Cooley On Cars
BMW's M6 Gran Coupe, a big, effortless rocket ride (CNET On Cars, Episode 30)Going fast in a four-door with BMW's M6 Gran Coupe, and how to make your old car look like new. Plus, five once exotic performance technologies you can have today.
-Here's the sync and here we go. There's something about going fast in a four-door. I've left a little bit of stability control alarm to save my ass when I lose it. How to make your old car look like a new one? Can you hear that? You should never be able to hear your paint. And five exotic performance technologies you can have today. It's time to check the tech. We see cars differently. Nice. We love them on the road and under the hood, but also check the tech and are known for telling it like it is. Ugly is included at no extra cost. The good, the bad, the bottom line. This is CNET on Cars. Welcome to CNET on Cars, the show all about high-tech cars and modern driving. I'm Brian Cooley. You know, on its face, a BMW M6 Gran Coupe seems sort of ridiculous. It's not a coupe. It's a four-door with huge amounts of track prowess loaded up with huge amounts of [unk] and luxury. Nothing would stop us from taking it up on its promise on the road and on the track as we check the tech. Yes, it's a little odd that I'm driving a four-door luxury coupe on a racetrack, but it's up to it. This car needs lithium. It's got at least two personalities -- one as a quite credible track car, the other as a four-door for four adults who are all for comfort. I don't think anybody, but BMW could pull this off. Let's drive the 2014 BMW M6 Gran Coupe and check the tech on the track. Let's cut to the chase, the power train. BMW's 4.4-liter V8 with direct injection and a pair of twin-scroll turbos turn a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission out to the two rear wheels via an active electronic differential. This is how the company earns its name. We're just about at the ragged edge of all performance functions except I've left a little bit of stability control alarm to save my ass when I lose it. 560 horsepower, 502-foot pounds of torque. Notice it's rather oddly under torque for a turbo V8. Now, as we noted earlier, the torque on this car is not crazy. As a result, it absolutely loves to be opened up and breathed. And it just runs and runs and runs. You'd feel that there's no red line. All right, come around, whoa, baby. You have the option of getting a 6-speed manual instead of this 7-speed dual-clutch. Now, that's interesting. And really, a 4,400-pound car has no right to hit 60 in about 4 seconds, but this one does. Wow, you get up to 100 plus so fast. Here's what you pay the piper. In spite of brake force energy regeneration and automatic start/stop, it's not enough to avoid a gas-guzzler tax. MPG is 14/20. The best way to describe this car's performance and especially its power delivery is effortless. There's just no problem in there where the car feels like it's gotta breathe harder. It just breathes easy all the time. That's why I come away from on this engine. The breathing is absolutely unbelievable. Now, short of the ostentatious BMW X6 M, that coupe UV, this is the most outrageous of the M cars. It says you can have it all except excess weight and here's how. Aluminum hood, aluminum doors, plastic fenders, plastic trunk lid. Up here, we've got a carbon fiber roof. All of this saving a lot of weight and saving it on the right places. Oh, and I love this touch back here. Look at that fared-in, high-center-mounted stoplight. Now, inside our M6 Gran Coupe, not a lot we haven't seen before. I'm still waiting for the new version of iDrive that will have a touchpad here on the controller and lets you move your finger around, draw characters, and pinch to zoom. Here's the home screen. The key things are the ConnectedDrive area where you've got BMW online and an interesting way to add little applications that are sort of like mini apps. More importantly, you've got built-in internet connectivity, and therefore, online search. All of this is on a standard 10.2-inch really wide, beautifully done LCD display. German cars don't know touch. It's all on the iDrive controller, buy they got this working really well now. Now, this is something new. I've not seen this before, BMW Online widgets. It's like some set of apps. I've got one running right now. It's that weather app that I chose and they are cloud based. Now, this is new also. When you're in a screen, you also see a shadow of the other screen that you click over to. This is a nice improvement. Now, off the infotainment, let's get to some of the drive control, really complex in M cars. This one's no different. You've got screen-based macros for the M Drive modes and then a