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May 21, 2013 > Auto Review: BMW M6 Convertible: supercar and milestone

Auto Review: BMW M6 Convertible: supercar and milestone

By Steve Schaefer, Photo: Victor Llana, Boundless Captures Photography

Cars, at their essence, are about mobility - transporting yourself, your family, your friends and your stuff around. Of course you want some comfort, some entertainment, and some functionality, but beyond that, it's all gravy. You can pilot a humble Kia Rio hatchback or a Rolls-Royce Phantom.

No BMW is an inexpensive economy car, but the M6 sits high in the lineup. Based on the midsize 5 series chassis, it's a low-slung coupe with a set of rear seats that are mostly for show and grocery bags. The driver and front seat passenger, once they lower themselves in, are treated royally.

The M designation comes from BMW's Motorsports program. Various M cars have been high-performance racecars and upgraded road cars since 1972. The first M6 goes back to 2005.

The M6 has a 4.4-liter V8, with twin scroll turbochargers, that puts out a whopping 560 horsepower and 502 lb.-ft. of torque. This vortex of power applies itself to the road through a seven-speed automatic and standard 19-inch alloy wheels. You can order 20-inchers if that is not enough for you. The automatic comes with paddles on the steering column for manual gear selection.

It's easy to find yourself moving much too fast, so the head-up display shows your speed as two (or three) digits floating somewhere ahead of you on the road. The gauges themselves are classic circles on a flat panel - a no-nonsense approach appropriate to a sports car. The speedometer goes up to 200 mph. I didn't even get halfway there during my test, although you could certainly make it well into the second hundred given enough closed road or racetrack opportunities.

The car sounds great as you roll along and push that handsome right pedal, but it's not overwhelming or distracting. I found that I used the accelerator carefully so as not to jump ahead in the typical in-town and freeway commute traffic I got stuck in much of the time.

The official 0-60 time from BMW is 4.3 seconds. A test in the May 2013 issue of Car and Driver recorded 3.8 seconds. That's mighty quick.

Besides this stunning acceleration, you can also alter the way your car performs using little buttons along the wide center console, next to the panel below the shifter. Adjust the steering feel and the suspension to Comfort, Sport or Sport Plus. The acceleration you can set in Sport, Sport Plus or Efficient.

For freeway travel and around town, Sport, the default setting, was fine. When I traversed gorgeous Highway 84 snaking across the San Francisco Peninsula, I dialed in Sport Plus and it tightened up the steering to make a small, firm effort move the car quickly with more feedback.

As a BMW, the M6 is not frilly or fussy, but the materials are fine and well crafted; the design shows a strong hand. You can feel the value and worth in the car, but unlike some other brands, the car's design is not swirly or overdone.

My tester's interior featured genuine carbon fiber in place of wood, a silvery fabric weave, presented behind a thick coat of protective plastic that blended perfectly with the black and gray interior. It wore a special, limited edition paint called Frozen Silver Metallic; a special category of flat, matte-finish coatings that you normally see on show cars. It is mighty impressive, but beware... you can't apply normal wax or rub out imperfections, so you have to baby-sit the paint diligently.

You wouldn't expect a 4,500-pound car with a huge engine to be economical. In fact, the M6 is hit with a $1,300 Gas Guzzler tax on top of its jaw-dropping price. However, in my several hundred test miles, I averaged 19.3 miles per gallon. The EPA says 14 City, 20 Highway, 16 Combined. EPA Green Vehicle ratings show a Smog number of 5 and a Greenhouse Gas figure of just 3. If you order the manual transmission, you'll improve the Greenhouse Gas number to a 4 and add 1 mpg to the fuel economy numbers.

As with any upscale convertible, you just hold down a tiny switch on the console to stow the top. Windows drop, the rear cover opens, the soft fabric top unlatches from the windshield header and gently folds into the space below the rear seats, the cover settles down over it, and the system beeps when it's done.

The base price of the M6 Convertible, with delivery and Gas Guzzler penalty, comes to $116,845. The M6 can be further enhanced with options. See your banker before you visit the dealer.

This BMW was my 1,000th test car and, my week with it was cause for celebration.

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