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BMW M6 Convertible (2006) review

Published:25 September 2006

BMW M6 Convertible (2006) review
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

What's this, an even more expensive BMW M6?

It certainly is. At £86,400 the convertible costs nearly £5k more than the regular M6 coupe. Yes, it’s a premium price, but BMW has done the sums and knows there is a customer base, typically 45-year-old males doing rather well for themselves. The UK’s 2006 allocation of 80 cars has already sold out, 150 cars will follow for 2007. Standard equipment on both coupe and convertible remains much the same with the howling V10, 7-speed auto, 19in wheels and same suspension – albeit with tweaked software to take account of an extra 220kg. Blame the weight penalty on losing the roof (the M6’s gorgeous carbon roof) and stiffening the bodyshell to compensate.

An extra 220kg? That can’t do much for driving dynamics.

You’d be surprised. The convertible feels incredibly rigid, and there’s no evidence of scuttle shake, the one-time downfall of roofless BMWs. In fact, the rear-view mirror remains reassuringly wobble-free, even over poorly surfaced roads though the 19in wheels do clunk about at low speeds. Pile on the mph, and the M6 convertible feels incredibly sure-footed with only hooligan tactics unsticking it. The brakes, not always a BMW forté, take horrendous levels of abuse before fade sets in. The steering feels unnaturally light around town, but does provide a decent amount of resistance at higher speeds.

Does the extra weight blunt performance?

Hardly. BMW claims near identical performance figures, the convertible storming to 62mph in 4.8sec (compared to the coupe’s 4.6sec) and both cars being prematurely stopped at 155mph by the electronic limiter. With 500bhp on tap, the extra weight slows the convertible like a light breeze slows a cheetah. For all but the supercar-driving elite, either M6 will completely re-align your perception of speed.

Does such a highly strung V10 suit a convertible?

Herein lies the quandary. We’d stick to the coupe for driving thrills, but would plump for a convertible that traded manic revs for lazier torque. It does sound amazing with the roof off, though. At idle the V10 clatters like a bowling ball in a tumble drier, but under acceleration the sound is one of delicately balanced components, rampant induction snorts on down changes and some pleasingly cacophonous claps of thunder on the overrun. The 5.0-litre spins relentlessly to the wrong side of 8000rpm before the incredible 7-speed auto sends an explosive charge (passengers nearly lift out of their seat, such is the force of the shift on a full-bore change) to the rear wheels. Amazing, but not necessarily what you’d bargain for in a grand tourer.

What’s the interior like?

Largely fantastic. The seats are both comfy and supportive, the ergonomics pretty much (see below) spot on and the leather work is first class – BMW has even developed leather that absorbs less heat than regular hide. Wind noise is impressively suppressed with the roof up and, with it down, you have to reach highly illegal speeds (watch them rack up on the head-up display) before buffeting becomes a problem. Clever stuff. However, the illuminated gearknob is hilariously tacky, and the gearlever surround looks very low rent. It’s not the easiest car to place on the road, either, which was especially apparent over parts of our narrow, twisty hill route. You sit quite low and the A-pillars swoop a long way forwards, creating a sizeable blind spot.

Verdict

It’s hard not to be completely overwhelmed by this car. It looks fantastic, it’s amazingly crafted and the V10’s performance is out of this world, effortlessly shrugging off the convertible’s extra weight. It even handles. The problem is not with the M6 Convertible itself, but with how it fits into the grand scheme of things. We’d argue that such an aggressively sporting engine and transmission is at odds with the boulevard-cruising ambience of such a high-end convertible. Our advice? Either stick with the M6 coupe, or save nearly £30k and buy a 650Ci convertible.

Specs

Price when new: £88,225
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 4999cc 10-cylinder in vee formation, 500bhp @ 7750rpm, 383lb/ft @6100rpm
Transmission: 7-speed auto gearbox, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 0-60mph in 4.8sec, 155mph (limited), 18.6mpg, 366g/km
Weight / material: 2005kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4871/1855/1377

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  • BMW M6 Convertible (2006) review
  • BMW M6 Convertible (2006) review
  • BMW M6 Convertible (2006) review
  • BMW M6 Convertible (2006) review
  • BMW M6 Convertible (2006) review
  • BMW M6 Convertible (2006) review

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

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