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BMW M6 Convertible review: First drive

The Good

  • Extremely quick
  • Head-turning looks
  • Sounds the part

The Bad

  • Thirsty
  • M4 is only slightly less practical
4.5

Ben Griffin reviews the BMW M6 Convertible; a luxury droptop with added bite.

Petrolheads with deep pockets, an affinity for the sun and sub-5 second sprints to 62mph will undoubtedly consider the M4 Convertible, but what if you want added legroom and prestige? 

That’s where the larger BMW M6 steps in. Available in Coupe, Convertible and Gran Coupe variants, we braved the UK weather to spend time in the drop top to see what this third-generation car offers for its eye-watering £97,300 asking price.

Design

The target market for the 2015 BMW M6 Convertible is reflected in its markedly more reserved styling compared with the aggressive M4. But the quad-exit exhaust, meaty M bodykit and 19-inch M light-alloys are hardly synonymous with a shrinking violet.

“Ask the passenger to guess how fast you are going and, chances are, they will grossly understimate.”Compared with the old M6, the new model benefits from LED headlights as standard, M double-bar kidney grille, M gills with side indicators, new rear apron with an integrated diffuser insert, side skirts and larger air intakes, all of which elevate it above the standard 6 Series.

The carbon fibre roof standard on the M6 Coupe and M6 Gran Coupe has been lopped off so owners can enjoy British weather at its finest. Or not, as is more likely.

The mechanical hard-top roof retracts in 19 seconds at speeds up to 21mph, but at least the car can be moving when it operates so there’s no need to pull over.

Inside is your typical BMW sturdiness and classy styling, which can be spiced up with a touch of carbon fibre detailing. The seats, meanwhile, provide enough support for spirited drives while being squishy enough for less involving motorway journeys.

Apart from a slight clicking noise in the back, the origin of which we struggled to work out, it all feels comfortable and luxurious enough without being over-the-top. Everything fits together nicely, like genuine pride was put into building it.

Practicality

Wind noise is tolerable up to motorway speeds, in part thanks to a wind deflector behind the rear seats, so while you will struggle to hear the stereo you won’t ruin your hairdo.

The usual array of storage places, glovebox and other cubby holes let you keep your bits and bobs safe. Boot space takes a dent to accommodate the roof, bringing the total down from 460 litres in the M6 Coupe to 300 to 350 litres in the M6 Convertible. No excessive booze cruises, then.

The larger exterior dimensions of the 6 Series – it’s 4,898mm long, 1,899mm wide and 1,368mm tall – mean there’s more legroom in the back for the two rear passengers, while headroom is adequate for all but the tallest driver and passengers.

Performance & handling

Gone are the days of a high-revving BMW V10. Instead, the BMW M6 Convertible uses a 4.4-litre M Twin-Power Turbo V8, which develops 479lb/ft (680Nm) of torque and has 560hp. 0 to 62mph takes 4.3 seconds – a tenth of a second slower than the Coupe and Gran Coupe – so it’s on par with the M4 and therefore still delightfully fast. 

For extra performance you can spec the Competition Package, which costs £7,300 (£6,300 for the Gran Coupe). It adds 25hp and 20Nm of torque, taking the 0-62mph down to 4 seconds. You also get sport suspension, sport steering, sport exhaust with black chrome exhaust pipes and 20-inch M Double-spoke alloy wheels.

“Admittedly the interior of a comparitive Merc is more special and the Audi is substantially cheaper and only slightly slower, but the BMW has class in spades…”An eight-speed automatic transmission spends most of the time keeping the revs to sensible levels, smoothly shifting through the ratios, but it reacts relatively quickly when you bury the accelerator. There are paddles on the steering wheel if you want to be more hands-on. Sliding the transmission selector stick right or left switches between lazy auto mode and a manual mode.

Even though the M6 is heavy, the speedometer makes its way clockwise in unrelenting fashion. Turbo lag is present, but it seems less of an issue than usual thanks to lots of torque from low revs.

The accompanying V8 soundtrack is reasonably impressive, too. At low revs it grumbles and pops beautifully and at speed it gets the blood pumping with a loud enough roar. While the Coupe is slightly subdued, the open-top nature of the Convertible means you can enjoy the soundtrack to its fullest.

