When the sky starts to fall and results in slippery roads, what is one to do with a vehicle that is track ready? – Get snow tires!
The BMW M6 Gran Coupe
Under the frozen silver metallic exterior coat of the 2014 BMW M6 Gran Coupe parked at my home was a powerplant, not for the faint of heart.
The Two Twin-scroll Turbochargers (BMW’s TwinPower Turbo Technology) along with a 4.4L, V8 generates 552 horsepower of gargantuan fun. But that smile can be turned upside down quickly if it starts to snow.
Does that mean you need to park this potent piece of German engineering until the spring?
Not at all.
Granted, the “M” badge symbolizes that this 4-door coupe has a healthy dose of the German automaker’s renowned performance and it means it has a rear-wheel drive configuration. Other 6 Series nameplates without the M designation (whether the Cabriolet, Coupe or Gran Coupe) come with the xDrive all-wheel drive system.
So when the sky starts to fall and results in slippery roads, what is one to do with a vehicle that is track ready straight from the dealer’s lot? – Get snow tires!
I picked up some tips ahead of my ride from John Mahler, who has been in the automotive industry for decades as both a racecar driver or as a coach. He is currently the owner and chief instructor of Max Performance Driving and is the director of Bridgestone’s Canadian Winter Driver Training program.
He says, “As the temperatures drop, all-season tires get firmer and the rubber hardens up. Winter tires don’t harden up. And that’s the big difference.”
Mahler continued, “Traction essentially depends on the tire’s rubber conforming to the tiny, minute, irregularities in the pavement… If the rubber gets too hard, it just can’t do that, so it slips. Meaning, it’s not just for snow and ice, but also for cold pavement.”
Thankfully, the M6 Gran Coupe had them because it could have been an interesting situation.
And while one might be tempted to put the twin turbochargers to good use in adverse conditions, Mahler advised against it. Before I fired up the beast, I asked Mahler for some tips for all drivers.
He responded thusly: “It’s real simple one. And it’s the one that should be at the top of everyone’s list: Slow down.”
A close second, he mentioned, is, “Practice looking ahead.”
“One of the things that you should be doing when you’re driving in slippery conditions is break down the jobs your tire has to do.”
He expands, “If you need to brake for a corner, make sure you that you brake in a straight line before the corner so that you have all the available grip for slowing the car.”
Other tips Mahler offers is to test out how much traction you have by applying your brakes. In the case of the M6, they’re the M Carbon Ceramic Brakes ($6,750), which are designed to stop you in a flash. But if’s there’s no traction, the pricey option isn’t going to help much.
But on the days where grip is plentiful, and you can enjoy the ride a little bit more, the M6 Gran Coupe has a lot to offer. Not only is it, in my opinion, one of the sexiest vehicle’s BMW has ever produced; it comes loaded with the features that make you feel warm and fuzzy on a winter’s day. Like the Bang and Olufsen Sound System ($5,900.) It’s music to the ears.
Following Mahler’s tips, I had no mishaps and really enjoyed the drive. In fact, if I hadn’t seen the white stuff on the ground I would have sworn I was driving in dry conditions.
Driving conservatively and letting the 7-speed Double Clutch Transmission with Shift Paddles do its work made for a satisfying and safe drive.