The BMW M6 convertible is the high-performance variant of the German automaker's full-size 6-Series drop-top. It combines corrupting power with a coddling interior, plenty of technology features and a fun-in-the-sun convertible experience.
Stylistically, the M6 builds on the standard 6-Series with a much more aggressive body kit and either 19-inch or optional 20-inch alloy wheels. Wider external air intakes and new LED corona rings and accents give it a menacing appearance, although the overall look is far more cohesive and elegant than that of the outgoing model.
Inside, unique sports seats should hold both driver and passenger in place. M-specific features like the automaker's custom-tailored M Drive system and M Heads-Up display are also on board. Aside from numerous M badges, a unique three-spoke steering wheel and some minor trim differences, the cabin is otherwise standard 6-Series fare, meaning it features a driver-focused design and high-quality materials throughout.
M-style performance with a twist
The latest M6 - the third such generation to bare the nameplate - ditches the naturally aspirated V10 of the old model in favor of a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 that also sees duty in the M5. Rated at 560 horsepower, the V8 is known to Bimmer-philes as the S63T due to its close relation to the S63 used in the X5 M and X6 M. Unlike high-revving BMW M engines of yore, the V8 boasts its 500 lb-ft. of torque across an especially wide rev range (1,500 to 5,750 rpm). The engine's rev limiter is set at 7,200 rpm, which is 200 rpm higher than the S63 used in the crossovers, whereas the old V10 screamed its way up to a 8,250 rpm redline.
The V8 gets its grunt from two twin-scroll turbochargers positioned in the V "valley" between the two cylinder banks for a reverse-flow layout, which helps keep the engine especially compact and also yields a quicker warm-up of the similarly located catalysts. The turbochargers use a higher maximum boost in the M6 (21.7 psi) than in the crossovers with the standard S63 motor.
BMW says that the M6 can sprint to 62 mph in 4.2 seconds, but a 12.6-second sprint to 124 mph is even more impressive. Both models are limited to a 155 mph top speed.
The M6 offers the choice of a conventional six-speed manual or a "DCT" dual-clutch gearbox. With seven forward gears, the DCT offers sequential-style shifting from either the gear lever or a pair of paddles. Several drive modes are tailored for normal and sport-oriented driving, while a launch control system is on board for optimal 0-60 sprints. BMW's M Drive system lets the driver tailor six parameters to certain road conditions like tracks or highways.
Fuel economy for the dual clutch/V8 combo is 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway, while opting for the six-speed improves mileage to 15/22 mpg.
Helping the M6 stick to the road is an Active M limited slip rear differential and an M-specific suspension setup. Special stability control and ABS tuning will allow for sportier maneuvers than the standard 6-Series offers, while large 15.7/15.6 (front/rear) brakes should bring things to a rapid halt. Carbon ceramic brakes are an optional extra.
For those looking to spend extended periods of time at the track, BMW now offers a Competition Package that adds 15 extra horsepower (for a total of 575), new coil springs and stiffer anti-sway bars. Bespoke 20-inch alloy wheels and a sport exhaust system that features four black chrome tips finish off the treatment.
Befitting its spot near the pinnacle of BMW's model range, the M6 Convertible comes lavishly equipped with standard leather upholstery, 20-way power adjustable and heated M sports seats, a navigation system with a 10.2-inch display and real-time traffic information, a rear parking camera and front and rear park distance control to make parking a snap, radar-based cruise control, a 12-speaker premium audio system with HD radio and an iPod adapter, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, dual-zone automatic climate control and a keyless entry and start system.
Highlights from the options list include a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, ventilated seats, a night vision system and a heads-up display that transmits speed and other vital information to the base of the windshield. Also available is a Driver Assistance Package that bundles together a lane departure warning system, active blind spot detection, side and top view cameras and a speed limit info system that displays the posted speed limit in the instrument panel and heads-up display (if equipped).
Standard safety features on the M6 Convertible include dual front, side, side curtain and knee airbags in addition to active head restraints and traction and stability control systems.
Also included is Active Protection, which tightens the seatbelts and closes the windows and sunroof if it detects an imminent crash. Afterwards, it automatically applies the brakes to reduce the likelihood of a second collision.
For longer journeys, an Attention Assistant feature evaluates the driver's control inputs and issues an encouragement to rest if it detects signs of fatigue.
Those with the good fortune to be in the market for a luxurious yet high-performance drop-top can consider alternatives to the M6 Convertible such as the elegant Jaguar XKR Convertible, the spirited Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet and the controversially-styled but potent Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG.