2014 BMW M6 Gran Coupe First Review: Living the Fast-lane Fantasy
If you happen to be one of those fortunate souls with the means and desire to own a BMW M6 but simply can't live without the added practicality of an extra pair of doors and a legitimately functional rear seat, your latest round of champagne dreams has just come true. In showrooms now, the new 2014 BMW M6 Gran Coupe brings the best of both worlds together into one single and rather spectacular vehicle. We recently headed to Texas to check out this most recent addition to BMW's legendary M Squad in both touring and track environments that included hot lapping at the Circuit of the Americas as well as some considerably less intense on-road maneuvers.
BMW introduced its one and only 6 Series 4-door model last year in conventional 640i/650i forms. Now, this up-gunned Gran Coupe variant has become a stellar sibling to the existing M6 Coupe and Convertible blending its own sense of high style with all of their M-spec mechanical goodies. Like those 2-door iterations as well as the M5 Sedan, it's fitted with the most powerful version to date of the automaker's potent 4.4-liter M V8. This all-alloy, TwinPower twin-turbocharged jewel cranks out 553 horses from 6,000-7,000 rpm and a heady 502 lb-ft of torque from just 1,500 revs all the way up to 5,750. Here, too, transmission choices include the standard paddle-shiftable 7-speed M Double Clutch automatic or no-cost optional 6-speed manual transmission. Choose the former, and this roughly 4,400-lb road rocket will streak from 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds. Opt for the latter, and the interval increases to 4.3 ticks, but the top end is electronically limited to 155 mph in either case.
Visually, this M iteration of the Gran Coupe borrows various detail cues from the other M6 models but adds a few of its own to create what is arguably the best-looking M car since the original M1. Its sweeping roofline features contoured carbon fiber panels that are 49 pounds lighter than the steel/sunroof combo on the M6 coupe. Other key variations on the theme include a 4.5-inch longer wheelbase (to the same 116.7-inch dimension as an M5) that endows the aft quarters with considerably more people-pleasing charm and a unique tail treatment that replaces the 2-door model's integrated decklid spoiler lip with a more effective lower valance/diffuser design. About 150 pounds heavier and 4.2-inches longer than an M6 Coupe, the Gran Coupe is fitted with Z-rated Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires -- 265/35 front and 295/30 rear -- on unique staggered width 20-inch M light alloy wheels in place of the 2-door's 19-inch package.
That iron-fist-in-a-velvet-glove character also carries over to the M6 Gran Coupe's cabin, a realm rich in Merino leather, Alcantara, brushed aluminum and carbon fiber. While its standard multicoutour front buckets -- particularly the left-side perch -- clearly stand as the best seats in the house, the 60/40 split folding rear bench has become a lot more adult friendly in the two outboard slots, particularly in the legroom area.
As with other M cars, the M6 Gran Coupe features a dizzying array of bespoke and fully adjustable chassis and powertrain elements encompassing everything from M Dynamic Damper Control and M-Specific Servotronic power steering to M Drivelogic shift mapping on the automatic transmission, a multi-mode Dynamic Stability Control with On/M-Dynamic/Off settings and an Active M Differential with lockup range that runs from 0 to 100 percent. Dedicated buttons on the console allow each to be individually tweaked to a driver's personal preference while an additional pair on the multifunction steering wheel permits two different collective M profiles to be preset and retained for quick recall. Couple this with options like a full-color head-up display and fade-free carbon-ceramic brakes that also reduce unsprung weight by a huge 42 pounds, and the M6 leaves no doubt about its formidable pedigree regardless of where or how it's being driven.
Home of the U.S. Formula One Grand Prix, the new Circuit of the Americas outside of Austin provided an ideal venue to press the new M6 Gran Coupe to something approaching its -- or at least our -- limits. One of the most technically challenging race tracks in the county, its 3.43-miles of serpentine, elevation-changing pavement features no less than 20 corners as well as a 3,274-foot back straight, all of which showed the M6 Gran Coupe's exceptional skill set to great advantage.
While the Coupe remains the ultimate M6 from a pure performance standpoint, the Gran Coupe's nearly-as-enviable combination of quickness, speed and balance endows the newest M6 with an uber-competency that belies its actual size. Precise steering and body control, blisteringly quick gear changes regardless of transmission, super-grippy tires and amazingly progressive action from the optional carbon-ceramic super-stoppers allow it to dispatch corners as confidently as it sprints to triple-digit velocities. The car's exhilarating trackside manner largely carries over to the street, although some may find even the comfort setting on its adjustable dampers to be a tad too taut, particularly on rougher surfaces. We also found the tires were inclined to provide frequent audible notice of their high-perf personality. However, it seems a small price to pay given the prodigious upside of this total package.
For M6 Gran Coupe buyers who really do wish to play closer to the edge, BMW recently announced it will offer a new Competition Package. Beyond an additional 15 horsepower and an M Sport exhaust system with black tips, this $6,000 upgrade nets performance-focused revisions to the springs, shocks, anti-roll bars and steering gear along with even higher threshold limits for the M Dynamic Mode, Dynamic Stability Control and M Active Differential programming. One other nifty piece of work in the pipeline is a new M Power App. This free track day data acquisition software is compatible with any iPhone using iOS6 or higher on any BMW model with the BMW Apps option installed. Functioning much like a far-pricier dedicated data acquisition system, the M Power App gathers a full range of information -- acceleration, g-forces, steering inputs, throttle position, engine revs, track map and more -- that can later be displayed, reviewed and even swapped/compared with others.
The 2014 BMW M6 Gran Coupe opens at $115,225 including a $1,300 gas guzzler tax, making it the most expensive model in the M lineup. Stepping up to carbon-ceramic brakes will add another $9,250 to the bottom line and other desirable upgrades like a $3,700 B&O premium audio system, the $5,500 Executive Package and various special boutique paint and upholstery items from BMW Exclusive will push a fully loaded example close to the $140K mark. But well-heeled M aficionados who can afford the price of entry should find the return on their investment -- monetarily and psychologically -- to be quite good.
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