whole bunch of direct set buttons down here. Let's walk through them. Two M Drive buttons on the wheel. So, you got the choice of setting stability control to full on, barely on, or completely off. Here's your engine or throttle response -- Sport, Sport Plus, and Efficient -- adaptive suspension settings. These are your three levels of firmness, aggression, and road reading. Steering is variable as well. And this is what I call the twitch control. It tells you how twitchy, how tight and fast your shifts are gonna be. And finally, I love this. They've got the most amazing hood in the M mode and you can have it show either general information or you can put it in the M view which puts this really cool kind of a banded tachometer and shift light indicator right on the glass. And down here, you've got some physical buttons that go with a lot of that. Here's my throttle response, suspension, steering response. There's my twitch control. So, hardware, software, however you wanna get there, but these you can do on the fly, not just as a macro. The shifter is interesting on these M cars these days. You've got reverse, neutral, drive. That's it. Plus, you can kick it back and forth to shift it. Shifting can also be done by the paddles on the wheel. Left is downshift. Right is upshift. Unfortunately, they're on the wheel which I hate. They should be on the stalk for a car of this much road credibility. Over on the left here, your driver assistance technology enables for lane departure and blind spot, collision prevention. And these cars have efficient dynamics which means, among other things, it recaptures energy from braking to regeneratively charge the battery and it's got the enforcement inclusion of auto start/stop which, on this car, is as bad as it is on just about every other car. I hate it. I turned it off. Standard audio is stunning. It's 16 speakers and 500 watts or you can option up. What we have here, the Bang & Olufsen system which you know because you got that pop-up dispersion lens on top of the dash. It sounds incredibly good. I bet the basic system does as well. Much of that cabin tech comes together in one message on the track -- a big effortless rocket that sheds weight with acceleration, delivers the classic joys of rear-wheel drive throttle steering, but also a completely modern delight in its dual-clutch transmission, so fast and so quick. You will finally give up on an egoistic pretense that you can shift better than a machine. In full-twitch mode, the gear change actually seems to happen faster than the paddle can return to its rest position. Now, you can't live with this car on the track all the time. So, how was it on the road? Well, first thing I noticed is there's a certain amount of driveline noise, sort of, I guess, I'd call it driveline wine that is sort of intrusive. Around town and such when you just wanna chill and just drive this thing, there's this-- kind of hard to pick up on our microphone here, but it's really annoying. In regular automatic mode, it's also a good, well-behaved gearbox. And reversing, good luck. I can't back it up without lighting him up. Okay, let's bill this guy. Now, it's the second most expensive of the M cars, so it's not gonna come cheap. With destination and the gas-guzzler tax, it's $117,000 and some change and we haven't even gotten it CNET style yet. The intriguing 6-speed is a no-cost pick. Carbon ceramic brakes are the big one, 9,200 bucks. They may pay for themselves 'cause they can get up to four times the life and they're virtually dust-free, which I love. Bang & Olufsen audio probably overkill, about $3,700. Night vision with pedestrian detection 2,600 more. Come on, why not? The executive package is 5,500 bucks and that brings you a lot of sort of silly niceties, but also that great hood, automatic high beams, and amazing active seats. And if you want the driver assistance package with the lane departure and the blind-spot stuff, it's kind of a steep 1,900 bucks considering it's not really active technology. All in, we're over 140,000 here. Now, you know me, I don't buy this idea that folks who buy track-capable cars ever take them there, very rarely if ever. So, I have to look pretty hard at this car's sibling, the 650i Gran Coupe which gives very little in terms of performance, gives you the option of all-wheel drive which is important in a lot of your regions as well as a more comfortable ride when you want it and a lower cost of ownership, both upfront and a little bit better fuel economy as well. Plus, with this guy, you're taking on the responsibility of a little bit of M car too-leanness which may or may not print for the person who wants a luxurious four-door. All in, I do love this car, but with