BMW M6 (F06/F12/F13) | PH Used Buying Guide

Before the current M8, the M6 was the swankiest way to enjoy 600hp in a swept-back Bavarian

By Tony Middlehurst / Sunday, March 21, 2021 / Loading comments

Key considerations

  • Available from £26,000
  • 4.4-litre V8 petrol twin-turbo, rear-wheel drive
  • Coupe, cabrio or 4-door Gran Coupe
  • Big, but small-grille stylish
  • 552-600hp engines made light work of the bulk
  • Some oil starvation issues
  • M8 replacement starts at £124,000…

Search for a used BMW M6 here

OVERVIEW

If you don't count the big road that, on a good day at any rate, facililtates travel up north in the UK, there have been three M6s. We’re talking about BMW M6s.

Actually, British folk might say there have only been two M6s, discounting the first E24 version of 1983 because here it was called the M635CSi. In the days before BMW's naming culture of 'M' followed by a single number had taken such a huge grip, it was deemed more important to remind people that there was a barrel-chested 3.5 litre straight six under the bonnet.

282hp might not seem like much now but, thanks to lightweight body panels offsetting big panes of glass to keep the weight down to 1,500kg, it was power enough for a dab hand with the Getrag five-speed manual to razz an M635CSi/M6 through the 0-60 in the mid-sixes, which was rapid for the mid-1980s. The usual rose-tinted specs effect mean that you'll need £40-£50k for an unrestored E24 M6 today. If you're unlucky with the bodywork you could easily spend at least that much again to get it pristine. These high values are quite ironic as BMW struggled to shift these cars in period, when the 6 Series coupe was seen as a bit golf club. Fewer than 1,000 M6s a year found homes over its six-year run, so it wasn't all that surprising to see BMW putting a hold on the M6 project when the E24 finished in 1989.

What was surprising was the length of the hold until the next M6 arrived, which turned out to be sixteen years. When the E63 did eventually come out in 2005 there was an open-top E64 convertible to go with it, but even the two-second quicker 0-60 time made possible by the use of the E60 M5 saloon's 500hp V10 engine wasn't enough to fully distract attention away from the E series M6's flaws. It didn't only look heavy, especially from the rear, it really was heavy in spite of the liberal use of thermoplastic and light alloy for many body panels and the carbon fibre reinforced plastic roof for the coupe that provided a 50 percent weight saving over steel. The E63 M6 coupe's figure of 1,785kg – nearly three hundredweight up on the E24 – was as much a reflection of big changes in equipment and safety expectations as anything. The head-scratchingly hefty weight of 2,005kg for the cloth-roofed convertible was harder to fathom.

Most potential buyers simply didn't bother to fathom it. When E63/64 M6 production ended in mid-2010, just 9,000 coupes and 5,000 convertibles had been sold. At least this time around, M6 fans only had to wait two years for the next one, based on the F10 M5 saloon. Weight was up once more to 1,925kg for the F13 coupe and 2,055kg for the F12 Cabriolet, with a handsome new F06 Gran Coupe addition sitting between them at 1,950kg.

As with the first transition from the gen-one to the gen-two M6, not only the engine but the whole engine format was new. Instead of a normally aspirated big-incher you got BMW’s smaller S63 4.4-litre V8 boosted by the fuel-efficient torque-enrichment of twin-turbocharging. Maximum power of 552hp wasn't delivered until 6,000rpm, but peak torque came in 4,500 revs before that and continued right through to 5,750rpm, providing major lunge in any of the twin-clutch auto's seven gears.

The new drivetrain's extra refinement and useability combined beautifully with the M6's lavish, well-crafted cabin to create a swish mega-tourer or a sonically assertive bruiser. If you wanted to play, you could mix and match any combo from a selection of three steering settings, three adaptive damper settings and three drivetrain settings (Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus) to make the most of BMW's customary rear-wheel drive design.

You had to pay for it, mind. At a time when you could buy a 911 Carrera S PDK for £81,000, the near-£94,000 price tag of the M6 was seen as high. It was getting on for £20,000 more than the M5 saloon, which was pretty much identical under the skin. The price would get higher still in 2014 when 567hp Competition Pack versions of all three body styles came out as part of an LCI (Life Cycle Impulse) refresh. Even so, the £7,300 add-on for the Comp Pack was considered to be money well spent. Its sporty exhaust and remap helped to widen the peak torque band to 4,500rpm, trim the 0-62 time to 4.1 secs and delimit it as standard to 190mph (an M-driver option for other M6s). Chassis-wise the 10mm lower-riding Comps had stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, while the steering, stability control programme and limited slip M-differential were all given a CP-bespoke reset.

In 2015 there was a small power lift in regular M6s to 560hp and a bigger hike in the Comp Pack engines to 592hp, reducing the 0-62 time to 3.9 secs. At this time a six-speed manual option was added for the US market only. That car needed 4.4 secs for the 0-62 versus 4.2 for the auto.

