BMW built its first 2-door car in 1928. But the BMW tradition of sleek, sporty coupes actually started in 1938 with the model 327. Since then, Munich has produced some of the most exciting 2-doors ever to grace the world' most demanding roads. And for 2006 BMW adds two more, the Z4 M Coupe, and M6 Coupe. So thankfully, the tradition continues.
BMW's Z4 M Coupe and M6 Coupe are all-new factory tuner efforts, closely linked to Munich's current, only slightly more sedate lineup. The Z4 Coupe is obviously based on the Z4 Roadster, but it's not the first hardtop with Z-roots. That honor goes to the quirky Z3-based 1999 M Coupe, which combined an M-series drivetrain and suspension, with a unique hatchback, almost station-wagon roofline. We called it "hightop-sneaker-on-wheels" styling that BMW fans either loved or hated.
The 2006 BMW Z4 M Coupe dismisses that odd appearance, opting for a much more conventional and handsomely swift fastback profile. In fact, adding this slick hatchback hardtop to the Z4's angular lines, has produced one of the best looking BMW's in recent memory. And, it's also one of the most potent. Under the Z4 M Coupe's long hood is the same 3.2-liter twin-cam inline 6 used in the M3 and Z4 M roadster. Output is a hearty 330 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This drives through a short-shifting 6-speed manual gearbox with a heavy-duty clutch. And a special Variable Differential Lock, plus M-calibrated Dynamic Stability Control system.
The strut front/multi-link rear suspension has been appropriately stiffened up with new springs, shocks, and anti-roll bars. While the wheels are special 18-inch alloys wearing ZR-rated high performance tires. Meaty 45-Series in the front and 40-Series in the rear.
Of course this all adds up to serious road mastering performance, although not as serious as we expected. On a very hot and humid day, our test Z4 M Coupe hammered to 60 in 5.1 seconds. BMW says it should be under five. Still a quarter mile of 13.7 seconds at 105 miles-per-hour is nothing to sneeze at.
In typical M fashion, power is available right off idle. The engine then rockets to its high 8,000 rpm redline without a bump or a stutter along the way. The gearbox is smooth and precise, and the electronics reduce wheelspin without stealing speed.
With the stability program in Sport mode, the M Coupe charges through the curves, delivering astounding traction and reacting instantly to driver inputs. Turn off the electronics and the car goes from solid to skittish, the back end stepping out if you're not careful with the throttle pedal.
But through it all, the M's hydraulic steering delivers instant response and superb feedback. It stops well too. We averaged a short 120 feet from 60, with good pedal feel but a bit of shimmy in the front end. Road-wise, the Z4 M Coupe is solid but not harsh. The feel is back-to-basics sports car, with a few welcomed rough edges.
The interior is mostly shared with the Z4 M Roadster, with fine leather on the tight-fitting M sport seats, and equipment that ranges from high-end audio to DVD navigation. All for a base price of $49,995. Not cheap, but the 2006 BMW Z4 M Coupe delivers one of the best drives of the year, so what's a few grand for a very worthwhile reward?
Now, if you really want to indulge yourself, then consider this 2006 BMW M6 Coupe. Based on the latest 6-Series hardtop, with many of the technical attributes of the amazing M5 sedan, the M6 is Munich's 2-door autobahn burner extraordinaire.
The heat comes from the same 5.0-liter 40-valve V10 engine that powers the M5. And yes, it makes the same 500 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. And drives it through a 7-speed SMG transmission with a dizzying 5 automatic and 6 sequential manual shift programs.
In plain English that means this 2-ton BMW is capable of hauling to 60 in only 4.9-seconds, and through the quarter mile in 13.5 seconds at 115 miles-per-hour. And like an express train, the power is huge from the bottom to the top, with the engine pulling harder and harder as the revs rise. In high-speed mode shifts are computer fast, but stiff enough to jolt the whole car. And when that power hits the rear tires, they fight for traction. It's a real thrill ride.
Handling is impressively sharp for a heavy coupe, thanks to an M-spec double-pivot front and 4-link rear suspension, and dartingly quick steering, with more electronic assistance than a stealth fighter. And massive cross-ventilated brakes that will haul it down from 60 in a squat 121 feet. But it puts out all this amazing performance while still delivering long-haul ride and comfort.
And the over-the-top style and opulence of the finest luxury cars. That starts with the 6-Series' eye catching exterior. In its basic form it is absolutely gorgeous. A seamless blend of innovative shapes and timeless BMW heritage. Made even more seductive with subtle M-trim, logos, and 19-inch radial sport wheels.
Inside, if it's available in a premium ride; from leather, wood and carbon trim to the finest digital audio to the super sophisticated and now tamer all-in-one iDrive control, it's in the M6.
And that's why it carries a base price of $96,795. But then who would think that the ultimate Bimmer coupe would be easily affordable? The 2006 M6 and Z4 M Coupe are the ultimate BMW coupes! At least for now. And easily worthy successors to the original 327, and every amazing 2-door to ever wear the BMW badge.
Z4 M Coupe:
Engine: 3.2-liter twin-cam inline 6
Torque: 262 lb feet
0-60 MPH: 5.1 seconds
1/4 Mile: 13.7 seconds @ 105 MPH
60-0 MPH: 120 feet
Engine: 5.0-Liter 40-valve V10
Torque: 383 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 4.9 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 13.5 Seconds @ 115 MPH
60-0 MPH: 121 Feet