your money. Oh, by the way, our full written review on that BMW M6 Gran Coupe is waiting for you at Cars. CNET.com. Now, a few parts of your car get as little respect, I would say, as the bumpers. Now, these two kind of dumb things hanging out each end of your vehicle all scarred up and kind of not noticed, but they should be because a lot of technical innovations have been going on underneath those bumper covers and they're of interest to the smarter driver. If you were into cars, 1973 was not a good year. The OPEC Oil Embargo had us waiting in long lines just to buy gas on either odd- or even-number days. But even worse is what happened to bumpers. Starting in fall of '72, the 1973 cars were the first to accommodate new Federal standards that said a car's bumper had to withstand a 5-mile-an-hour front impact or a 2.5-mile-an-hour back impact without major damage. So, bumpers got big, jotting, and ugly overnight. To this day, many vintage car collectors draw the line at '72s. Now, 40 years later, everything is different. The old chrome bumpers like on this Lotus, they're gone. This was basically strong trim. Today, the bumpers are tougher piece, but invisible, hidden underneath that cover that's integrated into the shape of the body. But also, the standards were cut way back in 1982. Cars now only have to survive a 2.5-mile-an-hour front impact or just a 1.5-mile-an-hour bumper corner impact. All this low speed testing is important not because it saves lives, but because it saves you money. How well a bumper performs in slow impacts will give you an idea how much you'll pay to repair the damage after and it varies a lot. The IIHS tested bumpers with a 6-mile-an-hour full impact and a 3-mile-an-hour corner impact. Those full impacts, by the way, are the lion's share in the real world. The cost to repair that impact damage on similar cars can vary wildly. According to IIHS, a full frontal on a 2011 Ford Focus bumper results in just $588 damage, same impact on a 2011 Hyundai Elantra almost 5 grand, and a similar pattern continues across other test modes. Average all test damage together and it's almost 4X more expensive from one car to the other. So, clearly, when you're buying a new or used car, it pays to double check these bumper impact ratings and what it costs afterwards, but know you're fighting a bit of an uphill battle for three reasons. Most bumpers suck. The IIHS finds most bumper designs simply don't go far enough past the very slim, minimum standards to be tough enough, high enough, or tall enough. Blame cost control but also the fact that the best bumper would probably not be the best-looking bumper. Bumper toughness regulations were largely gathered in the early '80s, and so far, have not bounced back. And finally, pickups, SUVs, and minivans, they get a pass on the Federal height standard, unlike your passenger car which, as you can see, quickly moved the discussion from how well your bumper performs to how well your headlights and hood are gonna perform, that gets expensive in a hurry. I never parallel park next to one of these. Your bumper is your first line of defense between you and the most common thing you'll pay for at a body shop. This kind of impact, you can see this one gave its life for the cause. Measure the effectiveness of these in dollars. Avoid common bumper-related damage by parking carefully around non-height compliant vehicles, trucks, and SUVs and consider low-speed forward collision avoidance tech in your next car. Depending on the car, that technology could pay for itself if it saves you just one, low-speed bumper impact. Coming up, we'll get your current car looking like new with old tricks and new tech when CNET on Cars rolls on. -This is the McLaren 12C born MP4 12C and its job is to take over the world. Boosting big pare from a big engine is one thing, but there's more to it than that. Do you hear about F1 take trickling down into road Cosworth, the 12c has some of that. It's got a quite cool invention called brake steer, originally used by McLaren in F1. What it does is to prevent under stay, when you're turning in, it brakes the inside rear wheel a little bit to keep you straighten through on the line you want to go in. It's also worth noting that, shortly after it was introduced to F1, it was banned for being a bit too good. -More love of cars at CNET.com/XCAR. Welcome back to CNET on Cars from our home here at the Marin Clubhouse of Cars Dawydiak, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. You know, I get a lot of e-mail from many of you asking about this car or the other that you're considering buying and I wonder if you, like me, are just tired of the old car, not that it doesn't run right but it just seems