Test Drive: 2012 BMW M6 Convertible

??BMW M6 Convertible for 2012: An elegant performer?

2012 BMW M6When BMW introduced their all-new third generation premium 650i convertible it was instantly recognized as an open-air dream machine. The German luxury drop top was a stunner in the looks department, and was certainly no slouch in the performance category either. The 2012 BMW 650i convertible is longer, lower and wider than its predecessor, and without question has become ever more elegant and beautiful as time progresses.

?Enter the BMW performance division?s execution of the 650i Convertible – the venerable M6, which returns to the BMW stable following a two-year hiatus, displaying a persona that?s more athletic, focused, luxurious and more efficient than ever before. Both the third generation M6 Coupe and Convertible accommodate four. The BMW?M6 Convertible is the first to come to market as a 2012 model, which starts at $113,995. The M6 Coupe will debut later as a 2013 model with a beginning sticker of $106,995 – both prices include the $895 destination charge.

2012 BMW M6 Side With Top Down?In terms of their exterior design, the new M6s display lines that are sporty and at the same time elegant, with appealing classical and balanced proportions. The styling cues are indicative of details that are influenced directly by technical considerations such as cooling requirements, chassis aerodynamics and physical geometry, further highlighting the vehicle?s performance capabilities.

2012 BMW M6 - Front?Honeycombed air intakes are wide and are flanked by the gracefully contoured headlamp units that adorn the smooth surfaces of the front end, which also features a newly designed twin-kidney grille that now wears an M6 badge paying tribute to the first generation M6. The new grille is made up of black, twin-paired vertical slats that are influenced by the characteristic double-spoke design of the M division light alloy wheels. The track has been increased 1.2-inches over the two cars? respective 6 Series stablemates, emphasized by the powerfully flared front wheel well arches that are flush with the wheels. The air intakes and race-inspired flaps reflect a three dimensional form designed to control airflow to the outer air intakes that contribute to the cars? dynamic aura of forward motion. The standard Adaptive Xenon headlights, with their bright white, leveled-off Corona rings are topped by an LED accent light. Adaptive LED lights are optionally available.

In profile, the bold athletic nature of the M models is clearly visible with the front fenders featuring traditional M gills sporting a wide chrome border and indicator bars that bear the M logo. Sculpted creases of the M side skirts sweep upward toward the rear, drawing the eye to the standard two-tone-finished, 19-inch forged M light alloy wheels with 7-double-spokes.

2012 BMW M6 - WheelsThe rear is finished off by twin dual exhaust outlets. and a fully integrated rear decklid spoiler that joins the L-shaped LED taillamps. The M6 Convertible is not simply a Coupe sans top. Each vehicle was designed and engineered separately and individually to serve its intended purpose in the most efficient manner possible.

BMW M6 Convertible TopThe Convertible?s layered retractable cloth soft top opens electrically at the touch of a switch in 19 seconds and closes in 24 seconds including window lowering and raising. The top is operational in either direction while underway at speeds up to 25 mph. The new top also allows for improved trunk storage with the top either stowed or raised.? Wind buffeting is minimal even with the top and windows down, and there is a windscreen that reduces the wind?s effects for rear seat passengers.

BMW M6 InteriorThe interior is driver oriented with functional controls angled toward the driver, and materials that are softer and more inviting. Nappa leather wrapping is standard on the sport steering wheel finished with red and blue stitching, and there is now a 10.2-inch flat screen display for navigation and vehicle function information. Gauges and instrumentation features Black Panel Technology. Starting the engine brings the onboard information and check control light to life, and once the vehicle is running, prompts appear from the navigation and active driver assistance systems between the dials, including navigation arrows and various system warnings. Instrumentation illumination changes from white to classic BMW amber at night. Also featured is a new 80GB hard drive as well as a new and improved hard-drive-based Navigation system with a fully browse-capable Electronic Driver?s Manual. 12 GB storage is reserved for the entertainment server, which is capable of ripping music from the CD/DVD reader, or of transferring music or media images through the USB port. HD radio comes as standard fare.

