BMW's new M series ticks all the boxes

BMW's 740LiA whispers luxury while its M6 is feistier,greener and even meaner

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 January, 2013, 6:19pm

Take a spin in BMW's latest M offering and you might step out of the cabin singing a festive ditty: "All I want for Christmas is a new M6."

Despite the familiar kidney grille and double lamps on the third-generation M6, produced by the company's motorsports division, there's no mistaking it for just another BMW. There's nothing tame or conservative about this feisty vehicle.

The gaping frontal air intakes and lower air dam are much larger than those of the previous M6, and the sides of the car's body are more finely toned. It's a sophisticated design makeover, giving the handsome coupe the flair but none of the ostentation of a thoroughbred sports car.

The M6 is one of two high-end models BMW has launched in Hong Kong this quarter, the other being the stately 7 Series saloon. I took both of them for a spin this month.

Other exterior features that speak of the M6's motorsports pedigree include the boot spoiler and quad exhausts. The long aluminium body with a low centre of gravity enhances its sporty profile.

Setting it all off to supreme effect is the lightweight black carbon-fibre roof. And as if you need reminding, there's no shortage of distinctive M badges dotted around the exterior.

In a novel feature worthy of a James Bond car, the BMW badge on the boot lid swivels open to reveal a rear-view camera - not a gun - when the car is geared into reverse. This feeds to the screen on the front console.

The cabin is an expensive-looking masterpiece of interior design. It screams sport, with slim, finely upholstered racing seats and leather trim set off with extensive use of carbon fibre panels. The design is capped off with signature tricolour M stitching and yet another M badge on the leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Under the bonnet is a twin-turbo 4.39-litre V8 engine that delivers 560hp and 680Nm of torque, helping the car shoot from zero to 100km/h in 4.2 seconds with a top speed limited at 250km/h. A seven-speed M double-clutch transmission and paddleshifts, combined with a choice of comfort, sport and sport-plus driving modes, make for a thrilling drive. The more responsive sports modes allow the driver to revel in the buzz of the exhaust note.

Making use of BMW's EfficientDynamics technology - intelligent energy management technologies to reduce fuel consumption and emissions - both the M6 and 7 Series come with brake-energy regeneration. Take your foot off the accelerator, or put the brake on, and a generator transforms the car's kinetic energy into electricity, using the power to charge the battery.

The auto stop/start function is another efficiency feature. Turn it on and the engine will shut down when you come to a standstill. When the traffic light turns green and the foot goes down, it bursts into life again without hesitation. You won't risk being booked for idling in these cars.

In all, BMW says fuel consumption of the M6, at 9.9 litres per 100km, is a 30 per cent improvement on the previous generation.

A novel touch with the M6 is the option to project the speedometer as a hologram onto the windscreen, although it looks as though it's hovering above the road ahead.

All this fun doesn't come cheap, with a starting price of over HK$1.95 million, including tax. A convertible M6 is also available.

Where the M6 is sporty, BMW went stately with the launch of the new executive 7 Series - the big daddy of Bimmers. This saloon is for those who value comfort over excitement, and those who prefer to do business in the back while the chauffeur plays pilot.

BMW says its Hong Kong customers prefer the longer version of the 7 Series, and at 5.21 metres, the 740LiA is about 14cm longer than the standard saloon. That's really noticeable in the rear seats, where there's a surprising amount of leg room, seemingly rivalling that of a Rolls-Royce Phantom.

The interior is elegant and tasteful, but naturally lacks the pizazz of the M6, which may in part account for the lower price. The 7 Series costs HK$1.69 million including tax.

The leather seats are plush and comfortable, and can be internally heated in winter. The cabin is finished off with leather, wood and velour carpets.

The 740LiA is powered by a 2.98-litre, six-cylinder engine that produces 320hp and 450Nm of torque.

Here's hoping that the green features incorporated in the 740LiA and M6 are a teaser for what can be expected when the German carmaker's new i range comes on the market next year.