2013 BMW M6 Introduction

The third generation of the BMW M6, which has been around for 25 years, incorporates many new high-performance features, starting with a compact and powerful 4.4-liter V8, mated to a 7-speed twin-clutch transmission with paddle shifters. The M6 convertible made its debut May 2012 with a coupe following late summer.

The 2013 BMW M6 breaks new ground, with acceleration from 0 to 60 in four seconds, delivered by the 560-horsepower twin-turbo V8 engine, which features high-pressure direct injection and variable valve timing and control. The car can be programmed to more than 200 combinations of suspension, throttle, transmission, steering and traction settings. In other words, the M6 delivers racecar performance on the track, or can be driven casually to the grocery store. However its nature can't be totally disguised, so if all you need or want is a big, beautiful, and smooth BMW, the 640i looks the same and is simpler and easier to drive.

The 2013 M6 has an athletic aura, with powerfully taut surfaces, elegant lines, and precise contours. Its long hood and smooth bulging fender flares are impressive. From the rear, it suggests it's about to leave you in its dust, with a wide track, fat tires and four exhaust tips coming out of the diffuser that's integrated into the lower rear fascia. The sweeping silhouette looks best in black. The heated glass rear window of the 2013 M6 convertible opens with the top up. The top can be lowered in 19 seconds or raised in 24 seconds, at 25 mph, or with the key fob.

The leather seats adjust every way imaginable, including lumbar, thigh and headrest. They have more bolstering than those in other BMW 6 Series models, but still not enough for the hard cornering that the M6 can do on the track, where BMW rightly says the M6 comes into its own.

The instrumentation is clean and beautiful, with silver-rimmed analog gauges befitting of such a high-performance car. The Head-up Display is optional, and it's so good that it should be a must with the fast M6 that needs your eyes on the road. BMW's display brilliantly uses color, and it's excellent for the navigation directions that can be displayed.

The center stack is relatively tidy angled toward the driver. The navigation is displayed on a beautifully wide 10.2-inch screen with a big eave and special treatment so it can be read in the sunlight. We drove with the top down in sunny California, and it works, a great relief because many information screens can't be seen.

There's not much rear legroom, but who among M6 owners cares.

The new V8 engine is more compact than the V10 it replaces, and makes a bit more horsepower and torque. All 500 foot-pounds of torque is available from 1500 to 5700 rpm, and on the highway, that incredibly broad range almost takes the fun out of the 7-speed transmission with paddle shifters, because you don't have to use it much. The engine redlines at a sweet and heart-pounding 7200 rpm, and its exhaust note is distinctive, yet not as deep or satisfying as the big V8 Mustang or Camaro. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph, achievable by the M6 on a number of tracks around the country such is its amazing acceleration performance.

The all-new 2013 M6 is loaded with sophisticated electronic driving features. Unlike other 6 Series BMWs, which use a button to select up to five driving modes, the M6 has three settings each for the shock absorber stiffness and damping, transmission shifting, throttle response, steering quickness and weight, and stability control. So there's little we can say about dynamics, because if the ride is too firm, you can make it softer. If the steering is too slow, make it quicker. And so on.

There's the Auto Stop/Start feature, which saves some small amount of gas by turning the engine off every time the car stops moving, and turning it back on when you take your foot off the brake pedal. It's unpopular among BMW owners because it's annoying. With the M6, it doesn't avoid the gas-guzzler tax.

BMW estimates the fuel mileage at 14 miles per gallon in the city, 20 mpg on the highway, or 16 mpg combined. We got 13.6 mpg. We hammered it a lot.

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