Review: BMW M6 Convertible

The BMW M6 Convertible disabuses the notion that all soft-tops are created equal... and soft

Part-poseworthy, part-performance. Those are probably the best terms used to describe the M6 Convertible. With all the world moving towards relatively smaller capacity engines boosted by turbochargers, some will invariably lament the passing of the naturally-aspirated screaming V10 engine, which powered the last generation M6 variants.

Like the M5 and M6 Coupe siblings, the M6 Convertible is animated by a twin-turbocharged 4.4l V8, which belches out an interstellar 560bhp and 680Nm. What exactly do these numbers mean? Flat-out, the close-to-two-tonne M6 Convertible will gallop to the 100km/h mark in a dismissive 4.3 seconds on its way to a de-restricted 305km/h (M Driver’s Package).

Needless to say, the new V8s tend to be more fuel efficient and more powerful compared with the naturally-aspirated counterparts they replace but there is more to enthusiastic driving than just blistering A-to-B pace. For instance, despite a 10 percent increase in engine output and a 30 percent jump in peak torque, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions have been reduced by more than 30 percent. The M6 Convertible returns a combined fuel consumption figure of 10.3l/100km and emissions of 239g/km CO2.

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The new twin-turbo V8 power plant drinks only 10.3l/100km so the planet will not hate you too much for driving the M6 Convertible

We already waxed lyrical about the new 6 Series Convertible previously (tested in 650i guise), especially since it retains a rag-top for that classical soft silhouette with the roof up. Another benefit of a soft-top over a folding hardtop is the absence of cumbersome hardware that accompanies the latter and typically results in a derrière that would do Niki Minaj proud. The sleek and muscularly styling catches eyes for all the right reasons, so one never feels like a showboating dandy in a Mexican soap opera; unless you are currently playing a showboating dandy in a Mexican soap opera, of course! 

The few badges around the car give the M6’s game away, although these are rather unobtrusive, especially the small emblem affixed to the front grille, which we feel is perfectly in keeping with the brand’s understated credentials – those who know, know. The characteristic flying buttress roof-styling of its predecessor has been carried over into the new 6 Series Convertible, although we should add that the recently launched M6 Coupe will even come with a lightweight carbonfibre roof for enhanced handling dynamics (first seen on the E46 M3 CSL).

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In keeping with the M brand's philosophy, the M6 Convertible is not plastered in M badges

 

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The M6 seats four but, as you can see, it won't be a comfortable ride - unless your passengers are hobbits...

The roof can be actuated from standstill and while on the move at speeds of up to 40km/h; it takes the roof 19 seconds to open and 24 seconds to close again. The heated, vertical glass rear window, which is situated just behind the rear seats, can retract independently of the soft-top itself, great for listening in on the engine’s sonorous soundtrack during bouts of fast road use, yet not exposing oneself to the sun or rain.

On the move, the M6 Convertible gives us the impression it is more grand tourer than outright sportscar. Like all of the new crop of M models, it has a dual personality that tries to be everything from an everyday car to a track special, especially those who might have found the earlier M models to be too uncompromising. With the option to configure two M modes, which can be accessed via the sports steering wheel, one can even toggle between His- and Her-specific driving logic.

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Steering wheel-mounted paddles give immediate and convenient access to the transmission

If you must, think of it as Porsche’s gambit with the Cayenne and Panamera, which arguably opened the doors to a new group of buyers who didn’t know, or care as much as hardcore purists about where the brand has come from. Of course, once brought into the fold, this group could then be immersed in the entire brand experience, which would give them a better appreciation of the marque.

Although the M6 Convertible will gamely sit two in the back, be warned, space is rather confined, even for those of average height; any journey above 15km is likely to be rather taxing. However, with the roof down, the rear occupants won’t be expected to hunch over as much, so we’d expect the operating range to improve slightly. There’s never any sense of urgency about the car, so it’s possible to drive it as fast or as slow as one prefers. Despite its performance credentials, the car never rides poorly, even with the large sports alloys, but one feels every inch and weight transfer of the car’s sizable proportions as the red mist descends and you start to push it in the corners.

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If you merely want to hear the noise of the exhaust as you push the revs, simply drop the vertical glass rear window, behind the rear seats. This can be done without going completely topless

 

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Roof-up, you might feel cut off from the pace of the M6, unless you drive like a granny in which case this is the wrong car for you

Flat-out, the M6 Convertible puts on pace with unseemly haste, which is all the more remarkable because of its hefty kerbweight. The seven-speed M-DCT, or BMW’s iteration of the dual-clutch transmission, shifts cogs with authority that can be as slurred or as swift as one prefers.

Steering wheel-mounted paddles give immediate and convenient access to the transmission, which means never having to remove one’s hands from the helm for better control of the car, as an angry bellow punctuates every up/down shift. Although there is an option for carbon-ceramic brakes, the standard items proved more than up to the task of reining-in the M6 Convertible’s furious fast-road pace without too much heart-in-mouth histrionics.

Driven in anger, the surge is relentless, as the needle arcs far beyond road-legal speeds in a few heartbeats. Roof-up, there’s some detachment from the speed outside, but as with most convertibles, the M6 Convertible is better experienced with all the aural and visual drama that accompanies dropping the top. Few soft-tops are as capable of such forceful intercontinental pace as the M6 Convertible.

Technical Specifications

  • Model: BMW M6 Convertible
  • Engine: 4395cc, 32-valves, V8
  • Power @ rpm: 560bhp at 6000-7000rpm
  • Torque @ rpm: 680Nm at 1500-5750rpm
  • 0-100km/h: 4.3 seconds
  • Top speed: 250km/h (M Driver’s Package: 305km/h)
  • Transmission: 7-speed M-DCT
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