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2015 BMW M6 Competition – Car Review – A Super Car Lurks Beneath

2015 BMW M6 Competition – Car Review – A Super Car Lurks Beneath

Here’s a bit of irony for you – even though this is the ‘M6 Competition Package’ I couldn’t immediately think of any competitors for the M6. There aren’t any obvious direct rivals for the M6 as Mercedes or Audi don’t offer an equivalent car. The E-Class Coupe doesn’t have a top-of-the-line AMG variant and Audi haven’t even bothered to make a large four-seat coupe. The Jaguar XKR would’ve been a good comparison but that’s not in production anymore.

In terms of pricing and performance it’s roughly in the same ballpark as something like a Maserati Granturismo or Nissan GT-R but the M6 has around 74kW/100bhp more than the Maserati and a ‘BMW’ badge has is held in higher regard than a ‘Nissan’ badge.

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After literally several minutes, the closest car that came to mind which offers the same sort of package as the M6 is the Bentley Continental GT V8. But that’s priced much higher than the M6. So when I got the keys to the M6 I was at a loss. What in the world would I compare it to?

Then it hit me. The BMW M5 is pretty much the same car with the same engine but it has two more doors and an extra seat. Would the M6’s prettier design, exclusivity, and less weight make me want to have it over the M5? At the same time would it be enough to tempt people out of their GT-Rs, Maseratis, and Bentleys?

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How is it different to the M5?
The most obvious difference is the design. Whereas the M5 is based on a discreet executive sedan, the M6 has a more exotic, sportier, and to my eyes, prettier donor car – the 6-Series. The 6 comes in more body styles than the M5 which is available as a sedan only. The M6 family is made up of a Coupe (as tested), a Cabriolet, and a four-door Gran Coupe.

Where the M5 was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, which masked its 412kW/560bhp somewhat discreetly, the M6 was proud to show off its capabilities. There’s a strong purposeful athletic look to it and enough sporty touches to hint at what lurks beneath. The carbon-fibre roof, the quad-exhausts, the more aggressive front bumper, and the subtle bootlid spoiler (which to my eyes looked like an afterthought) sets it apart from the regular BMW 6-Series.

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I think it’s a rather handsome looking car and would look even better in a less orange colour, blue or silver perhaps. It’s the sort of car only people who know about cars will appreciate and give a second look. I was never won over by the previous M6’s weird rear, but this one ticks all the right boxes.

Speaking of ticking the right boxes, those optional 20-inch wheels are a must. It’s part of the Competition Pack and they complete the look of the car and really fill in those large arches. They also bring bigger rubber (265/35 up front and 295/30 at the rear) with them which does wonders for the car’s handling.

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The M6 reminded me a bit of a comic book superhero, more specifically Clark Kent/Superman. It’s a car of two halves; a supercar disguised as a normal car. But there’s more to it than meets the eye.

What about performance?
First off, for some reason the M6’s launch control system wouldn’t engage. It’s the same system as the M5’s which worked perfectly at Fuji Speedway. However, after several attempts I gave up and tried to launch manually.

Oh boy does this thing rocket off. No, rocket isn’t the right word. It’s more like an explosion and you’re holding on for dear life. It struggles to find grip at first, sending 422kW/575bhp to the rear wheels will do that, but once you’ve got in control you’ll quickly see triple digits on the fantastic Heads Up Display.

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Previously the M5 was the most powerful I had the pleasure of driving. 412kW/560bhp is no small feat and for most, it’s more than enough. A standard M6 comes with the same power output but those wanting a little bit of extra oomph will want to go for the Competition Package, as I tested. That brings the power up to 422kW/575bhp (442kW600bhp for cars after September 2015). It might not seem like much but those extra 10kW/15bhp and a lighter body do make a difference.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, these BMW M V8s are a masterpiece. The power they develop and the delivery is nothing short of breathtaking. You’d never find yourself lacking in grunt; effortless would be the best word to describe this engine. The low-end torque from around 1500rpm pulls you all the way up the rev range where at around 6000rpm the engine really comes to life.

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There’s no escaping all the power available to you under your right foot. It becomes even more obvious on slippery surfaces or the slightest twitch of your big toe. You really have to think how much power to apply because the back wheels are very enthusiastic.

Apart from the C63 AMG, the M6 was the most tail happy car I’ve ever driven. If you’re not careful you will end up oversteering and doing burnouts in places you don’t want to be oversteering and doing burnouts.

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Unlike the C63 however, the M6 isn’t a shouty car. It’s not a bad sounding car but the volume just isn’t up there. It has quad-exhausts, blacked out on the Competition Pack, and it does have valves in the exhaust but they didn’t seem to open up until around 4000rpm. By then you’re doing illegal speeds. What’s the point in that?! But even when the valves did open up it still no louder than a church choir.

Luckily the power and the handling made up for the lack of volume. For a big car the M6 handled like a competent sports car. The Competition Package does add revised suspension and steering settings, which were noticeable. I felt that it was more taut and aggressive than the M5 but not any scarier. It was just that bit more refined and precise.

