New BMW M6 pushes tech for speed, economy

BMW released photos and specifications about its new M6 today, the high-performance version of its 6 series. The new car pushes the automotive technology envelope.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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According to its specs, the new BMW M6 will hit 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, yet get an average of 24 mpg.

That fuel economy number comes from the European Combined Test Cycle, and will probably be somewhat less under the U.S. EPA test. But those numbers illustrate what technology can do for a sport car, especially considering the M6 weighs in at over 4,000 pounds.

The secret to the M6's success is a 4.4-liter V-8 with two twin scroll turbochargers. BMW designed an exhaust manifold that ducts the exhaust gases from two cylinders on opposite combustion phases into one outlet. That arrangement creates near constant pressure to spin the turbos.

2013 BMW M6 coupe preview (photos)

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Precision fuel delivery comes through BMW's direct-injection and Double-VANOS infinitely variable valve technologies. As such, the car can minimize fuel use under normal driving conditions, such as freeway cruising, and instantly give the engine what it needs when the driver steps into it.

BMW includes its idle-stop technology on the M6, which shuts down the engine completely at traffic stops. And the M6's standard seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox gets all the efficiency of a manual transmission, while letting the driver leave it in automatic mode for everyday driving.

For its M cars, BMW has not been shy about using technology, and the new M6 showcases the company's latest cutting-edge stuff. For example, FlexRay buses, first seen in the BMW X5 M, form a data net for sensors and suspension control systems. The speed of the FlexRay network lets the car make millisecond adjustments to its active shock absorbers and differential, contributing to handling.

Cabin technology employs BMW's new connected services, such as Pandora and MOG integration, and Google search built in to the navigation system.

BMW released photos and specifications for the convertible and coupe versions of the M6 today, both of which should debut at the 2012 Geneva Auto Show in March. The M6 convertible will go on sale as a 2012 model in June of this year. The coupe comes out in late summer as a 2013 model.