The BMW M6 is one of the oldest models in the M-lineup and played an instrumental role in cementing BMW’s motorsport legacy in the early 1980s. Since the M6’s inception in 1983, there have been two other iterations of the sleek, big-body beast. The most recent M6, brandishing the F06, F12, and F13 chassis codes, was produced from 2012 to 2019 to widespread acclaim.
Like most M-models, the F1X M6 shares very few components with the standard 6-Series of its generation. The most significant difference is the 4.4L twin-turbocharged V8 S63 drivetrain that powers it. In base form, the F1X M6 produces a neck-straining 560 horsepower and 516 lb/ft of torque.
As with most of BMW’s other turbocharged engines, the S63 is highly modifiable and capable of producing over 700 horsepower with stock internals. It isn’t even difficult to achieve these performance numbers from an M6, as simple bolt-on performance modifications will get you there.
BMW M6 Performance and S63 Engine Background
While the F1X M6 was an entirely new design from the BMW M GmbH subsidiary, the S63 engine was around for a while before the M6’s debut. The S63 4.4L V8 was used in the E70 X5M, E71 X6M, and the F10 M5 prior to its placement in the M6. While the engine’s overall construction remained the same through the generational change, BMW made significant performance tweaks to the S63.
The refreshed S63B44T0 featured distinct differences from the previous S63B44O0 that powered the previous generation of cars. The S63B44T0 utilizes revised Mahle pistons and a new crankshaft, increasing the compression ratio. The B44T0 also uses BMW’s Valvetronic III variable valve lift system, paired with direct injection. An improved dual-VANOS system was introduced with the S63B44T0 to improve strength and reliability. The last significant change came in the form of upgraded turbochargers. The S63B44T0 made use of Garrett MGT2260DSL turbochargers in favor of the older Garrett MGT2260SDL turbos found on the S63B44O0.
The third-generation BMW M6 was produced in three different chassis configurations. The two-door coupe retains the F13 chassis code, the convertible is known as the F12, and the four-door Gran Coupe has the F06 designation. All three use the same engine and drivetrain. However, due to the fact that the Gran Coupe and convertible are heavier, they are a bit slower. The vast majority of F-chassis M6s feature a 7-speed M Double-Clutch automatic transmission. Only 215 examples of the M6 are equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission.
5 Best BMW M6 Performance Upgrades
Upgrading an F06/F12/F13 BMW M6 is pretty straightforward. Since the S63 engine is a reinforced powerhouse from the factory, there isn’t a need to delve deep into extensive engine modifications to unlock a ludicrous amount of performance from it.
When compared to the S63B44O0-powered BMWs that preceded it, the S63B44T0 M6 is not only more receptive to BMW M6 performance upgrades but is also more reliable. The reinforced Mahle pistons, updated valvetrain, revised VANOS system, and upgraded cooling system found in the S63T0 all play a part in making the second S63 variant a fan favorite for aftermarket activities.
As stated above, it is relatively easy and inexpensive to squeeze 700 horsepower from an S63 M6. The main component that holds the M6 back from even more power from a stock setup is the factory 7-speed clutch packs, which begin to slip around the 650 horsepower mark. Regardless, there are a ton of fantastic modifications for the M6. Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:
- DME Tune
- Catless Downpipes
- Intake and Chargepipe Kit
- Upgraded Performance Exhaust
These four, relatively straightforward, mods are enough to get your M6 into true tire-shredding territory. While it is comparatively cheap and easy to get your M6 to this level, there are some other important considerations to consider.
BMW M6 Performance DME Tune
Perhaps the most straightforward BMW M6 performance upgrade of the bunch is either a flash or piggyback tune. While an F12 M6 will unquestionably benefit from an engine tune right out of the box, the true power potential from a tune comes when paired with other modifications.
From the factory, the S63 that powers the M6 runs a very conservative tune to enhance reliability. By increasing boost pressure marginally through a DME tune, it is possible to see 125-150 horsepower gains with factory equipment. Those kinds of gains are practically unheard of by other manufacturers.
BMW M6 Flash vs Piggyback Tune
In general, there are two types of M6 DME tunes to choose from; flash tunes and piggyback tunes. While the differences between the two kinds of tunes are nuanced, piggyback tunes are usually the way to go with S63-powered M6s.
Flash tunes are the more involved of the two tuning options. A flash tune re-maps the factory BMW DME and changes nearly every tune parameter from fuel flow to ignition timing. Flash tunes allow for more customizability and fine-tuning. However, the level of involvement that flash tunes provide is rarely needed for S63TU M6 applications.