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I took the car out to a damp and snowy Hakone Turnpike and even when pushed hard the M6’s grip never let go. And when it did reach its limits the car was predictable enough to be corrected with ease. The steering felt natural and direct despite being electrically-assisted. I was surprised by how easy it was to place on the road considering its size.

As with most performance cars these days there’s a plethora of driver settings to adjust. I found the Sport steering to be the ideal setting outside the city as it wasn’t overly weighted like it was in Sport Plus. Put the dampers in Sport or Sport Plus mode and you won’t be able to feel any body roll whatsoever. It’s hugely impressive.

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The gearbox, a 7-speed dual clutch affair, also comes with three different settings altering the ferocity of the shifts. In auto it lurches a bit at low speeds but that’s typical of DCTs. In Sport and Manual modes the changes were telepathic. The only let down were the plasticky paddles. In a car like this I expected something more, aluminiumy.

The optional carbon-ceramics had tremendous stopping power, like the ones on the M5, but I couldn’t help but feel they weren’t all that necessary in everyday situations. Sure the gold calipers look nice and it’s reassuring to know the brakes won’t fade after hard use, especially with this much mass to stop, but they’re a $15,000 (Japan pricing) option. That’s an awful lot of money for brakes that squeak when they’re cold.

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BMW claims the average fuel consumption for the M6 Competition is 8.8km/L (11L/100km). I was averaging around 6.6km/L (15L/100km), which wasn’t too bad for a car like this. Still, it was never going to be a cheap car to run.

What about the comfort?
Here’s where the M6 impresses even more. Yes it can go silly miles an hour, yes it’ll push you back into those plush seats until they’ve moulded around you, and yes it’ll go around corners like thirsty mosquitos but it’s also one of the most comfortable ways of covering distances.

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I’m not exaggerating. I’ve rode on a number of forms of transportation but the M6 was easily right up there as one of the most comfortable. It isolates you from the outside world. Put everything into comfort and you’d be hard pressed to sense any supercar capabilities. There’s all the soundproofing and insulation you could ask for in a car like this. The seats were some of the most supportive these buttocks have ever rested upon.

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When you’re pushing it hard around corners the seats keep you in place. There’s adjustment for literally every single nook and cranny imaginable so finding the right fit for each body shape won’t be too difficult.

I don’t know how BMW does it. Whereas something like say a Mercedes-AMG is always on edge and is a thrill-a-minute ride 100% of the time, the M6 manages to be as exciting but with a bit the composure of a hero of a Jane Austen novel. Yes it can do the crazy hooligan stuff but at the press of a button it settles down into a nice comfortable GT.

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Just like the M5, this is one part performance car one part luxury cruiser. It is a large car though, make no doubt about that. It’s not a small, nimble sports car from BMW’s M Division. Instead this a powerful waft machine whose sole purpose is to crush those cross-continental miles.

In town the M6 dealt with road imperfections nicely. Despite the sporting intentions, big tyres, and huge power reserves, the M6 was useable in town. It was only when roads got tighter and traffic got heavier did the M6’s sheer bulk become noticeable.

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What’s the inside like?
There are four seats that can actually fit four adults. It’s not going to be a family car, that’s what the M5 is for, but if you’re after a high performance coupe that can take three of your friends on a long distance in comfort and on time then the M6 is your best bet.

Access in and out of the back seats was surprisingly easy. The large doors open wide, and this became a problem in tight parking spaces, but the front seats move electrically and there’s enough room for most to get in and out without too much of a struggle.

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Space in the back was about as good as it gets for a two-door four-seater coupe. Headroom was a bit tight but legroom was acceptable. It’s no M5 but for a coupe it was surprisingly spacious. Those wanting more room but still want the M6’s style, the Gran Coupe might be the ideal solution. Or get the M6 Cabriolet with infinite headroom.

As this a $200k+ BMW, the build quality was top quality. Nearly every surface inside was trimmed in leather. This car came with carbon-fibre trim, not really my taste, but I admit it did add a sporty feel to an otherwise luxurious (grown up) interior.

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I liked how the centre console and the iDrive screen were angled towards the driver, emphasising that this was very much a driver’s car. The way the dashboard was angled almost felt like it was cutting off the passenger.

Being a product of Germany all the controls were ergonomically placed, the dials and screens were easy to read, and there was a general solid feel. I would’ve preferred aluminium pedals over the rather cheap looking plastic ones..

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Unusually for a German car, the M6 was well equipped. The options list on my car included carbon-ceramic brakes (which you don’t really need in real life), Bang & Olufsen sound system (This is a must. It’s unbelievably good), a ‘Night Vision’ infra-red camera, the Competition Pack, and the larger wheels.

