr 2013

    That interior is pretty lush!

    But yes, not exactly motorsport is it? Exactly as Schnellmann says, what exactly does this have to offer over a diesel one? The price though, £25k more than an M5... crikey. I guess the reality is this car is for people where the price is mostly irrelevant.

    Edited by hussein on Monday 22 April 11:00

  • loveice 22 Apr 2013

    Nice car, much more refined than my old E60 M5.

    But, sometimes to me all these morden super refined hi end cars are just like a sweet and sour dish. They are just using one latest and more 'advanced' tech to cover the other overly engineered or designed feature. Instead of just using 'one spoon of sugar with one spoon of vinegar' to keep the balance right, car manufactures insist to use 'full bag of sugar and whole bottle of vinegar'... Where does it end?

    We do still have very few 'simple' hatchbacks, 4X4s and track day cars, nowadays. But, why can't we also have 'simple' (in both design and engineering) saloons and GTs? Surely, there's still a market for that.

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