PURISTS might well wince at BMW’s decision to focus as much of its attention on luxury as it does performance, but this slight change in direction is also a realisation that an increasing number of buyers are seeking high levels of refinement to match their car’s capability.
So BMW is promoting its latest M car, the M6 Gran Coupe, as a rapid but – crucially – luxurious four-seat coupe. The twin-turbo V8 motor gives a considerable 560 horsepower, giving a blistering 4.2-second sprint to 62mph and a 155mph electronically limited top speed. Depending on the country, that can be raised to a heady 189mph. And yes, that’s still an artificial limit.
More streamlined than a regular 5 Series and more practical than a 6 Series Coupe, this go-faster Gran Coupe appears to offer the best of both worlds if space and pace are your core requirements. The streamlined nature of the regular 6 Series remains intact despite the stretched dimensions, while the bodykit ensures that you’re reminded of the car’s potential in a way that you could never say was vulgar.
Cabin ambience is just as refined as the car’s exterior. Leather, Alcantara and the various trim elements blend well to create an environment refined enough to make a 7 Series owner jealous. Still, the tell-tale M Power details are present, such as the stubby gear lever and chunky steering wheel. And then there’s the angry bear that is the 4.4-litre twin turbo motor.
Where the M5 can feel a little workmanlike in its approach to spitting you down the road and the M6 Coupe prompts you to be precise and skilled with your inputs, the M6 Gran Coupe is a more forgiving beast. Leave the various electronic suspension, steering and engine presets alone and you can tear up the asphalt with surprising ease.
The car’s weighty steering encourages sufficient confidence to link corners together with precision and ease. Up the pace by selecting the various sport modes and the experience intensifies. Yet the Gran Coupe remains a controllable machine despite the extra speed. Never do you feel that the car is driving you – a neat trick when it’s not unusual to feel you’re just hanging on for the ride in some rival cars.
As with any other M car, it’s possible to dial up what is effectively a track-day configuration of settings, and in this situation the experience is only really something you can tolerate on wide open, smooth surfaced roads such is the car’s relentless acceleration. Still, short of turning everything off for that racecar experience, it at least demonstrates the Gran Coupe’s true potential and highlights the dual clutch gearbox’s ability to bang through the gears at a pace that’s only matched by the engine’s voracious appetite for revs.
And boy can the car go. Critics of this perceived dumbing down of the M car lineage through the increased focus on luxury will be critics no more after a few miles behind the wheel. The constant wailing and barking from the V8 motor is proof alone that none of the sub-brand’s core values have been sacrificed despite the lush interior lining.
If there’s one potential stumbling block, it’s size. This is a big old bus and, when pressing on, requires a fair bit of space. It’s the price you pay for wanting four seats and a decent size boot, and the competition is in a similar situation so it’s hardly a black mark against BMW.
What’s really impressive is the Gran Coupe’s agility. British B-roads might be a little restrictive, but find a bigger playground and pick your lines through the bends and you can be as tail-happy or as precise as you want despite all that power going exclusively to the rear wheels. The optional carbon ceramic brakes might be costly but are worth the outlay when you need to repeatedly stop the car in a hurry.
As with every other Gran Coupe, this M6 variant comes loaded with all the usual comfort and safety kit you’d expect for a car with a price tag close to six figures. Leather, heated seats, 20-inch wheels, climate control, all the various electronic safety aids you could need, seven-speed dual clutch gearbox, parking sensors and head-up display are some of the highlights.
At the risk of belittling the car’s achievements by comparing it to a fairy-tale character, BMW’s M6 Gran Coupe could well be the brand’s “Goldilocks car” as, when compared to the M5 and M6, it feels “just right”. Not too mainstream or too race car-like out of the box, but still hot enough to thrill.
CAR BMW M6 Gran Coupe
PRICE from £97,490
PERFORMANCE Max speed 155mph (electronically limited), 0-62mph 4.2 seconds
MPG (combined) 28.5mpg.
CO2 EMISSIONS 232g/km