BMW M6 EngineM power is generated by a state-of-the-art 4.4-liter, DOHC, 32-valve V8 with M TwinPower turbo technology, High Precision Direct Injection and Double-VANOS steplessly variable valve timing. The engine is positioned up front in a longitudinal?orientation and pumps out an impressive 560 horsepower at 6,000 rpm along with 500 pound feet in a range from 1,600 to 5,750 rpm.

Motive energy reaches the rear wheels through an electronically controlled 7-speed M Double Clutch automatic with Drivelogic and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

My test BMW M6 Black topped Convertible wore a rich Singapore Grey metallic exterior coat and featured a striking Black on Black Marino leather interior highlighted by carbon fiber trim accents on the dash, doors, and console. The base sticker was set at $113,100. with the final tally reaching $122,095 after adding the Driver Assistance Package, Executive Package, Gas Guzzler Tax and Destination charge.

SUMMARY: I?ve long held that the BMW 650i Convertible might well be one of the most beautiful vehicles to come from Bavaria ? at least in modern times (I was a big fan of the Z8, but alas, that has been out of production for years). The new M6 Convertible raises the bar even higher in all regards.

The car is a wonder to behold, but better yet, it is exhilarating to drive ? especially with the top stowed as it was meant to be, with wind and sun in your face and hair. There?s nothing like a scalp massage provided at speed by Mother Nature.

Acceleration is available instantly on demand, with steering immediately responsive, and the ride quality, though extremely stable and flat, is not punishing at all ? that is, unless you want it to be by selecting Sport+ through the Dynamic Damping Control ? other settings are: Normal and Comfort. The M drive system in the new M6 allows the driver to adjust no fewer than six parameters including: the engine management, the response of the Servotronic steering system, the M DCT shift program, the DSC mode, the DDC responses and the Head Up Display information. Settings may be configured in virtually any combination throuth the iDrive menu or by using the M Drive select buttons??????????? on the center console. Experimentation and practice will perfect operational efficiency.

There are loads of Driver Assistance features that are optionally available to further enhance both one?s driving pleasure and prowess. Optional Integral Active Steering, incorporates four-wheel steering for more precise directional control.

The base price of the M Coupe with all the same features, will run $7,000 less than that of the Convertible when it goes on sale as a 2013 vehicle if you are able to live without the open air motoring experience that the Convertible provides. I personally vote for open-air motoring.

SPECIFICATIONS: BMW M6 Convertible-?12

Base Price: $113,100
Price as Tested: $122,095
Engine Type and Size: 4.4-liter, DOHC, 32-valve V8 with M TwinPower turbo technology, High Precision Direct Injection and Double-VANOS steplessly variable valve timing
Horsepower (bhp): 560 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 500 @ 1,600-5,750 rpm
Transmission: Electronically controlled 7-speed M Double Clutch automatic with Drivelogic and paddle shifters
Drive Train: Longitudinally mounted front engine / Rear-wheel drive
Suspension: Front ? Double wishbone with Sport Package tuning and Adaptive Damping.

Rear ? Multi-link with Sport Package Tuning and Adaptive Damping

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel vented discs with ABS, DBC and DSC with Brake Fade Compensation, Start- off Assistant, Brake Drying, and Brake Stand-by features with DTC
Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sport 265/40 ZR19 102Y front / 295/35 ZR19 104Y rear mounted on 7-slotted spoke alloy wheels (9.5×19 front / 10.5×19 rear) with painted sub-surface
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Length Overall: 193.0 inches
Width: 74.8 inches
Height: 53.9 inches – unloaded
Curb Weight: 4,508 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 21.1 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 14 mpg city / 20 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.33
0 – 60 mph: 4.2 seconds – Top Speed electronically limited to 155 mph

More from Our Auto Expert