For 2017, Comp Pack coupe and Gran Coupe power outputs went up yet again to 600hp, the CP Cabrio following suit in 2018. That was the high water mark of the F-spec M6 as the entire 6 Series range, including the M6, was replaced in the 2019 model year by the 8 Series. M6 production actually ceased in 2017 but the cars continued to be sold right through until 2019.

Stylistically and conceptually the F13 M6's most obvious rival was the Mercedes-AMG S63, which at £125,000 managed to make the BMW seem cheap. The £182,000 6.0 V12-powered S65 made it look like a complete giveaway. It was all relative of course. At getting on for £94,000 in 2012 you couldn't categorise the new M6 as anything other than an indulgence. Nine years on, however, the used landscape is very different. Now you can buy an F13 M6 coupe for as little as £26,000, or a Competition Pack car for an equally chin-stroking £32,000. As indulgences go, these sound like the sort you should be indulging yourself in.

SPECIFICATION | BMW M6 F13 COUPE

(plus figures for F12 Convertible*, F06 Grand Coupe** and 592hp Comp Pack***)

Engine: 4,395cc V8 32v twin turbocharged
Transmission: 7-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): [email protected],000-7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): [email protected],500-5,750rpm
0-62mph: 4.2 secs (* and ** 4.3 secs, *** 3.9 secs)
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Weight: 1,925kg (* 2,055kg, ** 1,950kg)
MPG (official combined): 28.5
CO2: 232g/km
Wheels: 9.5 x 19in (f), 10.5 x 19 (r)
Tyres: 265/40 (f), 295/35 (r)
On sale: 2012 – 2018
Price new: £94,000
Price now: from £26,000

Note for reference: car weight and power data is hard to pin down with absolute certainty. For consistency, we use the same source for all our guides. We hope the data we use is right more often than it’s wrong. Our advice is to treat it as relative rather than definitive. 


ENGINE & GEARBOX

The performance even on the lower-powered S63 M6s was seriously impressive, accompanied by a moustache-bristling roar between 6,000 and 7,000rpm. Aftermarket exhausts would enliven the atmosphere at lower revs but at pretty much any revs the 4.4 biturbo would get you down the road in a thrillingly brisk fashion.

Some V10 owners had issues with their engines and there have been blowups on the V8s too. It was a ‘hot vee’ turbo with the blowers sitting between the two cylinder banks, conferring usefully sharper throttle response. The main trouble spot on earlier (pre-LCI) engines was oil starvation caused by faulty oil pumps. Paint on the metal sump gaskets was also known to react with the oil causing a buildup of paint flakes in the pan. If the engine seized and was out of warranty you could be looking at a bill of well over £15k.

These engines might ask for a litre of new oil every 1,500-2,000 miles, with BMW itself saying that every 1,000 miles is within tolerance. Using oil isn’t necessarily a worry in itself, and your car might well go for 6-7,000 miles before demanding a top up. Spun rod bearings and failed injectors have also been mentioned on forums. Firms like Redish Motorsport and others will offer preventative maintenance for both. Replacement Bosch injectors can be picked up for £60 a go but the bearing fix is more labour-intensive. The message for S63 M6 shoppers is to at least consider investing in a warranty.

Anyone coming from an SMG transmission in earlier BMWs would be glad to see the improvements brought about in the gen-three M6’s superb DCT transmission. Gearchanges were predictably immediate in non-auto mode (paddleshift, or push the stick forward for downshifts, pull back for upshifts) but leaving it in auto was no less satisfying, with no delayed downshifts and none of the SMG’s part-throttle lurching. All this is good news for the owner who wanted the full package of the M6 experience, ie the grand touring side as well as the baws-oot side. 

Official fuel consumption is in the 27-28mpg range depending on the model but you should expect a real-world figure of up to 10mpg worse than that. You always have to pay to play on cars like the M6 but servicing costs might not be as bad as you think. One owner put the total servicing bill for the 70,000 miles he’d covered from new in his 2015 M6 coupe at £2,200. That didn’t cover brake consumables but it did include two oil service 2s, one oil service 1, two lots of brake fluid, three MOTs and two vehicle checks.

CHASSIS

The M6 is a big car in any of its three variations, but the rear-wheel drive format meant it wasn’t averse to rowdy driving if that was your thing. Grip was strong but the back end could be safely poked adrift at the stamp of a throttle. The default was safe understeer, with the considerably lighter 911 being much more adept at altering its line mid-corner.

Despite its extra stiffening, and because of the weight added by that stiffening and by the hood-raising motors, the M6 convertible was a wobbly thing. The coupe’s body was comparatively well controlled although still not perfect. You could still feel (and sometimes see on the steering column) the effect of a big hit through the suspension.

As noted earlier there were three suspension modes to go with the same number of engine and stab control modes, but once owners had cycled through the novelty of all 27 combinations (apologies if the maths on that are wrong) they usually ended up putting all three into Comfort on the public roads. The Active M Differential passed torque to whichever back tyre was having the least trouble getting purchase but the traction control light still saw plenty of action on greasy roads. This iteration of M6 was given hydraulic rather than electro-mechanical steering. For a 1.9 tonne car there’s decent feedback, although the wheel can feel quite heavy in Sport Plus mode.

