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Sophisticated BMW M6 packs plenty of oomph

| Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

BMW achieves an unusual trifecta with the 2013 M6.

The car is more powerful, more fuel-efficient and more drivable than the previous generation of BMW's super coupe.

Most of the credit goes to an exemplary twin-turbo V-8, seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and electronic controls that make the sleek M6 one of the ultimate four-passenger street cars.

It's a welcome change. Recent models from BMW's M-line performance brand struggled to combine power and comfort.

Driving one was like riding a high-strung thoroughbred. There was a constant sense that things could spin out of control if your attention wavered for a moment.

The new M6 avoids that pitfall.

Prices for the new M6 coupe start at $106,100. All M6s come with a 560-horsepower twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 and a fast and smooth seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

I tested a well-equipped M6 that stickered at $118,950, including a $1,300 federal gas-guzzler tax. Options on my test car included premium audio, two-tone leather, 20-inch wheels, blind-spot and lane-departure alerts and navigation.

The M6 coupe competes with other powerful luxury coupes such as the 420-horsepower Audi RS5, 556-horsepower Cadillac CTS-V, 560-horsepower Jaguar XKR-S and 536-horsepower Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG.

The M6's price falls in the middle of that group. It's well above the RS5 and CTS-V, but thousands less than the Jag and Mercedes.

The M6's EPA fuel economy rating of 14 mpg in the city, 20 on the highway and 16 combined is also in the middle of the pack. Its performance ranks high, with a 0-60 mph time of 4.1 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

The 2013 M6's 4.4-liter V-8 produces considerably more horsepower and torque than the 5.0-liter V-10 in the preceding M6 — 560 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque vs. 500 horsepower and 383 pound-feet. The 2013 M6 is longer, wider and heavier than the old model, but also quicker to 60 mph and has a higher EPA fuel economy rating.

Sophisticated electronics let you adjust the suspension, steering, throttle response and limited-slip differential for anything from relaxing Sunday drives to maximum performance. The auto-stop system, which kills and restarts the engine to save fuel when the car stops moving, is by far the best and smoothest of any BMW.

The interior is opulent and modern. My test car featured two-tone leather seats and wood and aluminum trim.

The adjustable steering and suspension provide an excellent combination of comfort and control. Wind noise is minimal, but the grippy high-performance tires transmit a lot of road noise to the cabin on rough surfaces.

The 2013 M6 coupe is a major improvement from the previous model and a good competitor for other contemporary super coupes.

Its performance may not seem to justify a price nearly double that of the RS5 and CTS-V, but BMW's style and sophistication make it look like a bargain compared to the XKR-S and CL63.

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