an EXCELLENT write-up by Mark Vaughn over at Autoweek... i like how the article starts off with the old Jones' argument and dissin you neighbour who drives a lowly M5
heres the text:
"M&M: The new M6 is like the M5, only better
Published Date: 5/16/05
2007 BMW M6
ON SALE: May 2006
BASE PRICE: $95,000 (est.)
POWERTRAIN: 5.0-liter, 507-hp, 383-lb-ft V10; rwd, seven-speed SMG
CURB WEIGHT: 3700 lbs (est.)
0 TO 60 MPH: 4.5 seconds (est.)
PHOTOS: BMW M6 GALLERY
Neighbor been talking smack about his new M5? Want to silence his yappin’ pie hole once and for all? Buy yourself an M6 and tell him to meet you at the local road course for some “discussion.”
His lip will tremble, his brow will sweat, he’ll pull out a pocket hanky and start wiping at the corners of his mouth like the bad guys used to do on The Rifleman.
“Em, emmmm, M6?” he will ask. “Ya’ mean what with the lighter body, lower center of gravity and better puh, puh, puh...”
“Power-to-weight ratio?” you’ll prod.
That’s the one, you will say.
“Aw dang, lookit the time, ah, ah, ah, I gotta go!” the neighbor will stammer.
“Ya’ gotta go buy more car,” you will say smugly, “because the M6 can kick some serious M5 keister.”
But he’ll be back when he figures out the advantages of the M5 over the M6.
“I can seat five comfortably,” the neighbor will think to say about a week later.
“I can seat four, and who needs to carry anybody around when you’re lapping Nürburgring’s Nordschleife 10 seconds a lap faster, anyway?”
“Ten seconds a lap on the Nordschleife?” He will gulp. “That ain’t right, that just ain’t right!”
Oh yes, it is.
The V10 is all business, yet torquey and refined enough that you can drive it around town all day without lighting the tires.
Of course the M5 is one serious super sedan, with a superb drivetrain, svelte suspension and enough room that you can even justify it on practical grounds. The M6 is all that, only more. Hang on a minute, he’s back.
“Ah saved me a passel o’ money on the price of my 5 vis-à-vis yer 6,” the neighbor will say.
He’s got you there. U.S. prices aren’t out, but judging by European stickers, when M5 gets to the United States in October, look for prices starting around $85,000 and the M6 near $95,000 when it arrives in May 2006. And the neighbor is right about the seating, too.
But so what? We flat out enjoyed ourselves in the M6 and would have been happy paying the extra 10 or so grand (if we had it). At that level of pricing, the value factor tends to take a back seat—a less comfortable, coupe-style back seat, no less—to performance, horsepower and panache. The performance difference between M5 and M6 is slight, but significant to those who can tell.
“The biggest difference is that the center of gravity is much lower than the M5,” said M6 product manager Stefan Behr, speaking at the car’s European introduction at the Race Resort Ascari track near Seville in Spain. “You get a car that is more agile, more sporty; this makes a totally different feel.”
BMW’s favorite statistic for comparing the M5/M6 performance is the M6’s time around the Nürburgring’s old course, the twisting, snaking carnival of burned brakes and invisible turns known as the Nordschleife (say: nord shly fuh), or north loop. At that track the M6 circulates once every eight minutes while the M5 takes 8:10.
“With the Nordschleife, you need a lot of components to work together,” said Behr.
We got a chance to see what he meant, lapping not the Nordschleife but the magnificent Ascari track. If some tracks pride themselves on their challenging off-camber turns and blind corners, Ascari is a festival of big, beautiful bowls, with wide-open turns that sweep through the Spanish countryside like empty swimming pools, as attractive to skateboarders as racers.
We went out for our first session without pushing any of the M6’s prodigious supply of buttons, just went out and explored the track at speed with everything set on default. We used the paddle shifter, of course, but not any of the other electronic adjustments.
The M6 was stable throughout. It rides on 255/40ZR-19s in front and 285/35ZR-19s in back that will carry either the Continental or Pirelli name when they come here. Wheels are a fairly unflattering five-spoke design unique to the M6. Despite the presence of other electronic systems, there is no active antiroll bar on the M6, nor the active steering found on the regular 5 Series. That is nicely appropriate.
Aerodynamically, instead of bragging about downforce, which doesn’t really come into play in a street car, even at a racetrack, BMW engineers like to say the M6 has “less upforce,” which is more accurate.
“It’s very well balanced,” says Ulrich Bruhnke, head of BMW’s M division.
See those little buttons next to the shifter? They change the whole character of the M6, from moderate cruiser you'd trust to the valet, to howling screamer you'll never let go of. The front seats are comfortable after a long day, yet side bolsters are strong enough to keep you in place at the track. And the back seats, while not exactly spacious, are not cruel, except rear seat passengers aren't driving.
