by: Mike Ginsca
Performance – 5.0L V10 engine producing 507hp. And that should end the Performance section of the review… but there’s more to it than that. The power of this engine is monumental and just like the M3, it progressively gets delivered to the rear wheels which makes the car very easy to control. If you feel intimidated by the power, it can be dialed back to just 400hp by pressing a button on the center console labeled “Power”. Actually, nearly every aspect of how this car drives can be changed to your specific driving style. The suspension can be set to 3 different settings (comfort, normal, sport) through BMW’s EDC system, the engine’s power (as mentioned before), and the SMG gearbox’s shift speed. Speaking of the gearbox, it is the worst I’ve ever encountered.
It is a 7-speed single clutch automated transmission and I believe it is BMW’s 3rd generation of this particular type of gearbox. When setting off from a stop, it hesitates and requires you to give it quite a lot of throttle before it starts moving the car. Once the car is up to speed, shifting (in the most comfortable setting) takes literally 2 agonizingly long seconds. 2 seconds may not sound like a lot of time but for a transmission it’s like a decade, shifting should be almost instantaneous. Not only does it take a while to shift but when it does, your entire back gets lifted off the seat back and when the ECU re-engages the clutch, you get thrown back into the seat. To my surprise, it is smoother and more responsive in the fastest shifting mode but even that is still not as smooth or as quick as a dual clutch, automatic, or even a traditional manual gearbox. After driving this car, I was told that it can be smoother if I had lifted my foot off the gas pedal while the computer was shifting. But then I’m just doing what I would normally do in a traditional manual so why didn’t BMW just make all M6s with a conventional 6-speed manual?
Thankfully the M6 is more of a grand tourer car so when you’re driving on a long cross-country road, you’ll usually be in 7th gear and there won’t be a need to shift at all. The suspension is comfortable, even with the 19” wheels and low profile tires, but because the suspension is soft doesn’t mean that it rolls through corners. I wouldn’t say that it handles better than the M3, it doesn’t and its extra weight can be felt, but for what it is, it’s better than its other German rivals.
Comfort – The Grand tourer “theme” continues inside the cabin with plush red leather seats and a traditional wood grain dash. The fit and finish of the interior is definitely a step up from the M3 (as it should be) but it still has a sense of familiarity, as in, you know where everything is even if you’ve never been inside of the car before. The iDrive control is right next to the hand brake, the “M” button is in the exact same place as in the M3 on the steering wheel, and the vehicle driving settings are next to the shifter. In the back seats, the space is plentiful but getting into those back seats requires some acrobatics to get past the front seats.
Odds and Ends – This car looks… well, odd. I do like the Carbon Fibre roof and the design of the 19” wheels but the headlights look too small and not aggressive enough for what the car is and the trunk lid looks like an afterthought. This particular car also had an aftermarket exhaust, a very loud aftermarket exhaust. Needless to say, I had a lot of fun accelerating in 1st and 2nd gears but it did cost me in my wallet. This car is very thirsty; 5L of gas will only add another 15 or so km on the trip computer.
This car is fun in its own ways but it is also one of the most hateful cars I’ve ever driven and it was all because of that horrible gearbox. If you want to drive aggressively and have fun, avoid this car because that gearbox will make you want to shoot it, buy the BMW M3 instead. However, if you commute daily on long highways and want to be comfortable doing it, then this car is better than its competitors and worth the money.
Thank you to Autoform Performance Inc. for providing the vehicle.
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.