First drive: BMW's M6 out in SA
PURE SPORTS CAR: It's BMW's 2012 M6, just launched in SA in parallel with the new 6 Series Gran Coupe. Images: LES STEPHENSON
Author: LES STEPHENSON
BMW SA launched its 6 Series Gran Coupe – the slightly stretched and four-door version of its latest 6 Series – this week in the Western Cape but also brought along a sexy, high-performance sweetener...
Parked at Cape Town airport along with three versions of the Gran Coupe was the swooping, stunning and utterly wantable M6 two-door convertible in the image to the right that, at 4898mm, is 109mm shorter than the Gran Coupe.
It’s also more than two metres wide from mirror tip to mirror tip and 1.368m from tar to the peak of its cloth cap.
YOU CAN WAIT FOR THE COUPE...
The M6 was designed to celebrate 40 years of the BMW M Performance badge during which more than 1000 track victories have been taken and comes with the same 4.4-litre, twin-turbo, V8 that lives under the bonnet of the latest M5 launched a few months ago in South Africa and that means 412kW/680Nm and a top speed limited to 250km/h (305km/h with the driver’s package, on which BMW SA is working).
Foot flat, the ragtop will reach the first ton in only 4.3sec as the double-clutch auto/manual sequential box works its way through its seven gears. The driver’s package is a special custom order – though why anybody would want it, given our death-sentence prisons, is incomprehensible to me.
Be prepared to pay R1 495 640.50 (yeah, isn’t the 50c funny!) for the standard car and to find out more go to the BMW SA website. Don’t forget to ask for the half-buck off for cash...
And if a cloth-cap convertible doesn’t do it for you then hang on until year-end or early 2013 for when the 6 Series Gran Coupe M-car comes on stream locally or (also on the way but available to order now) the monstrous tri-turbo BMW X5 M50d or X6 M50d.
But back to the M6...
The car might be a two-door with four seats but those in the rear are largely ornamental unless filled by four modestly proportioned adults - or two large youngsters in the back. After all, while the M6 is almost five metres long, half of that stretch is taken up by the engine bay and fascia assembly.
GOOD ON FUEL
But get in, belt up, fire up and be prepared for the ride of your life as the 295/35 ZR rubber on the 10.5Jx19 rear wheels lights up. The V8’s power is delivered in a neverending surge through the seamless double-clutch box; 200km/h comes up in 13sec and the first kilometre marker flashes past only nine seconds later. If you’ve taken the trouble to accept professional advice on honing your driving skills you can’t fail to love this machine.
If you haven’t, leave the darn thing well alone...
BMW claims 10.3 litres/100km average fuel consumption under Eurotest conditions and the M6 comes with an 80-litre tank. The modest fuel burn is helped by excellent aerodynamics and a stop/start system; the result is a 30% fuel saving over earlier cars.
It also says the M6 Convertible "occupies a unique position in the premium segment of the executive class thanks to its blend of outstanding dynamics, hallmark M conceptual harmony and everyday usability" and occupies the corporate high ground when it comes to optimising controls to individualise the car‘s set-up and invocation of driving assistance systems.
Disable that last bit at your peril.
ALL IN THE STICKER PRICE
The audio/satnav/phone/screen display is also at the top of the automotive tree.
We didn’t time the roof mechanism (after all, does it REALLY matter?) but it’s quick and does all the windows, too. Unfortunately the canvas on the unit I drove didn’t meet my requirements for slipstream silence, which is a bit of a bummer when you’ve just paid the price of a small house for the sound system.
The sticker price also buys M-specific dynamic shock-absorbers, stability control that includes M Dynamic Mode, M Servotronic steering, body strengthening using special panels; light but high-performance brakes with the extra-cost option of M carbon-ceramic discs only available in South Africa from March 2013, though given its blue callipers (see picture gallery) it seems they were fitted to the launch fleet demo car.
There’s also a head-up (why do some scribes insist on pluralising it?) display on the windscreen for satnav info, road speed, cruise control setting, engine revs and various other info bites. Frankly, I found the constant switching of eye focus tiring and annoying – even irritating.
The cabin is a work of art: M controls, double-spoked and thick leather-clad steering wheel with controls for audio and other functions, deep and bum-gripping sports seats, lots of carbon-fibre trim strips, illuminated sills and shinings of piano-black finishes.
The auto/manual sequential gearshifter is so stubby as to be almost not there (paddles on the steering column do the same job except for reverse) but thank goodness BMW hasn’t stooped to graphics for the vital info – four analogue dials are in vision dead-centre through the steering wheel.
Auto adaptive LED headlights are standard, along with BMW Night Vision with pedestrian recognition, lane departure warning, reversing camera with a bird’s-eye view option, internet access (through your cellphone) and phone apps to receive satellite radio, Facebook and Twitter.
BMW says almost all 6 Series equipment options are available, among them comfort access, active seats, heatable steering wheel, self-closing doors and B&O surround-sound.
Finally, the looks: all classic sports car with much of the length occupied by the bits ahead of the cabin firewall.and the shell catering not only for overbody airflow but also for cooling of engine and brakes, wider track and big tyres.
The nose is dominated by a fresh take on the kidney grille. The three-dimensional air intakes and race-inspired flaps, BMW says, were designed to optimise airflow to the outer air intakes and to emphasise the cars’ forward-surging, dynamic character.
The front side section of the car has familiar M gills and the forged 19-inch rims have seven double spokes in a two-tone finish. The optional 20-inch rims have five intricate double-spokes and allow a clear line-of-sight through to the powerful braking system (as on the pictured car).
The engine boom is awesome, the double-blip from the exhaust on downchanges pure fun. In fact pure describes the whole machine - pure sports car. Great one, BMW!
BMW M6 specifications.