tired. No, not this one. But you'd be amazed what a couple of hours detailing your current ride will do to make it seem fresh and sharp again. So, we're kicking off a new section in CNET on Cars, a how-to series, starting with this one, "How to Detail Your Car." Your car is all tired and dirty looking, kind of like this one, but instead of spending the next five years paying for a new one, how about just spend one afternoon making this look like a new one. You get a sense of satisfaction and a new-looking car. Now, wheels with their complicated patterns and dirt in every little nook and cranny are perhaps the best reason to have someone else wash your car. I hate doing these. That's why I found this stuff. The motorcycle guys turn me on to what's called S100 Wheel Cleaner. If it avoids you having to go through every nook and cranny of one of these dumb brushes, I'm in. Next, it's time to wash the car and the first thing you do is just get it real wet. Okay, bucket number one, bucket number two. This one is where you're gonna make your soapy water. Fewer folks do number two. That's gonna be plain water to rinse the grit out of our wash mitt periodically. So, we're not just spreading it around the car. Now, once you make your suds out, it is an automative car wash. Don't go grab the strongest stuff you got under your kitchen sink. You don't use a lot of it, but you can use a sponge. I like these little kind of weird, little fingery wash mitts, saves you a lot to get in there with your fingers. That goes on into the suds. Start at the top of the car, inside the wheel lip, around this rocker. Oh, here's an old trick the old guys use. They take off the nozzle and do a simple rinse with just a hose. They reason it all comes off as one piece and takes the dirt off better. It's either a bunch of BS or a really brilliant physics, but it costs nothing to try. Okay, chuck the chamois and look into one of these deionizing filters for the final rinse. You can also find big ones on wheels. I hate drying cars. Okay, all the major stuff has been removed, but how about the invisible stuff? Here's how you know it's there. Take your hand, the one with outer ring on it, and run it over your paint. Can you hear that? You should never be able to hear your paint, but you can 'cause all those contaminants are stuck in it. It's like upsidedown sandpaper. We're gonna get those off with a clay bar. It looks like a couple of pieces of yellow silly putty in little envelopes there. You've got this spray that you use to lubricate the clay as it glides over your paint and another rag. You're gonna have a lot of those when you get done. Just kind of mold this thing out 'til it's, you know, about the size of the palm of your hand, select a small area of the hood or whatever panel you're working on, get a little bit of this stuff go in there. About a foot square is what I like to do. And take this clay, get it on there, and just go back and forth. You know you're done when it no longer sticks. I don't know if you can see that, but it's all those brown and black speckles in there. That's embedded grime that was stuck to the paint. I wish you were here on our shoot location. The difference between this and this is audible and totally tangible. Now, if you drop this guy on the ground, throw it away, you don't even wanna chance taking cement grit from your driveway and working it into your finish. Now, if you've discovered some new chips in your paint, this is the time to touch them up before the wax goes on. Okay, finishing now with our surface correction, we get to one of the biggest misunderstood areas about cleaning up a car and that is polish versus wax. They're often mixed up in people's minds. Polish is a micro-abrasive that will take off a fine layer of your finish and delete scratches in it. Wax is something you use to seal the finish after you've washed, clay barred, and/or polished it, whatever combination. Most people have put so much on that they get polish and/or wax down in all their crevices. You only need to go within a half an inch of crevices. That way, you never have that problem. Let it dry to a haze. Takes about a minute or two. Okay, then, a separate nice, dry buffing rag that's not moist at all to get this haze off and that takes almost no effort at all. Now, wax is something you put on to protect all the work you've just done. Put this stuff on pretty liberally, and again, almost no effort here. Think of it as like a moisturizer or an aftershave. You just did a real deep clean. Now, you wanna put something back in there and make it feel good. Now, tires. Some folks think putting tire dressing on looks tacky. Others think detailing is not done until you have put it on. It's up to