2013 BMW M6 Convertible Test Drive

21 06 2012

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet, Heavy Like the Man of Steel

In practical terms, the new 2013 BMW M6 Convertible is an M5 with half the  doors, more of the weight, and none of the roof. It uses the same  560-horsepower, twin-turbo V-8 that, on top of delivering more power than the  outgoing V-10, returns better fuel economy.  The drive wheels (rear) are the same, as are the seven-speed twin-clutch  transmission and the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.

Also similar is the “Are  we really going that fast?” effect resulting from spurts of wide-open throttle.  It’s the product of a subdued engine note, nice damper control, and endless  torque. At 4490 pounds, the M6 weighs 106 pounds more than the already portly  M5, and, as you might expect, it posts slightly slower acceleration numbers as a  result — “slightly slower” though, in this case, means reaching 60 mph takes  3.9 seconds.

Unfortunately, reaching that acceleration requires using the same fussy and  cumbersome launch control system found in the M5. The process: Turn stability  control off, ensure that the transmission is in its most aggressive shift  setting (S3), lightly step on the brake with your left foot, and hold the  shifter forward. When the flag appears on the dash, go to wide-open throttle,  and, when the revs settle, release the brake pedal. There are many problems  with this process. Obviously you can’t use launch control when the car is still warming up, nor  can you use it multiple times in a row. The absence of a “Launch Control  unavailable” warning on the dash means you never know why the car isn’t entering  launch control. Instead, you get frustrated, wondering if the car isn’t ready,  or you’ve done something wrong. It’s easy to get something wrong. You can’t hold the shifter forward too long,  or else the car exits launch control, and “lightly” is a very vague description  of how to press the brake pedal — you have to breathe it with your left foot.  The system allows you to choose the launch rpm, but only allows you to do so  when the engine is revving and ready to launch, forcing you to set your desired  engine speed quickly with the cruise control toggle. (The current Mustang allows  you to choose engine speed through a digital display at any time.) Drag racing  is not the M6’s focus, but any user interface should work intuitively,  regardless of the car’s purpose.

Fortunately, braking performance is simpler, and quite impressive. We recorded a  best stop from 60 mph of 105 feet. And despite being… let’s say,  lightness-challenged, the M6 posted a best lap around our figure eight of 24.6  seconds and generated average lateral acceleration of 0.98 g. It pushes  initially, but becomes surprisingly neutral after the tires warm up. Quick  torque delivery thanks to nearly instant-on turbochargers means big, smoky  powerslides are one firm press of the right pedal away.

Having a convertible top allows you to savor the satisfaction of said  tire-spinning shenanigans as the smoke wafts through the beautifully upholstered  cabin, given that you’ve allotted 19 seconds to drop it. Closing takes 24  seconds, near the 20 seconds required by the Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG. The M6  allows you to open or shut the roof at speeds up to 25 mph, something that the  SL’s rear hinging mechanism prevents. We haven’t even touched  on the technical tidbits inside: the radar cruise control, the array of cameras  for parking assistance, the fuel saving stop-start. These pieces reinforce the  engineering exercise that is the M6. Making something this heavy go this fast  with improved fuel economy is a feat worthy of admiration. Yet it remains a  4500-pound sports car, and while that weight is many things, it doesn’t conjure  passion or desire.
  • BASE PRICE: $115,295
  • PRICE AS TESTED: $125,595
  • VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front engine, RWD, 4-pass, 2-door convertible
  • ENGINE: 4.4L/560-hp/500-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8
  • TRANSMISSION: 7-speed twin-clutch auto.
  • CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST): 4490 lb (51/49%)
  • WHEELBASE: 112.2 in
  • LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 193.0 x 74.8 x 53.9 in
  • 0-60 MPH: 3.9 sec
  • QUARTER MILE: 12.3 sec @ 115.2 mph
  • BRAKING: 60-0 MPH 105 ft
  • LATERAL ACCELERATION: 0.98 g (avg)
  • MT FIGURE EIGHT: 24.6 sec @ 0.85 g (avg)
  • EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON: 14/20 mpg
  • ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY: 241/169 kW-hrs/100 miles
  • CO2 EMISSIONS: 1.20 lb/mile
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