Piggyback tunes are far more popular than flash tunes when it comes to M6s. Instead of remapping the factory DME, piggyback tunes act as an advanced boost controller, tricking the DME into thinking that it is running stock boost. The engine then responds to the updated boost demands and makes adjustments to fueling and ignition timing. In most cases, a piggyback tune is all that you’ll ever need with stock equipment. A more in-depth flash tune might be required if you intend on running upgraded turbos and a higher-pressure fuel pump on your M6.
BMW M6 S63TU Burger Motorsports JB4 Piggyback Tune
When it comes to BMW M6 performance tunes, there are quite a few options on the market. While there are quite a few promising examples, the most popular and widely touted tune comes from JB4. Burger Motorsports has been in the BMW tuning game for decades at this point. Their superior knowledge, gained from experience, is unquestionable when it comes to the S63 JB4.
The Burger Motorsports S63 JB4 system allows for extreme levels of customization for boost limiting or boost increases, data collection, and mapping. Burger states that you can expect an additional 100whp over the M6’s factory performance figure right out of the box. A well-tuned JB4-equipped M6 can crack the 700 horsepower threshold with very few additional upgrades.
There is a reason why so many F12 M6 owners choose the JB4 route as their tune of choice. Burger Motorsport’s unparalleled pedigree and outstanding customer support put them in a league of their own.
Burger Motorsport S63TU JB4 Price: $699.00
Horsepower / Torque Gains: 100-250whp
Purchase Here: burgertuning.com
BMW M6 Performance Catless Downpipes Upgrade
One of the best supporting mods, in terms of power gains, for any turbocharged engine is catless downpipes. The same can be said for the F12 BMW M6. Since the S63TU that powers the M6 is twin-turbocharged, the engine relies heavily on good exhaust flow. If a turbocharged engine has a restrictive exhaust system, backpressure builds within the various exhaust components and throttles your BMW M6 performance.
In most cases, the catalytic converters required to meet emissions standards are a huge source of exhaust restrictions. While the cats on the BMW M6 aren’t the most highly restrictive, they do limit the S63TU’s full performance potential. For that reason, catless downpipes allow the engine to breathe better, in turn boosting performance.
Catless downpipes add performance to other areas of the S63TU as well. For example, the increased exhaust flow allows the turbochargers to spool faster and hold more pressure. Throttle response is also heightened from S63TU catless downpipes. Overall, as far as BMW M6 performance is concerned, there aren’t any downsides.
There are downsides, however, when it comes to practicality. In most cases, catless downpipes are marketed as a track-only modification. This is due to the fact that upgrading to M6 catless downpipes will cause your car to fail to meet emissions standards in most states. The majority of enthusiasts running catless downpipes have to swap back to a stock downpipe setup to pass emissions.
BMW M6 Performance VRSF S63TU Catless Downpipes
As with all of the other performance mods listed here, there are a ton of catless downpipe options available for the S63-powered M6. However, not all S63TU catless downpipes are made equal. VSRF’s 3” S63 catless downpipe option is the best on the market for a few reasons. Unlike much of the other M6 catless downpipes on the market that slim down near the turbos, the VRSF option retains a full 3” profile. This gives them the edge in terms of maximizing flow.
The VSRF M6 downpipes are constructed from high-grade SS304 stainless steel to limit wear and handle high temperatures. They also come with a lifetime warranty. Should you have any issues down the line, they will replace the broken or defective part free of charge.
When combined with a tune, S63TU M6 catless downpipes will increase engine power by 50-60 horsepower. For a modification that only costs $600, they will make a sizable difference in engine performance that is immediately noticeable. Once again, it is extremely important to tune your M6 accordingly when upgrading integral exhaust components. It is the only way to achieve maximum BMW M6 performance from upgraded downpipes.
VRSF S63TU Catless Downpipes Price: $599.99
S63TU Catless Downpipes Horsepower/Torque Increase: +50-60hp & 50-60lb-ft (tuned)
Purchase Here: VR-Speed.com
BMW M6 Intake and Chargepipe Kit
In general, factory M6 intakes are pretty good for a stock car. If you intend on keeping your S63 M6 stock, or close to stock, and with factory turbos, upgraded intakes might not be the best option. Horsepower gains from upgraded intakes on a stock M6 are nearly negligible. However, if you are pushing excessive boost from stock or upgraded S63 turbos, upgraded intakes are a great option.
Upgraded S63TU intakes add horsepower by allowing better airflow to the engine and turbochargers. The most common form of upgraded intakes for the M6 is dual-cone intakes or DCIs. They were given that name due to their cone-like appearance, eliminating the massive and clunky factory airboxes found on the M6. In addition to the slightly increased performance, the true selling point of DCIs to most BMW enthusiasts is the sound that they create. The enclosed factory airboxes significantly muffle intake noise under the hood. Since DCIs aren’t enclosed, ear-pleasing turbo and induction noises are much more prevalent under acceleration. It’s hard to explain why those sounds add so much to the M6 driving experience, but they truly do.