you. I use Armor All, but I get the low-sheen natural finish stuff. I just spray it on and leave it on. I don't rub it in or anything like that. All I do is take off the excess. After, I'm done. I'm not taking a break. The old school trick is to take newspaper, wad it up, get some window cleaner on it, and use that to polish your glass. Today, we have a more high-tech solution, and that stuff like Rain-X which turns your glass into a more sealed, more hydrophobic environment. You polish this stuff in kind of like a polish or a wax, and once it dries to a haze, you buff it off. You'd be amazed how the water runs off. Look here, as I spray with a water bottle on the side of the windshield that I did seal and the side that I didn't, you can see that water just runs away on the Rain-X side. It's good stuff. Chrome cleans up great with glass cleaner. You can also use real fine steel wool if it needs it, but only if it's real metal. Now, there are lots of products to restore those faded black parts. These two work pretty well for me, though none of them do it permanently. Next thing is Lexol. It's great for a leather. You've probably seen this stuff. It's not cheap, but it really works and if you've got extremely stiff, dried-out leather, take a big ole sloppy handful, massage that stuff in 'til it's a wet mess, then leave it that way. In fact, I might put a little plastic over it, keep it moist, park it for a day or two out of the sun, come back and wipe off the excess. That leather will have come back to life. For general use around the car like this, once again, low-sheen Armor All. Same stuff we used on the tires. And when you're doing your glass, I use a non-ammonia glass cleaner. Sprayway is a great one. This stuff is great for the glass as well as, we mentioned earlier, great for the chrome. Getting in these little crevices where chrome and bezels meet, that's where this little eraser pencil comes in handy. Just come along in there and just dial around that area and then give it a quick brush. You may think this stuff is tiny, but in some, this is what says new and fresh to your eyes, not the broad stuff, like just smearing some Armor All around. Okay. As you're just about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of your detail, what do you do to keep the car nice day to day? First of all, keep one of these big ole car duster brushes in the trunk. Don't use it on a filthy car, but if it's dusty, these are great. They sharpen the car right up. Glass cleaner is great for glass as well as for chrome bright work around the car. Again, real quick, spray it on, microfiber rag take it off. And then you've got these instant detailers, a lot of brands of these. Give it a quick spritz with this, wipe it dry. It's kind of a cleaning, waxing, all in one. Nice. Half a day is about what is gonna take you to do your car right. When you're done, you got a car that looks phenomenal. It's actually more fun to drive 'cause you just feel good about it. I'm sure you've got some great detailing tips that I don't know. Send them to me on Cars@Cnet.com and I will get your car cleaned up. Up next, performance tech you can get today that was out of reach just yesterday when CNET on Cars returns. -There are plenty of performance-driving schools to choose from, but there's one that does things just a little bit differently. -Every corner has a different approach and a different sort of balance that we need to try to achieve for the car. So, the old adage of slow and fast out-- -Yes. -is true in any car. Now, your turning here is a little bit early. So you made this corner to tell you you've turned once. -Yes. -You've taken a lock off it and then you've turned again. -Yeah. -So, you've loaded the car, unloaded, and loaded. So, actually, you sort of upset the balance of the car size. So, what we're trying to do is make that one continuous lock all the way through. If you hang on to the brakes for too long and see your handling, where (a) you'll stop, but (b) you can actually shift too much weight to the nose,-- -Uh-huh. -and of course, you unload the rear axle. -Yup. -And bearing in mind where the engine is in the 911, you then lift that heavy engine up and it rolls as you turn in, so you [unk] -More love of cars at CNET.com/XCAR. -Welcome back to CNET on Cars. I'm Brian Cooley. This is the point in the show where we answer some of your e-mails about things we've talked about or things you want us to. In this case, it's the latter. This comes in from Braulio who says, "Hi, Mr. Cooley or as my five-year-old says, 'Mr. Cool,' I was wondering if it's possible to do a mini episode on Alfa Romeo on its saga and its return to the U.S. They abandoned us all years ago, but left us with such