Review and road test of the BMW M6 [F06/F12/F13] (2012 - 2018)
M TO THE POWER OF THREE
By Jonathan Crouch
BMW's third generation M6 was offered in three forms - two-door Coupe ['F13'-series], four-door Gran Coupe ['F06'] and Convertible ['F12']. Either way, it provides a real alternative to more exotically-badged super saloons and high performance luxury sporting coupes and convertibles, offering searing speed, sleek styling and an engine that has few peers.
2dr Coupe/4dr Gran Coupe/2dr Convertible
BMW's M division certainly knows how to build driver-focused sports cars. In 2012 though, it brought us the most powerful version of its M6 that it had ever made, sharing its twin turbo V8 'S63'-series engine with the uber-fast M5 Saloon. This third generation M6 followed on from the 1st generation 'E24'-series model of 1983 and the second generation 'E63'/'E64'-series model of 2005. For this M6 version, the Munich maker offered customers a Coupe (the 'F13'-series design), a Convertible ('F12') and a four-door Gran Coupe ['F06').
It's tempting to think of this model as nothing more than an M5 saloon in a more sporting suit. After all, it shares the same V8 twin-turbo engine, much of the same M Division technology and, as a result, pretty much the same performance figures. BMW though, thinks differently, pointing out that this car has a stiffer body and cleaves a cleaner path through the air. Whatever your perspective though, this third generation M6 looks to be a devastatingly effective piece of high performance engineering, the kind of car in which, for instance, you might drive to the Alps - but take in the Nurburgring on the way.
Initially, it was offered with 560hp. Then in 2014, a 'Competition Package' was made optionally available that boosted output to around 570hp and included a sportier exhaust system with black tips, stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, plus more direct steering. In 2016, this 'Competition Package' was upgraded to included a lot more engine power - 600hp. This M6 sold until 2018, then it was replaced shortly afterwards by the M8. If you must have the ultimate BMW from the 2012 to 2018 period though, then this may well be it.
What You Get
Some of BMW's proper M cars are only subtly different from their standard M Sport-trimmed model counterparts. This F06/F12/F13-series M6 though, looks properly performance-packaged. The four-door Gran Coupe variant was offered as a practical alternative to the more conventional body styles that made up the M6 range, a two-door Coupe and a Convertible. All get prominent flared wheel arches that draw the eye to this car's wider track. Plus characteristic M gills, aerodynamically-optimised exterior mirrors and exclusive 20-inch M light-alloy wheels. These neat touches emphasise distinctive looks also enhanced by another M signature, the Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic roof, in this case featuring a dynamic recess in its centre. At the rear, the same material's used for a diffuser that's flanked by twin exhaust tailpipes featuring a black chrome finish.
Take a seat up-front and you'll find yourself in a suitably high-end bespoke cabin with both the dashboard and the M Sport seats trimmed in full Merino leather. Ahead of you lies a grippy M leather steering wheel with multi-function buttons and gearshift paddles and a look echoing the double-spoke design of the M light alloy wheels. Though it, you view an M specific instrument cluster with proper red-needled analogue dials rather than the virtual digital ones fitted to mainstream models. Not that you'll need to be looking at them too often, thanks to the provision of a full-colour M Head-up display that projects key information right into your line of vision.
A driver-orientated cabin then - and one you'll need to take time to learn and appreciate. Initially daunting are all the little switches around the seven-speed M Double Clutch Transmission stick for tweaking steering, suspension and throttle feel, along with gear change timings. You won't be using these much either though, thanks to the provision of shortcut 'M1' and 'M2' steering wheel buttons that offer 'one-touch' access to your favourite settings. Dominating the top of the dash is the 10.2-inch iDrive infotainment screen with its usual access to stereo, sat nav, phone and media functions, plus BMW 'ConnectedDrive' connectivity. This is also the portal through which M6 drivers can access the varied functions of the downloadable BMW M Laptimer app which not only times you on-circuit but also delivers info on things like acceleration, steering angles, braking and G-forces.
Choose the Gran Coupe model and, in the rear, though it's not quite as spacious as it would be in a 5 or 7 Series saloon, it is very comfortable in the back, this four-door variant's extra wheelbase length doing just enough to make this car a realistic long distance conveyance for two fully-sized rear-seated adults. Finally, a word about luggage space. There's 460-litres on offer in both Coupe and Gran Coupe body styles, though that figure inevitably falls to just 300-litres if you opt for your M6 in Convertible guise.
