The BMW M6

The BMW M6

Just look at it – is there are better looking car from the BMW archives? The long bonnet with the ‘sharknose’ front end and its slim kidney grilles and quad round headlights. The gently sloping rear end with subtle lip spoiler. The deep glasshouse. The BBS cross-spoke alloys. It’s pure 80’s perfection and there isn’t much before or after that can touch its timeless elegance.

The 1983 M635 CSi was developed alongside the e28 M5 model and shared the M88/3 3.5 litre straight-six engine producing 286hp and 340Nm and featured all the same work that the M5 got, including uprated suspension, lighter wheels, bigger brakes and lower ride height. It was the consummate grand tourer, a rival for the Porsche 928 and Mercedes SL, but could also handle twisty stuff with aplomb. It was known as the M635 CSi in Europe, but in the US and Japan it had a name that would come into play a lot more in the future – the M6.

After the e24 went out of production in 1989, BMW retired the M6 name and it didn’t come back for 16 years, and boy did it come back with a bang. And a Bangle. In 2005 BMW wanted to bring back a big powerful coupe to their range and their head designer at the time, Adrian van Hooydonk penned the new e63 6-Series though he was following the design language at the time set out by the controversial Chris Bangle. It had a sleek front end, a great stance and neat surfacing, but the rear end brought huge criticism for the ‘stuck-on’ bootlid design. Time has been kind to the e63 though, as it really has matured with age and compared to some of the outlandish designs around today even the rear end looks normal. 

The M5 of the time had the kind of powertrain that would make a hot version really special too, so the 5.0 litre naturally aspirated engine was slotted in and all of a sudden BMW had a 500hp V10 powered sports car. As with the M5 it was only available with the SMG-II automated manual gearbox in Europe, with those lucky Americans getting a six-speed manual option. The M6 also had a convertible model so you could enjoy those delicious V10 sounds straight to your ears.

For 2011 the M6 went the same way as the contemporary M5 and sadly lost the V10, replaced by a twin turbo 4.4 litre V8 producing 560hp and 680Nm. The styling was far nicer too, with an all-new body that despite being the same length, had a 70mm longer wheelbase to push the wheels further out and reduce overhangs, and it was almost 70mm wider too. Overall the look was lower, tighter and more athletic, even though it had put on over 200kg over the e63 M6 weighing in at 1,925kg (or over 2-tonnes for the convertible). That weight was disguised incredibly well by the M engineers though, with the f13 being every bit as dynamic as the previous model, yet even better at long-distance GT duties. The V8 also sounded amazing, with a deep guttural burble combined with a bark at higher revs.

A year after the coupe and convertible, BMW decided to add a third body style to the M6 that turned out to be the most popular variant – the Gran Coupe. This was BMW’s way of making a coupe more practical, so the styling was basically that of the coupe, but with an extra 110mm of wheelbase to stretch the rear to accept two full size seats rather than the smaller ones in the coupe. Again as with the M5, in 2014 the M6 Competition Package was launched which upped power to 567hp and 680Nm, then again to 597hp and 700Nm in 2016 for the last two years of production which brought the 0-62mph time down to 3.8 seconds. This also stiffened the suspension, made everything more focused, added a freer flowing (and noisier) exhaust system and blacked out all the chrome accents on the outside. 

When 2019 came around and the new M5 was created, BMW decided that they would ditch the 6-series and M6 name and go with the 8-series and M8 models (and in a move that many will never forgive them for, they renamed the awful, bulbous 5-series GT the 6-series GT). So the f92 M8 was born and gained a convertible and Gran Coupe model as before, this time underpinned with the new xDrive AWD system and the uprated 4.4 litre twin turbo V8 now producing 591hp and 750Nm. Carbon ceramic brakes were optional, and the coupe had a carbon roof panel as standard as a way to reduce the centre of gravity and aid handling. The overall weight actually dropped from the previous model too. BMW only sold the M8 Competition model in the UK though, which gets 620hp, a modified induction system and more rigid engine mounts. 

The M8 styling is much like the previous M6, with a long, low bodystyle though the rear end is particularly attractive with slim rear lights and a subtle lip spoiler. The xDrive system gives confidence to put that power down in all weather conditions, but is still able to become RWD only in the right mode. Though we don’t know many who would take an almost 2-tonne GT coupe on track. The M8 remains the flagship car in the BMW range.