beautiful cars." True and true. I agree with you on all those points, Braulio. They've been gone too long. Here's where things stand. Very recently, Fiat corporate head, Sergio Marchionne, said they're working on yet another major revamp of Alfa to start doing rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive cars on an all-new platform. Automotive News points out that is about the fourth major revamp that they've announced in nine years. So, they have a pattern of kind of restarting and then restarting again. What Alfa is doing right now is mostly front-wheel-drive cars that can also be had in all-wheel-drive derivatives, but that doesn't spell performance to the market that they're targeting. The exception, of course, is the 4C which is kind of just mini supercar they've recently announced, just came on the market, very limited production, and unless you're a friend of your Maserati dealer, you probably never get a chance to even buy one. So, we're gonna watch and see if Alfa can get this new rear-wheel-drive/all-wheel-drive platform out there. It will have a lot of credibility if they can because that's what purests wanna see, not tail draggers. And we're also going to try and get our hands on a 4C that's limited as they are. It'd be nice to see where Alfa's DNA is heading. Now, speaking of performance cars, a lot of the best performance tech starts off in cars you can't afford, and you and I are just not in that round, but it trickles down more and more quickly. Thanks to technology's innovation cycle. We've got a top five to prove it. Number five is launch control. This was long the domain of like million dollar F1 cars with so much power that only a computer could get maximum acceleration without spinning the wheels. But lately, it's trickled down to use some high-powered vents in Shelby Mustangs that have the same problem. You can even find it now on a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, not a totally expensive car, although I don't know if this one ever gets real popular 'cause most of us aren't too worry about getting out of the hole in the shortest amount of time. Number four, adaptive suspension. A suspension that reads the road in real time and adapts to it. First showed up in big volume around 1990 on the original Infiniti flagship, the Q45, though you'd hardly know it since their first TV spots were infamous for telling you almost nothing about the car. Anyway, today, adaptive suspension can be found in European market -- VW Golfs, Opel Astras -- although it remains stubbornly upmarket in the U.S., coming down not much further than, say, an Acura MDX or a Buick Lucerne. Number three, the dual-clutch gearbox. This self-shifting dual-clutch manual transmission sprang from the realization that, let's face it, a computer can work our clutch and gears way better than you ever will. Hence, the first production dual-clutch gearbox was in the 2002 Volkswagen Golf R32, a very rarified model. But today, it's come down to Ford Fiestas and Dodge Darts with often crappy results, in my opinion, but also in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo which around $38,000 is perhaps the best dual-clutch-equipped car I've ever driven and not that pricey. Number two, the turbocharger. Turbos have been around since 1905 or so, but they didn't really arrive until 1975 with the Porsche 911 turbo. All of a sudden, this forced induction technology was a household word, even though the car that made it that way cost like 112 grand in today's dollars. Today, you go car shopping and you trip over turbo engines all the way down to, what, $19,000 Nissan Juke and a bunch of other small and affordable cars that use them as much to achieve efficiency as performance. So, today, saying you got a turbo under the hood is no longer a brag. Number one has got to be push-button start. This most ubiquitous, and sometimes, dumbest of technologies got its start in Formula 1 and other race cars, cars that have no keys obviously. Then, it was the Ferrari thing where it showed up as a key part of their Formula 1-inspired Manettino steering wheel. All of this suggesting suddenly that hitting a button is how you really get a hot car going and save a second that might hope you win a race. Well, today, that's found in a RAV4, a Chevy Malibu, or almost every single car that I review. It says high tech without actually being so. Hope you enjoyed the show. Thanks for coming by to check it out. Find me on Twitter, I'm Brian Cooley, Facebook.com/askCNET, or CNETOnCars.com if you wanna get to our site and keep those e-mails coming that's firstname.lastname@example.org. Juggle all that in your head and I'll see you next time we check the tech. Okay. I think we're good there.