Car: BMW M6 (E63)
Owned since: May 2016
Previously owned: Lotus Elise 111S, VW Golf GTI Mk2(s), various family cars
Why I bought it:
"I previously owned an Elise which I frustratingly wrote off after only about 10 months of ownership (see previous PH posts on the Elise forum). Whilst I loved its pared-to-the-bone appeal, I also hankered after a big GT car. I love quality engineering and after reading a YKYWT on the M6, I started to research them. The more I read, the more they appealed to me - it is way more than just a two-door 5 Series with a big engine. An early easy decision was not to buy a convertible version - they are a whopping 200kg heavier than the standard coupe."
"Not a lot really. You've got to do your research thoroughly and know what you are letting yourself in for. The advice that kept on coming through was to buy on mechanical condition rather than mileage or colour. Ironically, these M engines don't like lack of use so you don't' really want too low a mileage car. Luckily I found one with a fastidious owner - the engine bay looked almost brand new and there was a detailed service history with receipts."
Things I love:
"Driving this car is a bit of an event. To be honest the SMG gearbox takes some getting used to, but being an F1 fan I do get childish (my wife uses more cutting words) pleasure from being able to make all the adjustments. The gearbox does make the odd slightly worrying clonk every now and again but perversely I find it gives the car personality - you have to learn how to drive it well. I love the fact the car has two characters - drive it normally and it is a very comfy and stylish big limo but push it and it becomes a bit of a beast, with an engine that sounds like a turbine. Quite frankly, even though it is a decade old, there is very little on UK roads that will outpace it even now - from third gear and mid-range revs onwards, it absolutely flies. I like the fact that BMW did a lot of quite serious re-engineering to keep the weight down, using a lot of composites in key areas. Two more things - the head-up display is excellent, a genuine performance driving and safety bonus; the carbon roof is a real work of art, too. Finally, despite its performance and engineering I like the fact that it is a surprisingly subtle and understated car - it isn't in your face like a 911 or some of the hot AMG Mercs, but those who know their cars clock it (including traffic police!).
"Genuinely, not a lot. I don't have much of a problem with any of the alleged shortcomings of the car - iDrive is slow but perfectly functional and for SMG it is a question of learning its quirks. I now drive in semi-automatic all the time which is much better and no real hardship. For a big car (the same length as my XC90) there is not much room in the rear seats, though it does have a big boot, but I didn't buy it for rear seat space. Even the handling which got some average comments when reviewed I actually find perfectly acceptable - there is masses of grip, a good traction control system and in reality I reckon very few drivers would have much of an issue with the finer handling gripes journalists noted anyway. I guess it has a touch more understeer than I would prefer, but that could be down to tyre choice as much as anything else."
"I know these cars aren't cheap to run but, for what you get for your money, these cars are supercar bargains quite frankly. That said, when I bought it mine had pretty new tyres all round, relatively recent front discs and recently refurbished alloys. A recent MOT and standard service cost me £400 from a reputable local specialist. I know at some stage it will need a new clutch like all SMG cars but you have to go into ownership of a car like this expecting that, and research can mitigate your concerns. Fuel consumption is a bit frightening (not much more than 20mpg at best) but I don't do many miles in it so fortunately I can live with that problem."
"We've recently moved up north and the big open A-roads of North Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland are ideal for an M6. It is not an easy car to hustle along B-roads so I don't bother and just use the massive acceleration and huge braking selectively. There is a pertinent American aviation phrase which is "keeping ahead of the aircraft" and that is very much the case with this car - very quickly you can be doing serious speed and the top end performance envelope is pretty marginal for most UK roads. We do plan to take it to the Continent at some stage as the car's ability to maintain a very comfortable high speed cruise - with a lot of overtaking reserve - is one of its best features, and that turbine howl when surging past traffic is very addictive."
"I know these cars are a bit Marmite but I reckon they will appreciate - look at 8 Series coupes now. I don't plan any major upgrades beyond a regular software update, and it doesn't really need anything in my view. I've thought about a specialist exhaust when the time comes but it doesn't really need it. There are very few E63 M6s in the UK (c. 350, only a tenth of E60 M5s) and I am convinced their serious engineering quality, rarity and all-round strengths will mean their appeal will grow over time - I struggle to think of an M car that hasn't become sought after eventually. What I have is effectively a German Aston Martin that is classy, comfortable, supremely quick and with serious road presence - and a supercar bargain to boot."
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