The Most Terrifying Car I've Ever Driven
As we welcome the BMW 8 series in all of it's different shapes and sizes over the coming months, I thought I'd reflect on it's predecessor.
I thought I'd angle for a change of pace today, it's Formula 1 off-season so to be honest there's going to be less and less to talk about over the coming few months in the motor sport world. Unless Kimi Raikkonen starts posting absolute gold on Instagram (what am I saying, Kimi always posts gold on Kimicam or even Kimigram).
In case you've been living under a rock, or lost your license, or been trying to get healthy and walking everywhere (therefore ignoring motor vehicles at all costs), BMW has been releasing cars. BMW has been releasing a lot of cars over the past year. So many cars that the poor workers in the factory have got to be counting the minutes now until the Christmas shut down (do they have those in Germany?). Anyway, there's a car that's been stirring a bit of interest of late. It's already been released in the US and Europe and it's not too long off it's March release month in Australia. The replacement of the now defunct BMW 6 series, the BMW 8 series. But here's the thing, I'm Australian and I have to wait another 4 months to drive that car. So I thought I'd do some historical reflection on it's predecessor, and why that car on multiple occasions almost took my life.
The BMW 6 series, more specifically the M6, was by no means meant to be a BMW flagship vehicle when the most recent iteration was released around 2012. And it was! It looked fairly striking and had featured multiple times in films and TV as a result not just in its most recent iteration but in all of them. I didn't first get into the drivers seat of an M6 until two years later. I'd also expected by 2014 that any teething issues they'd experienced with the first iteration of that run would have been fairly well sorted out. Oh, how wrong I was.
So most BMW fans totally disagree with me when I say that vehicle is ridiculous, and not in a good way. It was ridiculous in the way that it would almost be impossible to use as a daily driver, like totally impossible. There's a good reason for this, one that taught BMW a few lessons with the subsequent M3, M4 and later the M2. All cars which are personal favourites of mine. The M6 totally lacked balance.
Allow me to digress. In fact I won't just digress, let me tech spec digress, the worst kind of digressing. But trust me when I say it's leading to a punchline. The BMW M6 was 2 tonne, even in it's coupe iteration. If you bought it in a convertible it was even heavier. This was presumably a combination of engine and body-work. However the weight didn't ruin the car, it was a large part of it but it wasn't the perpetrator. Oh no, it was the 4.4L twin turbocharged BMW V8 engine that ripped that cars soul out.
Here's the thing, if you buy a Ferrari, or an Aston Martin or even a Jaguar? You know weight distribution is at the forefront of mind. I mean the Ferrari is mid-engine and the Aston and Jaguar are both feather weighted cars. The BMW though was not, it was (as mentioned above) 2 tonne and most of that weight was at the front of the car. In the 2010s smart boffins have come up with a solution for this, one that has allowed them to make stupidly fast SUVs like the Range Rover Sport SVR or the X5M, it's called all wheel drive. BMW though thought they knew better. The M6 was a rear wheel drive vehicle. So you've got a 2 tonne car that's weight portioned to the front, a massive thumping twin turbo V8 engine and all of the drive power coming from the rear. Can you guess what happened as a result?
Yeahp, wheel spin, not the kind that makes you giddy when drifting a BMW M2. It was the kind where you touch the throttle off the lights at an intersection and the next thing you know your car is impounded and you're in jail. Much worse still the time that sticks in my memory with that car is a fairly wet night on the roads driving home from a restaurant launch. It was literally 3km home, only a couple of sets of lights. Yet when I was taking a right hand turn into my street off a 2 lane road at about 10kmph I still lost traction and almost turned the BMW bodywork into a weird Toyota Corolla Frankenstein bodywork.
You cannot do that to a car. You just can't, wheel spin and torque is amazing but only if it's able to be controlled. You get in a car where it's impossible to control that spin and you've got no hope. Jeremy Clarkson himself proved that in the M6 gran couple on that other show that should not be named in Australia. That M6 might I add ended up totally ruined in a workshop somewhere in Melbourne because of how much dust was pushed up into the rear axles by the stupid lack of grip.
With that in mind though BMW this year have released another little known car called the M5, which they put all wheel drive in. That car has got to be close to if not is my car of the year. They have also had the smarts to put the same system in the BMW 8 series, most specifically the well powered M850i. A car which I can honestly see being my favourite car of the year next year.
Anyway, all I can do now (with BMW having learned from the mistakes of the past) is let bygones be bygones and look forward to enjoying the 8 series. A car which is shaping up to be one of the greatest grand touring vehicles that BMW have ever released.