BMW M6 performance from dual-cone intakes scale with engine horsepower and additional performance modifications. You can typically expect somewhere from 10-15 additional ponies by adding them to a tune-only M6. An additional 10-20 horsepower can likely be gained from DCIs strapped to a high-boost S63TU.
Burger Motorsports S63TU BMW M6 Performance Intake and Chargepipe Kit
Burger Motorsports is a recurring aftermarket parts manufacturer on nearly all of our BMW performance upgrade guides. This is simply because they make nearly every upgraded BMW part that you could ask for and do it extremely well. The same can be said for their M6 DCI and chargepipe kit.
The BMS setup is designed to optimize engine airflow to the highest degree. It features cold air ducting and a lightweight heat shield to lower the temperature of the air flowing into the engine which also marginally improves performance. It also uses removable and washable cone air filters that can be easily cleaned should they get dirty.
The added power comes easy, too. The Burger Motorsports setup is ready to go straight out of the box will all required hardware included. Simply unbolt the factory airboxes and bolt the DCIs right up. Easy as that!
Burger Motorsports S63TU BMW M6 Performance DCI Kit Price: $599.00
BMS M6 DCI Kit Horsepower / Torque Increase: +10-15hp and similar torque increase
Purchase Here: Burgertuning.com
BMW M6 Performance Exhaust Upgrade
A BMW M6 performance exhaust system is one of the best experience-enhancing modifications that you can do. In addition to really opening up the sound of the S63TU under the hood, a full exhaust also adds a fair bit of power if tuned correctly.
In many ways, a BMW M6 performance exhaust achieves performance similar to how catless downpipes increase power. The ultimate goal is to decrease the amount of resistance between the S63 exhaust manifold and the tailpipe. This increased airflow decreases the amount of backpressure that the engine has to contend with in expelling exhaust gasses.
In the case of the M6, the factory exhaust performs pretty well. The main restrictor in a factory M6’s exhaust system is the catalytic converters which can be removed with a catless downpipe, as listed above. For that reason, you’ll see the biggest power increase from a performance exhaust when combined with a catless downpipe setup.
Most BMW enthusiasts upgrade their exhaust more for improved sound than for performance gains. There are a ton of M6 exhaust systems available currently and sound is an important consideration in choosing one. BMW M6 performance exhausts can vary in loudness and crispness dramatically. Before purchasing an exhaust for your M6, it is always a good idea to look up a video clip to make sure that your option of choice sounds how you want it to sound.
Akrapovic M6 Exhaust
Akrapovic is perhaps the most well-known exhaust manufacturer for high-performance sports cars. Thye have a wide range of aftermarket exhaust options for everything from BMWs to Porsches. Over the years, they have garnered the reputation of being the best option for great-sounding performance exhausts for street applications.
Akrapovic systems are also known for their unparalleled build quality. While Akrapovic exhausts aren’t the most economical option, there is a reason why they are so expensive. Their M6 S63 exhaust is made from high-grade titanium, ensuring durability and decreasing weight. The lightweight construction shaves 23 lbs from the factory system.
The M6 Evolution Titanium Exhaust System features dual-outlet mufflers with exhaust valves so you can control the noise level with the touch of a button. In residential areas or places where you need to be discreet, the Evolution exhaust is capable of being tame and unassuming. It will, however, reach a noise level 10 decibels louder than stock if you’re being aggressive with the accelerator. It truly is the best of both worlds.
Akrapovic Evolution Line M6 Titanium Exhaust Price: $7,770.00
Horsepower/Torque Gains: +10hp & 12ft-lbs
Purchase Here: Urotuning.com
BMW M6 Performance Upgrades Summary
The F1X generation of BMW M6 is one of the best grand touring cars that BMW has ever made. In addition to being highly capable from the factory, the S63TU powerhouse that drives it is one of BMW’s most highly modifiable engines.
It is easy to push ludicrous numbers from an M6 with relatively few modifications. The upgrade that will unquestionably yield the most power is a DME tune. A JB4, or other similar tuning systems, will allow you to make significantly more power through increasing boost pressure. Even with factory equipment, a tune can push your M6 into a different league of performance.
Most other significant BMW M6 performance upgrades involve decreasing backpressure and increasing airflow to the engine. Catless downpipes are a great performance mod that will make your M6 much livelier and responsive with the tradeoff of being impractical during vehicle registration time. DCI and chargepipe mods will increase performance marginally, but the noise that they make warrants their inclusion. The same message carries through to M6 performance exhausts. While the power gains aren’t immense, the added roar is a great experience-enhancing factor.
If you enjoyed this article and are looking for more M6 content, we've got you covered! Check out our S63 M5 and M6 Common Engine Problems Guide or our BMW S63 Upgraded Twin Turbo Guide for more! As always, safe driving!