With the power defaulted at 400 for those first laps, it still felt pretty quick. The car is fairly light weight, at least by the standards of big, heavy coupes, weighing in at 3927 pounds using the European standard, with a full tank, driver and 15 pounds of luggage. That might fall below 3700 pounds by U.S. curb-weight measures. In either case, it is 99 pounds lighter than the M5, with an aluminum hood and decklid, as well as carbon fiber bumper mounts and a carbon fiber roof. It feels agile, but in a grand-touring way, not so much a sport-sedan way.
Then we came back into the pits and reset everything. You can control four things with simple buttons next to the shifter (which means you need not delve into iDrive): engine power, Dynamic Stability Control, Electronic Damper Control and shift shock.
With the top button we switched peak horsepower from an already impressive 400 to the full wallopin’ 507, a number that is “just a coincidence,” and no relation to the iconic 507 roadster of yore, they say. The system simply does not open the throttle the whole way when it is in the 400-hp mode.
The second button down is for DSC. It goes off when it is switched off, unlike the Lexus GS 430, for instance, which never goes all the way off.
Below that is the EDC. It has three settings: sport, normal and comfort, indicated by two, one and no lights on the console readout.
You can also program the rev counter to pop up on the windshield in front of you, which proved real handy while lapping Ascari.
All those settings can be programmed into the system and reset automatically by pushing the MDrive button. Problem is, while the MDrive button itself is simple to hit, setting it up is a submenu of that byzantine iDrive. But if you own this car you should eventually figure it out.
There is also a launch control program that limits wheelspin to an optimum 18 percent, but we didn’t want to provoke the humorless Spanish track worker at pit-out, so we left it off.
Nonetheless, the M6—tuned to full sport on all parameters—is an entirely diff*erent animal.
The seven-speed sequential manual gearbox (a six-speed manual may or may not come to us; BMW North America insists it will, BMW AG sounds less sure) will stay in the harshest end of the shift spectrum where you’ve set it as long as you are flooring the throttle. We floored the throttle exiting the pits and were rewarded with spine-thumping shifts under acceleration. The only previous such shifts we recall (other than the M5) were in the late GMC Typhoon—it wasn’t an adjustable shifter, it just kicked you in the can at every gear change, which might have contributed to that vehicle’s eventual market demise.
The SMG boasts 97 percent efficiency compared to 90 percent typical of automatics. It doesn’t creep forward in first gear, which is kind of weird to those accustomed to regular automatics.
The 5.0-liter V10 at full 507 hp is all you will ever need. With DSC off, it can easily slide the car around. It’s a joy to listen to it roar. While it certainly can get the M6 out of line, it never becomes unmanageable. As Behr says, you need a lot of the components to work together. Redline is 8250 rpm, perhaps one of the highest-revving street engines of this displacement. Every cylinder gets its own throttle butterflies, each pipe in the exhaust manifold is the same length, the V10 weighs 528 pounds, only 2.2 pounds more than the BMW 4.4-liter V8.
The rear differential recognizes not just torque differences between rear wheels but also speed. In theory it can transfer 100 percent of torque to the wheel with the best grip. It even has cooling fins on the lower part of the casing!
The most impressive thing perhaps is the maxed-out SMG transmission, which bangs the gears up and down with such authority that you feel downright obliged to drive more aggressively, to knock a few seconds off your last lap time, to do something fast and smoothly. The M6 definitely has more to offer than we were able to extract that afternoon. We were tempted to spend the $150,000 initiation fee to join Race Resort Ascari, learn Spanish, and move to Seville. We wanted to stick around, learn the track, learn the car, learn the limits of both.
These thoughts occur when lapping.
Later we calmed down a bit and regained our balance. In addition to the cost of the M6 and its one-year delay in getting to the United States, there are other drawbacks.
As we entered the pits we heard a clinking-clanking sound that turned out to be the brake pads contracting as they cooled. Behr says U.S. production pads will not be like these and there will be two kinds available. He also pointed out the discs are steel (not expensive, squeaky ceramic), with swing calipers, which eliminates the need for extra pistons. As it is, the fronts have two pistons, the rears one.
The M6 is not a Porsche/Ferrari alternative, so you can’t look at it as a sports car. It’s a grand tourer, a Mercedes AMG CL55/ Aston Martin DB9 alternative. Which isn’t a bad thing.
“You can go from Munich to Milan, then you can push the button and go to the track,” says BMW board member Burkhard Goeschel.
It all sounds so reasonable. And it is faster than an M5, remember."
Here's a link to the photo gallery for the M6 as well: