The niche-busting product strategies of the big three German car manufacturers over the last decade has seen the introduction of previously unheard of car models, from coupe-crossovers, premium hatchbacks and four-door coupes. BMW has given its latest creation, the 6-Series Gran Coupe, its full motorsport makeover to create the bonkers M6 Gran Coupe.
What is it?
At first glance, it’s a confusing addition to BMW’s ‘M’ range, being a four-door version of the M6, which itself is a svelte two-door version of the much cheaper (to the tune of £24,000) M5 saloon. The price hike is steep, given the three cars share the same 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged engine and seven-speed automatic gearbox, but BMW is hoping to seduce buyers with the Gran Coupe’s styling and a depth of engineering and quality that puts it not only on a par with its competition from Audi and Mercedes-Benz, but with far more expensive rivals such as the Aston Martin Rapide.
What is it like to drive?
Surprisingly difficult to drive smoothly around town, with a sensitive throttle and brake pedal requiring a delicate touch. This isn’t helped by the fact that the Gran Coupe doesn’t creep forward of its own accord like most automatics, forcing owners to make minute inputs during parking manoeuvres – a tense procedure given the ferocity that lurks just an inch or two further into the throttle travel.
The trade-off to this lack of city manners is razor-sharp responses when you’re really in the mood to play. The engine is a real powerhouse, delivering breathtaking urge accompanied by a satisfying turbine-like howl that fills the cabin. The gearbox, too, which can feel a tad jerky as it juggles cogs at low speeds, really gets its act together, responding near instantly to every tug on the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and delivering an uninterrupted surge of torque to the rear wheels.
Those looking for an out and out sports car, however, may be disappointed. The steering is too numb and the car itself too big and heavy for a keen driver to really feel connected. But, for a near two-tonne luxury coupe – designed as much to cross continents as to thrill in the corners – the M6 does a very good impression of a purpose built sports car.
What is it like inside?
Drivers sit low in an expansive cabin lined with smooth leather and exposed stitching. The interior ambience strikes the right balance between sportiness and outright luxury and would provide an ideal environment to wile away the hours on a European tour. The centre-console itself is angled to the driver and in combination with the high transmission tunnel running through the middle of the car, it creates a cosseting environment, which at first can feel a little snug given the size of the car, but with a huge amount of adjustability in the seat and steering wheel there is more than enough room for even the tallest drivers to get comfortable. Tech highlights include a frankly huge widescreen multimedia display, through which everything from the sat nav to mobile internet is driven, and a heads-up display that projects current speed, navigation directions and other information onto the windscreen.
Is it practical?
Front passengers are well catered for, but due to the low roofline, rear seat passengers may start to grumble about a lack of headroom on longer journeys. The slender profile also means the boot opening is rather shallow, but as it is so long, there is plenty of space to swallow suitcases and other large items. The M6’s length also limits its practicality around town, with car parks proving a particular bugbear. However, it is fitted with a plethora of cameras, which give a top-down view of the car and its surroundings, aiding manoeuvrability.
Should I buy one?
Objectively, it is hard to recommend the M6 Gran Coupe over the mechanically identical M5. However, with such elegant styling, interior luxury and a road presence few cars can match, we feel it is a credible addition to the M lineup. Whether you think it is worth the £15,000 extra over the talented Mercedes CLS63 AMG will depend ultimately on whether you’d value that car’s slightly better everyday liveability, or the intoxicating adrenaline hit the M6 can deliver when you’re really on it. For us we’d take the latter every time.
BMW M6 Gran Coupe
List price: £97,700
Engine: 4.4-litre V8, twin-turbocharged, petrol
Top speed: 155mph (electronically limited)
0-62mph: 4.2 seconds
Fuel economy: 20.2mpg (urban), 37.2mpg (extra-urban), 28.5mpg (combined)
Emissions: 232g/km CO2
Euro NCAP rating: Not yet tested