What's New for 2008
The 2008 BMW M6 receives minor updates in the form of revised headlights and taillights and a new look for the integrated rear spoiler and brake light. Other changes include a memory system for the iDrive electronics interface, active head restraints and a few new options that include a heated steering wheel and automatic high-beam control.
Consider this: zero to 60 in 4.6 seconds, a 12.8-second quarter-mile and handling that's as confident as Randy Moss slicing through the Miami Dolphins secondary. While we could be describing an exotic two-seater with a low-slung, scrape-prone chin and a cramped cockpit, we are in fact describing the impressive credentials of the 2008 BMW M6, a four-passenger grand touring coupe that just happens to perform like a dedicated sports car.
As car buffs know, an M before the series number stands for "Motorsport," denoting the ultra-high-performance version of a given Bimmer. And in this case, the M6 is based on BMW's 6 Series coupe and convertible. The M6 offers its thrilling performance by way of a 500-horsepower V10 engine coupled to an automated clutch and sequentially shifted manual gearbox. In addition to the tire-smoking powertrain, springing for the M also gets you a sport-tuned suspension, upgraded wheels and tires, more powerful brakes and specialized styling tweaks.
Although it's related to the M5 sport sedan, the M6 weighs 100 pounds less than the M5 thanks to weight-saving measures like a carbon-fiber roof panel. Those obsessed with power-to-weight ratios should know that choosing the drop-top version of the M6 means a curb weight 500 pounds greater than the coupe. We doubt, however, that most folks would mind giving up a few 10ths in acceleration for the joy of top-down motoring (which also allows one to revel in the Formula 1-like wail of the V10).
Make no mistake, the 2008 BMW M6 is not just a one-dimensional straight-line rocket. An electronically adjustable suspension, a 50/50 weight balance between the front and rear axles and BMW's trademark ultra-communicative steering make the M6 a great dance partner on empty back roads. Of course, this is still a big coupe, and those wanting a razor-sharp handling experience will be a bit disappointed, but the M6 does counter by being very livable. Set the adaptive suspension to Comfort mode, and the M6 will function perfectly well as a daily driver.
In the high-performance four-passenger coupe and convertible market, few rivals can match the M6, especially when price is considered. Indeed, at about $100,000, nothing can touch the M6 in terms of all-out performance and four-seat capability. For that same kind of dough, you might consider a Jaguar XKR, Maserati GranTurismo or Mercedes-Benz CL550. All are highly desirable, of course, but the BMW stands tall in terms of maximum performance. Of course, one could also consider the CL63 AMG or exotics like the Aston Martin DB9 or Bentley Continental GT/GTC. But their higher prices only reinforce the M6's impressive value. For the buyer who wants a true four-passenger grand touring car that also delivers staggering performance, the M6 certainly earns the title of ultimate driving machine.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 BMW M6 is available in four-passenger coupe and convertible body styles. An ultra-high-performance version of BMW's 6 Series, the M6 has (in addition to the V10 engine and more sporting suspension tuning) specific features that include 19-inch double-spoke wheels, a carbon-fiber roof (coupe only) and a body kit with an aggressive front airdam, side sill extensions and a rear diffuser.
The cockpit features leather-upholstered sport seats with multiple power adjustments (12-way coupe, 14-way convertible) and a fat-rimmed M sport steering wheel. Of course, all the expected luxury features are standard, including adaptive xenon headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated seats, Bluetooth, a navigation system with real-time traffic updates, and a 13-speaker Harman Kardon Logic 7 audio system.
Among the handful of options are a head-up display, keyless ignition/entry, satellite radio, high-definition (HD) AM/FM radio and leather added to the dash and console. Walnut wood trim is standard in the M6, but olive ash wood and carbon-fiber trim are also available.
Powertrains and Performance
A 5.0-liter V10 powers the 2008 BMW M6. Output is impressive at 500 hp and 383 pound-feet of torque. Infinitely variable valve timing and a separate throttle butterfly for each cylinder contribute to the V10's broad power spread that only grows more insistent as it rushes toward its 8,250-rpm redline.
The sole transmission offering is a seven-speed sequential manual gearbox (SMG) that offers manual (via the paddles behind the wheel or the console-mounted shifter) or automatic operation. Worked manually, the SMG is fantastic, blipping the throttle expertly before ultra-fast downshifts and upshifting with lag-free rapidity. In automatic mode, however, the SMG is considerably less satisfying due to its lackluster and sometimes quirky responses in low-speed traffic situations. Fortunately, the driver can set preferred throttle and transmission settings via the iDrive control interface.
Acceleration is exceptionally quick -- we've timed the M6 coupe at just 4.6 seconds for the 0-60-mph sprint, with the quarter-mile taking just 12.8 seconds. The heavier convertible is just a few 10ths off those numbers, according to BMW. A clean launch requires delicate footwork -- it's all too easy to send the massive rear tires up in smoke. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph on both cars.
Standard safety features include stability control (which features a high-performance "M" mode that gives the expert driver more leeway), traction control, antilock brakes, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags (coupe only), a rollover protection system (convertible only), and front and rear parking sensors.
Interior Design and Special Features
A refreshingly uncluttered dash and console feature simple climate controls and handsome wood trim. Yes, there is iDrive, BMW's oft-criticized multifunction controller, and although it can be frustrating to use, it's worth the effort to get acquainted with it in the M6. The coveted "P500 Sport" mode (which gives you access to all 500 hp and maximum throttle response) is only accessible via the iDrive system's MDrive menu.
Multi-adjustable sport seats feature aggressive side bolsters to hold the driver and passenger in place during spirited runs through the corners and, along with a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, allow drivers of all sizes to get comfortable in the cockpit. Although the two rear seats don't offer a lot of legroom for taller folks, they're certainly usable on short trips. Trunk capacity is 13.0 cubic feet in the coupe and a still healthy 12.4 in the convertible (10.6 with the top down).
Hammer the throttle in a 2008 BMW M6 and the car bolts forward, thanks to the quick-revving V10 and likewise rapid (under manual control) electrohydraulic shifts furnished by the SMG gearbox. But straight-line acceleration is just one facet of the BMW M6's sporting personality. When you switch off the stability control (dubbed "DSC"), it's completely off. Thusly configured, a skilled driver can drift the finely balanced M6 with aplomb, as the responsive steering lets you know exactly what's going on under the front tires when you're hustling the big coupe (or convertible) along.
Yet all this performance potential doesn't mean the M6 is hard to live with on a day-to-day basis. The high-performance 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 weekday grind.