What is it?
BMW M5 not stylish enough? Try the BMW M6 Gran Coupé. That’s the message BMW’s M division is sending out with its latest model – the third in what is now an extended range of M6 models, following on from the second-generation coupé and first-generation convertible launched last year.
The recipe is familiar: the M6 Gran Coupé receives the same twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine and seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox first unveiled in the fifth-generation M5.
Power is up by 108bhp and torque extends by 22lb ft over the less heavily tuned twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 used by the fastest of the standard 6-series Gran Coupé models already on sale in the UK, the 650i.
In terms of conception, there’s little separating the M6 Gran Coupé and the latest M5, which will shortly receive a mild facelift as part of changes to the 5-series line-up. Both boast a four-door, saloon-style body, although the former is considerably lower and, arguably, better looking.
BMW says the wheelbase measurements are different, but at 2970mm versus 2965mm it’s a close run thing. And while the former boasts just four seats, the latter gets a more practical five seat layout as standard.
What is it like?
Despite weighing 5kg more at 1875kg and running the same 3.15:1 final drive, BMW claims the M6 Gran Coupé is actually faster to 62mph than the M5, but only by 0.1sec at 4.2sec. Top speed is nominally limited to 155mph. However, buyers can have it extended to 190mph as part of an optional driver’s package. And who wouldn’t.
A full throttle autobahn run at its launch on the outskirts of Munich last week revealed this latest M-car has no trouble reaching such dizzying heights of performance when the conditions permit.
Spectacularly muscular on-boost qualities of engine combine with tremendously effective straight line stability to provide the driver with great confidence at over double the UK speed limit and make it a formidable high-speed cruiser. There’s also sufficient compliancy within the suspension, even in its most aggressive Sport-plus mode, to ensure comfort levels remain.
For a car that stretches to over five metres in length, this latest M-car is also impressively agile on more challenging roads. It steers accurately, albeit without a great deal of feedback. In Sport and Sport plus modes the damping is sufficiently firm to ensure taut body control when you’re carrying big speed through corners.
The chassis, which is largely shared with the M5, is quite fluent in its actions, providing a degree of delicacy to the handling that is rare in this segment. It also possesses great throttle response and, thanks to the inclusion of an electronically operated M-differential, immense traction for a rear-wheel-drive car with such potent reserves.
To appease buyers in the US – which BMW M boss Friedrich Nitschke predicts will be its biggest market, the M6 Gran Coupé receives slightly more comfort-orientated chassis settings than the M5, including less aggressive electronic mapping for the throttle, steering and gearbox.
When the conditions call for more moderate speeds, you can choose to alter the intrinsic character of the M6 Gran Coupé by switching it in to comfort mode, in which the mapping of the engine, gearbox, steering and damping are placed in an altogether more relaxed state.
So configured, it proves effortless, refined and, for a car flaunting the legendary M-badge, remarkably compliant – more so than the M5, in fact. The only thing that disturbs the calm is the uncomfortable drone of the exhaust on constant throttle loads at middling revs.
Should I buy one?
The breadth of the BMW M6 Gran Coupé’s abilities are extraordinary and will no doubt appeal to many seeking everyday usability.
But for traditionalists the more practical M5 will surely remain the BMW performance car of choice, even if ultimately proves less comfortable.
BMW M6 Gran Coupé
Price £97,490; 0-62mph 4.2sec; Top speed 190mph; Economy 28.5mpg (combined); CO2 232g/km; Kerb weight 1875kg; Engine V8, 4395cc, twin-turbo, petrol; Power 552bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 502lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox 7spd dual-clutch automatic