BMW M6 — Automotive nirvana

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

We discovered it takes great restraint and discipline to make the 2013 BMW M6 coupe a daily driver. The actual daily commute is not the problem — the M6 is docile on the busy suburban streets when it's instructed to be, and it can be charming as it cruises the boulevard teasing the curious onlookers.

Ready for action at any time are 560 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque from a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 mated to a seven-speed double clutch (automatic/ manual) transmission with shift paddles. That's why reasonable restraint and discipline is important. You simply can't be docile for long with this kind of adrenalin-pumping power at your disposal. You quickly realize out on the highway cruise control is your best friend.

The third generation M6 is the "pumped up" version of the newest 6 Series coupe, introduced in 2012 in hardtop and convertible formats, a large car stretching out nearly 193 inches and weighing in at a rather porky 4,255 pounds, despite sporting a lightweight carbon-fiber roof. But unlike a large car that has put on a little flab with age, the M6 is more like a well-trained heavyweight fighter, all muscle and ready to do damage to an open stretch of highway or a winding rural blacktop.

The modified twin-turbo V8 reaches the 500 pound-feet of torque almost instantly with the sweet spot ranging from 1,500 to 5,750 rpm. This output translates into breathtaking performance measured at 4.0 seconds from a standstill to 60-mph. A quarter mile can be reached in a scant 12.3 seconds at 115-mph as the seven-speed does a masterful interpretation of the fastest gun in the West.

The quickness of the M6 combined with its solid feel yields a wonderful road car persona. While this exhilarating experience might not be as cutting edge on the track because of the car's bulk that has to be continually corralled, we found just the opposite on the paved public roads where the M6's road-holding attributes are masterfully impressive. And that's where a majority of these Ultimate Driving Machines will live.

There are three settings for the suspension, steering, transmission and throttle responses — Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus — that can be adapted to your mood swings. We found the M6 is a car for "all seasons" simply by leaving it in the "Comfort" zone.

One option on our test car was carbon ceramic brakes that can stop the M6 incredibly fast, but at $8,700 you might be better served to spend the cash on a European vacation — that is unless you regularly use your M6 on the track.

The M6 sports a handsome, contemporary design guaranteed to turn heads and should wear well over time. The chiseled flanks, long hood, and sinister all-business interpretation of the BMW face tells even the casual onlooker this low, wide coupe is a mean expensive machine.

As you would expect from a car costing six-figures the interior boasts world-class craftsmanship, top-quality materials including fine leather and real wood, and the latest in electronic equipment. Perhaps we've become familiar over time with the intricacies of BMW's iDrive electronics interface to actually find it somewhat intuitive, but it may prove complicated for the uninitiated. And like so many automotive systems in a world of rapidly expanding infotainment features it can be distracting while driving.

We found the well-powered front seats adaptable — especially for a sports car of this magnitude — with race-car-like support that didn't impede on our wide-body comfort. Unfortunately, despite the coupe's rather large size, rear seating is cramped and uncomfortable for adults.

The M6 coupe comes well equipped at the starting price of $108,295 including destination charge and a $1,300 gas guzzler tax. Included are such things as 19-inch alloy wheels, 16-way power heated front seats, a rearview camera, navigation, a surround-sound audio system with satellite radio and the aforementioned adjustable suspension system. The convertible edition starts at $116,845 including destination and gas guzzler tax.

Options are many and expensive. As noted we would not check off the nearly nine grand brakes — the standard brakes are better than most on the market at any price — but we would consider the Driver Assistance package that includes lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, a speed limit information display and an array of cameras that provide top-down and around-the-corner views. It's a $1,900 extra.

Our test coupe carried a bottom line of $123,345 and probably represents an average sales price with a handful of options. Regardless of final price, we found the 2013 M6 a car worth aspiring to as a reward for success in life.

Base price: $108,295; as driven, $123,345
Engine: 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8
Horsepower: 560 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 500 pound-feet @ 1,500 rpm
Drive: rear wheel
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Seating: 2/2
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Length: 192.8 inches
Curb weight: 4,255 pounds
Luggage capacity: 11 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 21.1 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 20 highway, 14 city
0-60: 4.0 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Mercedes CL-Class, Audi R8, Jaguar XKR

The Good
• Awesome performance
• Quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic
• World-class interior
• Head-turning styling

The Bad
• Hefty price tag for some options

The Ugly
• Rear seats extremely tight