BMW M6 Convertible review
Like the M5's powerplant, but want an open sports car? Here's the new BMW M6 Convertible.
Graeme Lambert

Published on June 1, 2012

Overall rating: 4/5

The ugly duckling of the family finally becomes the swan - BMW takes the best bits of the new M5 and installs them in the pretty 6 Series Convertible body. A new M6 is the result; a car that manages to tick plenty of boxes, though the high price and relative lack of occasion may be enough to dissuade some.

In the metal 4/5

We drove this car in the US, a country where Big Gulp cups of coffee and doubled-up Whoppers are seen as the norm - and so the BMW M6 fits right in. In fact, against the gargantuan SUVs, massive minivans and serious pick-ups the BMW almost seems compact. When it lands here it will be a different story; think of it more as a Grand Tourer (minus the roof) than a proper sports car. Size helps with presence though, and the M6 certainly isn't lacking in impact - the 30mm wider track, 19-inch wheels (twenties are optional) and aggressive M style bumpers front and rear make sure it doesn't go unnoticed.

That less-than-compact bodywork does benefit occupants; there's plenty of room up front and even adults should be able to stomach the rear seats for a short period. Those who've called shotgun benefit from excellently adjustable and comfortable M sports seats, while the bespoke instruments and carbon fibre trim make the interior feel special. The big news is the steering wheel though, which although retaining the oversized rim that BMWs are famed for, also features a slimmer central boss and spokes - making the gear shift paddles much easier to see. And of course the fabric roof, which can be raised and lowered at town speeds, is smooth, quiet and efficient both in operation and on the move, while the separate glass rear screen acts as an excellent windbreaker.

Driving it 5/5

Bang and the dirt - or in this case that last corner - is gone. Borrowing its engine from the mighty new BMW M5 there was never any doubt that the M6's performance was going to be explosive. One look at the figures proves there's even less to be asked, 0-100km/h being dispensed with in 4.3 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h.

But like its saloon-car brother, it's the way in which the M6 achieves these numbers that's so startling. With 680Nm available all the way from 1,500rpm until 5,750rpm acceleration is instantaneous regardless of the gear you are in. On the road it makes the M6 a devastatingly quick tool, and packs of cars are picked off in one bite while straights are devoured like a simple amuse bouche.

With the M5 many have criticised the power and performance as being too much for the road - and in some ways that still plays true here. For us you can never really have too much of a good thing though, and no-one looking at buying an M6 wants to be disappointed by the performance on offer. There's likely to be little to quibble about with this car's technology either, as, like the M5, it boasts an array of electronically controlled chassis, engine and steering options. Three modes (Comfort/Efficient, Sport and Sport+) can be applied to throttle response, steering weight and dampers while three speeds can be selected for the excellent seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

For those that want to look like Steve Soper behind the wheel there's even a Sport mode for the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control), which allows a small degree of slip before reigning it all back in again. The array of different configurations can be a little confusing, but once you've found your desired settings there is the ability to save them in one of two steering wheel mounted buttons, a bit like the memory of an electric seat. Certainly the ability to leave the car in its softest settings works brilliantly for cruising, while the pre-saved selection of more hardcore options is perfect for a surprise back road or if there are plenty of cars to overtake.

The chassis settings in particular work very well, the M6 displaying more than ample levels of grip. On the bone dry tarmac of our Santa Barbara test route we struggled to unsettle the car, only the clumsiest of inputs and moves could fluster the chassis, and a gentle dab of the brakes quickly brought everything back under control. Along with the strong brakes (carbon ceramics are optional) and prodigious performance from the engine it made for a devastatingly quick all-rounder.

What you get for your money 3/5

If ever there was a sticking point for the new M6 Convertible this is it: when prices are announced for the Irish market we expect it to be significantly more expensive than the BMW M5, a car with the same engine and transmission, equal performance, more practicality and arguably as good if not better looks. And from that point of view the M6 starts to look expensive. If it was our money we'd buy the M5 instead. And if you must have a roadster then we'd send our glances in the direction of the Porsche 911 Cabriolet or slightly more expensive Mercedes-Benz SL 63 AMG, both of which have a greater sense of occasion than the M6 does.

Worth Noting

A manual M5 has already been unveiled, for the North American and Canadian markets only, so it's reasonable to assume that the M6 will potentially receive the same option - though execs were remaining tight-lipped during the launch event. In the saloon it does delay the 0-100km/h time by one tenth of a second, due to the lack of launch control, but when the sprint takes a little over four seconds that's no big deal. What is big is the fact that this combination will never likely come to Ireland - our demand for BMW's M range is just too small.


Looking for a hardcore sports car? Keep looking, as quick though this new M6 unquestionably is, it is not a car best enjoyed while wearing a helmet and clipping the apex. As an all-rounder though it's undoubtedly worthy of your attention. Wind in the hair motoring, a comfortable and impeccably well-appointed interior and a chassis, engine and transmission combination makes it one of the fastest (both in a straight line and a bend) convertibles we've ever driven - if only it felt a bit more special.


Tech Specs

Model testedBMW M6 Convertible
Engine4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol
Transmissionseven-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body styletwo-door convertible
RivalsMaserati GranCabrio, Mercedes SL 63 AMG, Porsche 911 Cabriolet
CO2 emissions239g/km (Band G, €2,258 per annum)
Combined economy27.4mpg (10.3 litres/100km)
Top speed250km/h
0-100km/h4.3 seconds
Power560hp at 6,000rpm
Torque680Nm at 1,500- to 5,750rpm