Review: 2013 BMW M6 Convertible
BMW fanboys ritually enrapture themselves over the small blue, purple, and red “M” badge that designates the brand’s hulkier strains.
But these are divisive times for the Bayerische Motoren Werkes’ in-house performance shop. The 7,104 “M” cars which made their way into U.S. driveways last year are but a sliver of the nearly quarter-million vehicles sold annually by the German manufacturer, yet the boutique sub-brand is the sacred cow that can lead the faithful to believe, or revolt and insist BMW has gone Buick with squishy steering feel and soft suspension.
The lunatic fringe obsessed with horsepower-inspired horseplay stalks new model specifications with fervor, and the House of M has offered no shortage of variance over the years. For instance, only the first two successive M5 models possessed the same engine layout, a naturally aspirated inline-6. Since then, a V8 ruled the roost until the divisive V10 came along, an F1-inspired screamer that was both hard on the ears and the fuel tank. Following that, the Munich-based cult proclaimeth the future would be turbocharged, despite earlier promises against M cars with forced induction.
Thus, the latest M6 and its ragtop variant pack the same powerhouse as the M5 sedan, a 4.4-liter V8 with twin-turbos nestled cozily between the cylinder banks for tidier packaging and quicker response. This techy, direct-injected engine pumps 560 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque — which commences at a leisurely 1,500 rpm and doesn’t quit until the tach approaches 6,000 rpm, just shy of the 7,200 rpm cutoff.
Performance parameters can be manipulated with Choose Your Own Adventure levels of options: A smattering of buttons around the shifter command everything from steering effort to throttle response, transmission shift patterns, stability control intrusiveness, and suspension damping. Buttons on the steering wheel can be programmed with your favorite shortcuts to dynamic bliss, though it takes some fiddling to optimize the mélange of motoring variables, which I discovered during an afternoon with the M6 Convertible on the highways and byways outside California’s sleepy bedroom community of Santa Barbara.