Review: BMW M6 Gran Coupe

‘M’ stands for medicine as well as cure-what-ails-you BMWs.

But is the new M6 Gran Coupe made of pharmacologically effective stuff?

It’s fast-acting, that much is certain. A claimed, but credible, 0-100km/h time of 4.2 seconds, courtesy of a twin-turbo 412kW 4.4-litre V8, puts it in the prescription-drug class. But this big, four-seat coupe leaves some aching doubts about what BMW is doing to its ‘M’ car formula.

This is a hefty piece of hardware. It’s long (over five metres), wide (1.9 metres) and – despite a carbonfibre roof panel – heavy (1950kg with driver). Such stats are gargantuan when compared with the lithe and agile cars that launched the M legend.

Think of the M6 Gran Coupe as an M5 with a 20cm body stretch and over-detailed, pseudo-coupe four-door styling to provide a less spacious interior. Sound bad to you, too?

And remember that the current M5 earned somewhat lukewarm reviews at launch and hasn’t established dominance over competitors the way past M cars have done. By the numbers – power, performance, efficiency – the new F10-series M5 is superior to the E60 it replaced, but the switch from naturally aspirated V10 to twin-turbo V8 came at a cost. Charisma is hard to measure, but today’s M5 certainly has less of it.

The M6 Gran Coupe’s effectively four-seat interior, however, is a special place. While BMW claims the centre of the rear seat could be used for short journeys, this assertion is probably an example of world-renowned Bavarian humour. The outboard rear seats are okay for cautious people (mind you don’t bang your head on that pillar!) up to around 180cm tall.

Get past the inherent packaging compromises, preferably by climbing into one of the front seats, and the quality of materials and evident craftsmanship are quite impressive. If you like BMW’s current interior design ethic, anyway.

On wet Bavarian backroads (it was raining, sometimes heavily, during our drive day), the M6 Gran Coupe felt big and unwieldy. The car’s torque-vectoring Active M Differential, abetted by on-the-ball traction control and chassis stability electronics, mean it can be driven very quickly. But this isn’t very much fun.

For whatever reason, the M6 Gran Coupe never feels as agile or accurate as the M5. Its favourite environment is the autobahn, where the car’s smoothness, stability and arrogant acceleration are all quite pleasing.

For German businessmen in a hurry, the M6 Gran Coupe might be an attractive proposition, but it’s not a full-strength M car.

And that’s the worry… If the dilution continues, one day they’ll be turning out homeopathic remedies instead of strong medicine.

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