Gigantic carbon ceramic brakes can be specced for £7,395 and add discs nearly 400mm in size at the front. Suffice to say, when warm these anchors stop you fast and hard without any fanfare – even with the convertible’s extra podge needed for the roof mechanism. But in all honesty the standard brakes fitted to our test car were more than up for the job.

Handling is less impressive than the Coupe, but only because of the extra bulk. Even so, grip is offered in abundance and the car feels planted and composed without being so firm UK roads become a misery. Push too hard and you can reel the M6 Convertible in without fear of repercussion, too, making it a fun drive.

What really stands out with the M6 Convertible is how happy it is to make high speeds feel mundane. Ask the passenger to guess how fast you are going and, chances are, they will grossly understimate. Driving this car fast is a cinch to the point where you can easily fall foul of the law.

Economy & environment

V8 engines won’t ever do the environment any favours, but the 4.4-litre is actually relatively efficient when it comes to CO2, with just 239g/km emitted from the exhaust.

Stop and start technology, meanwhile, helps achieve fuel economy of 27.4mpg. The M6 Convertible is hardly a car you buy to keep fuel bills low, but there is the 640d if you can sacrifice performance for frugality and for such incredible pace on tap, it’s forgivable.

The comparitively paced Mercedes-AMG SL 63 achieves a combined figure of 28mpg and 234g/km of CO2. The Audi RS 5 Cabriolet, meanwhile, can manage 26.4mpg and 249g/km of CO2. In short, it’s capable of matching the competition.

Equipment & value

To match the M6 Convertible’s pace you need to shell out £112,645 for the Mercedes-AMG SL 63, which manages 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds. That’s a sizable premium, even if the standard equipment is a little more generous. The cheaper SL 500 is only three-tenths slower, mind you, and has a base price of £81,820.

“Even though the M6 is heavy, the speedometer makes its way clockwise in unrelenting fashion.”Navigation is standard in the M6 Convertible, but then BMW is making this a standard feature across the entire model range going forward so it’s a moot point. Even so, the system is the professional upgrade, which means a larger display and extra features.

Our test car had a very modest upgrade sheet of £4,625, which included the wind deflector (£290), 20-inch M Double-spoke 343M alloys (£1,650), reversing assist camera (£375), steering wheel heating (£195) and soft-close doors (£360). All of that took the standard price of £97,300 up to £101,925. 

That’s Audi R8 money and could even get you a BMW i8, which has two fewer seats but is infinitely more special – assuming you don’t mind at least a three-year wait to get one. The simple fact is, £100,000 is a lot of dough.

With that said, if you want a snarling wolf in reasonably demure sheep’s clothing, the M6 Convertible is an excellent choice. 

Safety

BMWs are usually safe and the M6 Convertible is no different bar. Electronic safety systems can be added, including an emergency braking system that will react to a collision (even if you don’t) up to speeds of 37mph.

Emergency calling is also standard so the emergency services will be notified in the event of a crash, regardless of whether you are conscious. It’s a little extra peace of mind that’ll prove reassuring as you blast towards its limited top speed of 155mph.

Conclusion

Like the M4, M235i and M3, the M6 is wonderfully potent, yet it’s also remarkably refined. It is comfortable and able to soak up miles with ease yet can raise the hairs on your neck when you’re feeling playful as well as those of your three passengers.

Admittedly the interior of a comparitive Merc is more special and the Audi is substantially cheaper and only slightly slower, but the BMW has class in spades and is far, far prettier. Opt for the blue with grey leather pictured and you will be one happy chappy.

At this price point you could go for a BMW i8 or an Audi R8 V10 (the cheaper one, anyway), but then not everyone wants to show off. For controlled insanity that can just about accommodate a family, there are few cars as capable.

Specification

Engine4.4-litre V8 Twin-Power Turbo
Power560hp
Torque479lb/ft (680Nm)
Acceleration0 to 62mph in 4.3 seconds
Emissions239g/km
Economy27.4mpg
PriceFrom £97,300

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