What to Look For
There are a few known problems with F06/F12/F13-series generation M6s. Look out for a clunking / loose noise from rear on bad roads, caused by defective spring coils. BMW fitted upgraded spring coils from December 2012 production onwards, so this issue should only afflict earlier cars. Also look out for a wind rattle/fan rattle sound when car is under throttle. This is caused by a loose pipe clip on the induction system. Some owners have reported that the brake pedal becomes very soft after a few minutes of hard driving, lengthening stopping distances. This is down to limitations with the standard factory-fitted brakes and there's not that much you can do about it other than limiting really hard driving to just a few minutes - or finding a car that was originally fitted with the expensive optional ceramic brakes.
Some owners have reported an occasional message that comes up on the dash reading "Drivetrain error. Maximum power not available". This is down to a flaw in either the fuel pressure sensor or the high pressure fuel pump but this was fixed on later cars. We've also come across reports of F06/F12/F13-series owners experiencing dash messages reading 'Brake system failure'/'Tyre pressure sensor failure' or 'Driving Stability Control failure'. This references a brake pad sensor failure. Otherwise, it's just the usual things; check the alloys for scratchers. And insist on a fully stamped-up service history.
[based on a 2015 model M6 Coupe - 600hp - ex VAT] Parts prices for an M6 can be reasonable if you shop around. We trawled around the internet and found these: An air filter costs around £40. An oil filter is in the £35 bracket. A fuel filter is in the £48 bracket. A pollen filter is in the £16-£65 bracket. Proper Brembo front brake pads sit in the £575 bracket for a set. You can get cheaper brand pads of course; a set of Jurid rear brake pads costs only around £70 for instance. A rear outer tail lamp is around £300; an inner tail lamp is between £164-£195. A wiper blade can cost you anywhere between £10 and £50, depending on brand.
On the Road
Under the bonnet of this F06/F12/F13-series M6 beats the same TwinPower turbo 4.4-litre V8 used in the lesser 650i model. Here though, its output has been increased from 450 to 560bhp, enough to improve the rest to 62mph time by around half a second, the sprint taking just 5.2s. More important than that stat though is the 680Nm of torque on offer, hence the devastating overtaking potential of this car. And it can be even more responsive if you get a car whose original owner ticked the box for the optional 'Competition Package Power Upgrade' introduced in 2014. This included extra 'Sport'-tuning for the steering, the exhaust and the suspension and upped the power; initially to around 570hp, then from 2016 onwards, to 600bhp, while pushing torque up to 700Nm.
We also love the M Servotronic steering system, a particularly pleasant surprise given that an ordinary 6 Series model's standard set-up feels so vague. The other aspect of this car that sets it apart from many of its rivals is the Active M Differential. This electronically controlled multi-plate limited-slip differential links up with the DSC Dynamic Stability Control system and does its best to harness all that power and torque. Any impending loss of traction on one side of the car is identified at an early stage and anything between 0 and 100 per cent differential lock can be applied within a fraction of a second.
Ultimately, it boils down to an individual perspective on what a supercar should be. If for you, that definition must include an exotic badge, then you'll be dreaming of pricier models than this one wearing Porsche, Maserati or Aston Martin badges. Refine your buying criteria down to what the car in question must be capable of though and the case for this third generation M6 can begin to build.
It's certainly fast enough - and there's a competition-bred feel to the handling that rivals made in the 2012-2018 era from Mercedes, Jaguar and Audi can't quite match. A tougher question to answer lies in whether this car is worth more than BMW's mechanically almost-identical M5 saloon model. That's a question of personal preference of course. Coupe and Convertible style has always carried its own price premium and here, it's no different.
What's not up for debate is the way this car can make you feel, for its buyers delivering a perfect symbiosis of performance and exclusivity, dynamism and prestige. Or, to put it another way, a supercar they could tail-out slide on a trackday, then cruise across Europe in afterwards. These people will love this MK3 model M6, despite its high running costs and even higher price. There's a need, after all, to pay for the most consummate of pleasures. If you can afford to do that though, you'll find much to admire here. Powerful elegance - that's pitch-perfect.
BMW M6 [F06/F12/F13] (2012 - 2018) review by Jonathan Crouch