M6s started off with 19-inch seven double-spoke forged alloys with 20-inch five double-spokers as an option. The 20s became standard on later Comp Pack cars. Also on the options list were M Carbon Ceramic Brakes (CCB) which had gold rather than blue calipers. Carbon brakes are never cheap for any car. A retrofit brake kit for the M6 will be around £10,000. The standard steel brakes will be a tenth of that. Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres are well liked in the M6 community, but whichever tyres you chose, road noise in the cabin was quite high.

BODYWORK

You may have noticed the fire that is currently raging about BMW's new front end look. Until that starts to find admirers, the old-style M6 will continue to visually impress with its petite kidney grille and the 'pouncing' stance created by the bigger arches covering 1.2-inch wider tracks front and rear. There were very small styling tweaks to the front end in the 2015 LCI refresh but otherwise there was a pleasing constancy to the look of the F series M6 right through its 7-year cycle.

The Gran Coupe is surely one of the stealthiest and best-looking big four-doors on the road, BMW doing a brilliant job of extending the coupe bodystyle without unbalancing it. Given the small weight penalty over the coupe, the GC was an interesting and versatile M6 choice, assuming you got on with the looks – and why wouldn't you? 

The ‘double-bubble’ carbon roof on both hardtop cars gave them a mark of distinction and lowered their centres of gravity. The Convertible’s roof was the regular 6 Series item. Available in black, beige or anthracite silver fleck, it could be deployed at up to 25mph and took 19 seconds to cycle. Soft-close doors were another nice M6 touch.

INTERIOR

The driving position was low – in fact, we think it may have been the lowest of any M car – in the multi-adjustable, grippy and lightweight M Sport seats that European cars had as standard. They came with pneumatic lumbar adjustment and manually adjustable under-thigh support. the driver very much at the focus point of the angled instruments and controls. Even very lanky types could find little to complain about in terms of the amount of head and legroom in the coupe. 

The Gran Coupe’s ‘4+1’ seating layout worked well enough as long as you weren’t the ‘1’ straddling the transmission tunnel with your crotch inadvertently operating the rear climate zone controls. Head and legroom for the rear passengers would depend on how big they were: family motorists should try before they buy.

For regular big-trip drivers, the highish level of tyre noise mentioned earlier was a definite demerit but you could always overcome that by cranking up the Bang & Olufsen sound system that came with the Executive pack. BMW’s excellent head-up display was standard on the M6. Actually, quite a few features that were options on the M5 were standard on the M6, like the soft-close doors and the adaptive LED lights. The M6 also had extended Merino leather, BMW Professional Navigation and, joy of joys, two nicely integrated cupholders ahead of the gear selector. There were none in the previous V10. You also got plenty of storage in the wide centre console.

PH VERDICT

We're not going to get into the 'is it a real M car' debate here, other than to say a) that the final edge of M-ness than the F13 arguably lacked was well compensated for by the kind of civility and everyday useability that was more relevant to buyers of large coupes; and b) the M6 was, in the eyes of those who knew what they were talking about, a better all round drive than the M5. And you still got four seats. Or four proper seats in the Gran Coupe.

Once again, heavy depreciation is your friend. BMW only stopped making the M6 a couple of years ago. Prices for the M8 replacement start at £124k, and that’s before you start tacking on the extras. Knock £100,000 off that and you could be in an M6. Interesting, no?

In terms of straight line performance the Comp Pack cars in particular are right up there with the brutal Mercedes AMG S63, and only 30hp or so behind Odin’s car, the 6.0 V12 S65. You'll struggle to find a 2014 S63 for less than £40k, while most S65s of that vintage will be nearer to £50k. The M6 Comp entry point is £32-£35k. What’s the catch? Well, you probably wouldn't want a rear-drive M6 if it's going to be your daily driver and the weather in your area includes snow, but other than that, fill your boots. 

The most affordable S63 M6 in PH Classifieds at the time of writing was this nicely worn-in 2013 Convertible with 20in wheels and 58,000 miles. The price of £27,000 reflects the mileage and the fact that the ragtops weren’t the best choice for enthusiastic motoring. You’ll find quite a few Gran Coupes in the higher M6 price echelons, which may reflect the admiration many feel for this body shape and the extra practicality it provides. Here’s a 2015 (LCI) 592hp Comp Pack GC in Black Sapphire with a sports exhaust, 20in wheels and a raft of carbon fibre. It’s got 48,000 miles and a full service history and a tempting price tag of £33,850. Finally, if you’re a straight coupe type looking for a late low mileage example, what about this one-owner 2017 14,000-mile specimen in Silverstone, now being privately sold by that owner for £38,250. Judging by the spotless garage, it’s been fastidiously looked after.


Search for a used BMW M6 here

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