What's New for 2006
The rip-snorting version of the 6 Series, the BMW M6, makes its grand entrance for 2006. Most significant of its modifications is a 500-horsepower V10 engine.
In the BMW universe, the letter M has always stood for something special. Short for "Motorsport," the M versions of BMW's fine machines provide increased performance by way of their high-output engines and sport-tuned suspensions. Subtle body tweaks along with special wheels and sport seats add to the M allure. The first M6 debuted in 1987 and was a pumped-up version of BMW's handsome 635 grand touring coupe (made from 1977-'89). That M6 sported an inline six modified to put out 256 horsepower -- an impressive output for that time, especially for a six-cylinder engine that didn't utilize turbocharging or supercharging. Between that car and the newest 6 Series was the 8 Series coupe (produced from 1991-'97), which was V12-powered, elegant and much more expensive. Although fast, the 8 Series was too heavy to be considered athletic, and BMW never produced an M version of it.
Now, almost two decades after the debut of the original, a new M6 has arrived on American shores. The 2006 BMW M6 possesses the same high-performance GT spirit of its 1980s precursor but is considerably more powerful and capable. Sharing its underpinnings with the current M5 super sport sedan, the M6 offers the same F1-like wail from the engine compartment, pin-you-to-the-seat acceleration and incredibly poised handling. An electronically adjustable suspension, a 50/50 weight balance between the front and rear axles and BMW's trademark ultra-communicative steering feel make the M6 a willing partner on empty canyon roads. The M6 also functions perfectly well as a comfortable daily driver and can cosset its passengers during weekday commutes. In the four-seater, ultra-performance coupe market, there are a few skilled players that can compete with the BMW M6, but they cost considerably more, making this Bimmer the bargain of the bunch.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2006 BMW M6 is a high-performance midsize coupe. Eye-catching yet tasteful M-specific equipment, such as 19-inch double-spoke wheels (wearing 255/40 front and 285/35 rear performance tires), a carbon-fiber roof and a body kit consisting of an aggressive front airdam, side sill extensions and rear diffuser, set it apart from your neighbor's 650i. The cockpit features sport seats with 16-way power adjustment and a chubby-rimmed M sport steering wheel. Of course, all the latest and expected luxury features are standard, such as a navigation system, park assist (front and rear), premium leather upholstery, wood trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 13-speaker Logic 7 audio system (with CD changer and two subwoofers), Bluetooth wireless capability, a full set of one-touch power windows and seat heaters. Among the handful of options are a head-up display, keyless ignition and Sirius satellite radio.
Powertrains and Performance
A 5.0-liter V10 powerhouse is found under the hood of the M6. Peak output stands at 500 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. With BMW's latest technology, such as infinitely variable valve timing and a separate throttle butterfly for each cylinder, the V10 has a broad spread of power that grows even more insistent as it rushes toward its 8,250-rpm redline. The sole transmission offering is a seven-speed automatic Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG). When shifted manually (via the paddles behind the wheel or the console-mounted shifter), the third-generation SMG works wonderfully, blipping the throttle expertly before blindingly fast downshifts and upshifting with rapidity that will win most stoplight races. BMW claims that zero to 60 mph takes just 4.5 seconds, while top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph.
Standard on the 2006 BMW M6 are stability control (which features a high-performance "M" mode that gives the expert driver more leeway), traction control, antilock brakes, door-mounted front side airbags, side curtain airbags and adaptive xenon headlights.
Interior Design and Special Features
An uncluttered dash and console feature simple dual-zone climate controls and handsome wood trim. Yes, there is iDrive, BMW's multifunction controller, but it's fairly easy to use, having been simplified since the first, frustrating unit that debuted in the 2002 7 Series. Multiadjustable sport seats feature aggressive side bolsters (to hold one in place during spirited runs through the corners), and along with a power tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, allow drivers of all sizes to get comfortable in the cockpit. Although the two rear seats are well-shaped, they do not provide much legroom for adult-sized occupants.
Hammer the throttle and, because the singing V10 revs so freely and fast, the SMG makes its electrohydraulic shifts verrry quickly. Yet straight-line acceleration is but one facet of this car's sporting personality. When you switch off the stability control (DSC), it's completely off, unlike other makes, where company lawyers insist some electronic safeguards remain. Thusly configured, a skilled driver can drift the finely balanced M6 with aplomb. The incredibly responsive steering lets you know exactly what's going on under the front tires when you're hustling the big coupe along. And yet all this performance potential doesn't mean the BMW M6 is hard to live with on a day-to-day basis -- the Bimmer's well-sorted and adjustable suspension keeps the car flat through the corners while also providing enough ride comfort for long road trips and the daily grind.