Like the performance of BMW's 560-horsepower M5, but want something that's more eye-catching that the somewhat understated uber-5-series? BMW has just the thing for you: the new M6 Gran Coupe.
Wearing the sleek "four-door-coupe" styling of the midsize 6-Series Gran Coupe tarted up with aggressive M Division modifications, the M6 Gran Coupe is perhaps the most striking high-performance sedan to ever wear the blue roundel badge. Underneath the sheetmetal, it shares its platform and dynamic powertrain with the mighty M5.
That means the engine bay houses a direct-injected 4.4-liter V8 with two twin-scroll turbochargers running 21.7 psi of maximum boost. Output is a staggering 560 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque from 1,500rpm - 5,750rpm.
All that power is sent to the rear wheels through an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential and the buyer's choice of transmissions: for commuting ease and ultra-low acceleration times, there's a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, and a six-speed manual is also available for purists.
The benchmark zero-to-60 mph sprint can be achieved in just under four seconds with the dual-clutch, while the stick takes a few tenths longer to do the deed. Deceleration is equally impressive thanks to enormous brake rotors - 15.7 inches at the front and 15.6 inches in back - that are clamped by six-piston calipers. Those desirous of even more stopping power can spec carbon ceramic brakes, which have the added bonus of weighing 43 pound less than their conventional components.
A stiffened suspension with forged aluminum components and a number of rigidity-enhancing measures combines with electronically controlled dampers to provide an excellent balance between handling and ride comfort; should the driver want to soften things up for a long commute or prepare the chassis for hot lapping, several pre-set damper modes can achieve either goal.
Also adjustable is the four-door's steering, which isn't the accurate but largely feedback-free electronic-assist unit of the standard Gran Coupe but instead a tactile and natural-feeling hydraulic setup. Its effort can be increased or decreased based on the driver's preferences.
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.
Inside, the normal 6-Series' stylish and sumptuous cabin is upgraded for M duty with well-bolstered sports seats, carbon fiber trim and copious amounts of "M" badges. Abundant and supple leather, French-stitched trim and numerous soft-touch materials impart a feeling of luxury that befits the lofty sticker price.
Entertainment, navigation and Bluetooth functions are displayed on a 10.2-inch high-definition display and controlled by BMW's "iDrive" rotary knob, which was much-maligned when first introduced but has since evolved into one of the more user-friendly infotainment systems on the market.
A variety of high-tech driver and safety systems are optional: Surround View parking camera system, Parking Assistant, BMW Night Vision with pedestrian recognition, a Lane Departure Warning System and Active Blind Spot Detection along with the BMW Head-Up-Display. The latest incarnation of this system projects vital information onto the windshield in full color. For audiophiles, the Bang & Olufsen High-End Surround Sound System provides what BMW describes as "a feast of aural pleasure seldom experienced inside a car."
Drawbacks to the interior include a relative lack of rear headroom - blame the dramatic roofline - and a rear center seat that's virtually uninhabitable due to intrusive transmission tunnel.
Standard and Optional Features
Befitting its spot near the pinnacle of BMW's model range, the M6 Gran Coupe 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, dual-zone automatic climate control and a keyless entry and start system.
Two optional packages are available. The Executive Package adds heated and ventilated active front seats, heated rear seats, a head-up display, auomatic high beams, full LED lights, a power rear sunshade and rear manual side window shades. The Driver Assistance Package brings a Lane Departure warning system, Active Blind Spot Detection, side and top view cameras and speed limit info.
Stand-alone options include Night Vision, a Bang & Olufsen sound system, carbon ceramic brakes and 20-inch alloy wheels.
All M6 Gran Coupe models come standard with dual front, side, side curtain and knee airbags in addition to active head restraints and traction and stability control systems.
Before adding an M6 Gran Coupe to their collection, buyers should cross-shop the stylish Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG, which offers a staggering 590 lb-ft of torque. Despite its polarizing look, the Porsche Panamera Turbo S is also worth a look thanks to its superb driving dynamics and otherworldly acceleration. There's also the option of waiting for the upcoming 560-horsepower Audi RS7.