AUTO INDUSTRY NEWS

The new BMW M6

The new BMW M6 image

Text: / Photos: | posted January 26, 2005 00:00

BMW's in house M (motorsports) division recently unveiled the newest member of its stable – the BMW M6. Essentially a transformed BMW 6-Series 2+2 coupe, the M6 represents what the folks in Munich can do with a mix of sports car performance and passenger car luxury.

Under the hood

Sporting a five-liter V10 engine found in its M5 brethren, the BMW M6 has the ability to perform to supercar standards. The V10 puts out 507bhp, 383lbs-ft. torque and engine speeds beyond the 8,000 rpm limit. The two five-cylinder banks in the V10 are arranged at an angle of 90 degrees in order to reduce vibration and increase motoring comfort offered by full mass compensation on the crankdrive. BMW's proprietary variable dual-VANOS camshaft control ensures an optimum cylinder charge cycle in the interest of extremely fast valve timing. On the road this means even more performance, an improved torque curve, optimum responsiveness, lower fuel consumption, and emissions reduced to a minimum. Also, each cylinder comes with its own electronically controlled throttle butterfly for each row of cylinders.

A particular highlight of the M6's engine control unit (ECU) is its ionic current technology, which detects any tendency of the engine to knock or misfire. This system is able to sense any knock tendencies via the spark plug in each cylinder, checking the correct ignition setting and recognizing any tendency to misfire and thus allowing the engine to run as closely as possible to its theoretical limits, developing optimum power and performance in the process. As a result the spark plug serves as an actuator for the ignition and as a sensor observing the combustion process.

Drive like an F1 racer

The M6 also comes with a unique seven-speed sequential manual gearbox (SMG) that allows the driver to shift gears using paddles behind the steering wheel, much like in a Formula One car. But the difference between the M6's SMG and the six-speed SMG on the M3 and the M5 is that the former has a DriveLogic feature, in which the SMG on the offers the driver a total of 11 gearshift options allowing him to individually adjust the gearshift characteristics of the SMG transmission to his personal style of motoring.

Six of these driving programs come in the sequential manual function
(S-mode), ranging from smooth mode to supersport mode. Driving in the S-mode, the driver shifts all gears manually. But thanks to the DriveLogic's launch con¬trol function, the M6's SMG shifts gears automatically shortly before the engine reaches its maximum speed, avoiding shift shock and ensuring seamless transition.

Custom suspension

The M6 comes with adjustable electronic damper control (EDC), an electronically controlled suspension system that allows the driver to tailor the coupe's chassis and suspension to his or her driving characteristics, from firm and sporting all the way to comfortable and smooth. This one can do via three programs (comfort, normal and sports) selected via the MDrive button in the steering wheel or the push button next to the SMG shift lever. For all practical purposes, therefore, the driver is able to convert his BMW M6 at the touch of a button into a thoroughbred driving machine, a sports car for everyday use and a luxury coupe for grand touring in grand style.

EDC ensures ongoing, infinite control of electronic damper forces over a very wide range of different settings. In the normal program damper forces are automatically adjusted as required to specific driving conditions, the system providing an optimum combination of motoring comfort and driving safety.

The driver then has the option to pre-select the comfort or sports programs, varying damper characteristics accordingly. In the sports mode the chassis and suspension respond to bumps on the road and uneven surfaces by building up higher damper forces to reduce body motion and give the M6 a much firmer grip on the road. In the comfort mode, by contrast, EDC reduces damper forces in the interest of a higher level of motoring comfort. In bends, when applying the brakes and when accelerating, higher damper forces enhance driving safety in all modes, improving body sway and dive behavior of the M6 accordingly. A further benefit is the consistent maintenance of good vibration characteristics regardless of the load the car is carrying throughout its complete lifecycle.

From 100-0 kph, safely

With half a grand of power and more than 300 lbs. ft. under the hood, the M6 races to an astonishing 0–100 kilometers per hour (kph) acceleration time of 4.6 seconds and the M6 is capable of reaching 250 km/h. But all those power figures are for naught if the coupe is not able to perform from 100-0 kph.

BMW took this need to heart and installed with extra-large high-performance brakes featuring weight-optimized compound brake discs carried over directly from BMW's Motorsports. Optimum arrangement and configuration of the holes drilled into the brake discs ensure excellent stopping power both in the dry and under wet conditions.

Brake disc dimensions are 14.72 x 1.42 inches at the front and 14.57 x 0.94 inches at the rear. Made of aluminum, the double-piston swing calipers are optimized for low weight and enhanced stiffness, significantly reducing unsprung weight and contribute accordingly to the car's supreme agility, safety and comfort on the road. As a result, the BMW M6 offers stopping distances otherwise seen only in sports cars, coming to a halt from 100 km/h within 118 feet and from 200 km/h within less than 459 feet.

With the 6-Series already acknowledged in Europe and the USA as a strikingly beautiful car, the M6 enhances this impression to an even higher standard, special design features making this unique coupé look even more powerful and dynamic, while remaining discreet and unpretentious all the same.

BMW provided 19-inch forged aluminum wheels developed especially for the M6, which are extremely light and provide a very good view of the large brake discs. Compared with comparable wheels, the weight saving is 1.8 kilos per wheel.

The M6's rear air dam carries a diffuser to provide even airflow through the exterior and adds an even more sporting look to the car. In fact the particular design of the diffuser improves the flow of air along the underfloor and reducing lift forces. The four tailpipes on the twin-chamber exhaust system bordering the diffuser opening in pairs on either side distinguishes the M6 from other BMW cars.

But the features of interest with regard's to the M6's exterior are the roof and both bumpers, al made out of a carbon fiber/plastic resin to reduce weight. With the weight of the roof being reduced by 50 percent versus a conventional steel structure right at the "top" where it really counts, the car's center of gravity is lowered accordingly. The benefit for the occupants is higher speed in bends and further reduction of body dive and sway.

A further advantage provided by the carbon roof is the option to use a particularly light and thin rear window. And unlike the stock 6-Series coupe, the roof as a whole is not welded, but rather bonded, on to the body of the car, while still retaining full body stiffness and safety, with the same noise and temperature management as on the 6-Series cars.