Apart from that pretty much every conceivable piece of equipment is fitted as standard. Adaptive LED headlights, the driver settings, the carbon roof, blind spot assist, front and rear parking sensors, parking cameras, a proper full leather interior, heads up display, and the iDrive system which comes with every sort of connectivity and the best sat nav system on the market. Honestly, the iDrive system makes other manufacturer’s infotainment systems look and feel two generations older.

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It can’t be all perfect
My biggest criticism of the M6 is the noise. To me a performance car should sound special, regardless of price or power. The M6 does make a nice enough sound but the volume just isn’t loud enough, even with some of the engine noise being pumped through the speakers. When you’ve got a twin-turbo V8 up front, it should be audible. But the smaller engined M4 is significantly louder.

The valves do open up but by the time you’ve got them open you’re already doing illegal speeds. What’s the point in that? Most of the time you’re not going to be doing 120+ km/h, well outside of Germany anyway. A quick fix for this would be an aftermarket exhaust and there are a number available. Not everyone might want a loud shouty car but it’d be nice to hear that V8 every now and then.

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Other flaws aren’t as significant. It’s only minor things such as the restricted visibility from the thick pillars, the aforementioned plastic pedals and paddles, and it did have a bit of a thirst. But the latter was to be expected.

Strangely, while I was blown away and properly impressed by the M6’s capabilities it was a car I didn’t really fall in love with, whereas with the M5 I didn’t want to give the car back. Maybe it’s because the M6 is a two-door that my expectations were a bit different. Maybe I had hyped the idea of a high performance coupe so much in my mind the the M6 with its silent-but-deadly V8 just couldn’t live up to.

The Competition

Brand/ModelEnginePowerFuel L/100kmCO2 g/km0-100 km/hPrice – High to Low
Bentley Continental GT V8 S4.0-litre, V8 twin-turbo petrol530bhp/389kW10.6L/100km246g/km4.5 secNZ$365,000
Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe5.5-litre, V8 twin-turbo petrol585bhp/430kW10.2L/100km239g/km4.0 secNZ$350,000
BMW M6 Competition Pack4.4-litre, V8 twin-turbo petrol575bhp/422kW11/100km231g/km4.1 secNZ$279,000
Maserati Granturismo4.7-litre, V8 petrol460bhp/338kW15.5L/100km360g/km4.7 secNZ$249,900
Porsche 911 Carrera S3.8-litre, flat-six petrol400bhp/294kW8.7L/100km202g/km4.3 secNZ$234,500
Aston Martin V8 Vantage4.7-litre V8 petrol440bhp/321kW12.9L/100km296g/km4.8 secNZ$215,000
Nissan GT-R3.8-litre, V6 twin-turbo petrol550bhp/404kW11.7/100km278g/km2.7 secNZ$191,000

 

The Good and The Bad

ProsCons
  • That twin-turbo V8 is diabolically powerful
  • I wished it sounded louder
  • Drive modes allow it to be an aggressive sports car and a soft cruiser
  • On the heavy side
  • The balance of ride and handling is spot on
  • Felt big in town
  • iDrive system is the best on the market
  • Thick pillars hinder visibility
  • More practical than you’d expect
  • Launch control didn’t work on my test car
  • Handsome design
  • Top class fit and finish

 

What Do We Think
The term “in a class on its own” has literally never been more apt than with the M6. It’s a car with no direct rivals and as a result I can say it’s second to none. The M6 manages to replicate the M5’s party trick of feeling like two cars in one; a crushingly capable sporty coupe and a comfortable long distance cruiser.

For me, what holds the car back from getting a perfect rating like the M5 was I just didn’t connect or fall in love with it as much as I did with the M5. The M5 is the M6’s kryptonite. At the end of the day the M5 is the same car costing significantly less and can also be had with a Competition Pack.

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The M6 is not quite as complete as an M5 but then again not everyone needs four doors and five seats. The M6’s lack of aural drama and the fact that it’s edging on two-tonnes let it down. An aftermarket exhaust would be an easy fix for the volume issue. But why should buyers have to spend more on an already expensive car to make it more enjoyable?

That said there’s no escaping that amazing V8 engine. It has all the power and torque in the world and can effortlessly get up to highly illegal speeds. What amazed me the most was how comfortable and refined it could be at autobahn speeds but at the touch of a button becomes a maniacal supercar.

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The similar GT cars may have caught up to the M6 but BMW can still teach them a thing or two about the balance of power, agility, refinement, and comfort. The M6 is a true testament to Bavaria’s claim of the ultimate driving machine. I just wished it shouted about it more.

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Vehicle TypeSports GT
Starting Price¥17,660,000 (approx. $233,700)
Tested Price¥21,095,000 (approx. $279,000)
Engine4394cc V8 DOHC twin-turbo petrol
Transmission7-speed dual-clutch transmission
0-100 kph4.1 seconds
Kerb Weight1910kg
Length x Width x Height4905mm x 1900mm x 1375mm
Cargo Capacity460L
Fuel Tank80L
ANCAP Safety Ratings5 Star

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