Cigar Aficionado

Good things are worth waiting for. Case in point: the BMW M6, which recently returned after a painfully long, two-year absence. It’s not only one of the most striking vehicles ever to wear the vaunted M badge, but also the most powerful.

We’re of the firm belief that cabriolets should be driven al fresco under all but the most severe driving conditions, so with the last of the leaves falling to the ground and the weather sliding back into the 50s, we headed out for a day’s meander through Michigan lake country, hoping to take in one of the last nice days before winter set in—and looking for anyone willing to test the mettle of the M6.

That didn’t take long, with a Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG pulling up alongside us on a straight stretch of recently paved four-lane asphalt. Lining up at the light we made sure to set suspension and steering to Sport Plus mode and dial back the stability control. As the light turned green we slammed the throttle, felt the rear wheels hook up with the pavement and experienced the pressure of the raw G-forces. It was over almost as soon as it began, well, 4.3 seconds later, to be precise, the M6 Convertible requiring just a tenth of a second more than the coupe to hit 60.

The heart of this demon is a 4.4-liter V-8 that uses BMW’s TwinPower turbos to blast out a blistering 560 horsepower and 500 foot-pounds. That’s a full 10 percent more hp and 30 percent more torque than the prior generation M6 V-10 engine. What’s all the more amazing is that the new model gains about 30 percent better mileage. Another surprise was BMW’s decision to abandon a manual transmission, instead opting for a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that can be driven in automatic mode or shifted manually with the steering wheel-mounted paddles. Purists may gripe but we’ll grudgingly admit we’ve never shifted so quickly—or smoothly.

And that’s one of the joys of driving a BMW M. Off the line, the new M6, starting at about $110,000, has the bona fides of a classic muscle car, but the real pleasure is taking it out on back country roads, feeling it nimbly maneuver around the toughest corners and switchbacks. It’s enough to make the rankest amateur feel like a pro.

Of course, it helps that the new M Drive system can adjust six different key performance parameters: the engine management, the response of the Servotronic steering system, the M DCT shift program, the DSC mode, the responses of DDC and even the information in the Head-Up Display. The desired settings can be configured in any combination via the iDrive menu or by using the M Drive select buttons on the center console.

For those who prefer something more solid over their head, BMW has followed the launch of the M6 Convertible with the otherwise identical M6 coupe. Decisions, decisions. We’re just glad to have the M6 back in the BMW lineup.