BMW M4 Review
A BMW M4, you say? That’s right, BMW has renamed what would previously have been known as an M3 coupe, to bring the latest sporting two-door in line with the “odd numbers for saloons, even for coupes” logic of the rest of the range. It’s a rival to models such as the Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe, Porsche 911 and Jaguar F-Type.
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- Impressive performance
- Smart cabin
- Composed handling
What's not so good
- Pricy options
- Steering feel
- Fake engine noise
BMW M4: what would you like to read next?
With 0-60 times in the low four-second range, the BMW M4 has lost nothing of its mad-hatter nature in the rebranding, but the way it delivers that performance is rather different. The old V8 engine has gone, replaced by an inline six-cylinder like older M3s… albeit turbocharged this time.
And it’s the turbos that define the BMW M4 – they deliver huge slugs of torque from low down in the engine’s operating speeds, for effortless performance – the complete opposite of the outgoing car that needed to be revved to within an inch of its life to get the best from it.
What the new car can’t match is the old model’s glorious V8 scream, which has been replaced with a six-cylinder howl that sounds a little too manufactured for its own good.
The news is better elsewhere. The BMW M4 is highly adjustable so the suspension, steering and severity of the stability control systems can be tweaked to suit and, if you option the seven-speed DCT gearbox, you also get launch control – for perfect getaways every time.
As practical as any other 4 Series, but with the power to turn the earth on its axis
From its rivals, the Mercedes is the one that offers the sternest test, it can’t match the BMW’s cornering poise, but if smoky burnouts are your thing (and why wouldn’t they be) then the C63 AMG is the car for you.
It’s away from the track that, perhaps, the M4 shows its greatest strength – it’s everyday usability. Interior space is just as good as a regular 4 Series, so there’s space for four people, a boot big enough to take their luggage and plenty of useful cubbies scattered around the interior.
Equipment levels are similarly impressive for what is the performance flagship of the 4 Series range – go faster add-ons include 19-inch alloy wheels, an M body kit, a carbon-plastic roof and an Active M Differential that’s responsible for making the M4 so scalpel-like in corners.
The BMW has enough room on-board for four people, as well as a decent boot, but if you want something a bit more practical, then the BMW M3 could be the answer
Yes, you can go for a more practical version of the M4 - the M3 saloon - but since when has practicality been the most important concern to someone considering a sports car?
When compared to more extreme rivals such as the Porsche Cayman or Lotus Evora the M4 is more spacious with decent room for four people. However, the sloping roofline eats away at headroom and, as a result, the M3 saloon is the better bet for scaring passengers.
Being based on the 4 Series means the M4 also has plenty of cubby spaces. The doorbins are large and so is the glovebox, and you get a variety of other smaller cubbies scattered around the interior including cupholders and a lidded cubby, under the front centre armrest, for your phone.
The M4’s 445-litre boot is bigger than those in the Porsche or Lotus, but smaller than the ones in the Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe and the Audi RS5. The M3 saloon is again the more practical choice, but judging by the amount of M4s sold vs M3s, most buyers prefer style over practicality in a sports car. Surprising isn’t it?
Weight has been cut down a good 80 kg compared to the old the M3 coupe, now standing at a still-hefty 1,497 kg.
The M4 is a litre down on the old model, but twin turbos more than make up for it
The slimming-down has come courtesy of the use of aluminium for the bonnet and suspension, and carbon fibre reinforced plastic for the drive shaft and roof – the latter formerly limited to only the occasional special edition here and there.
One thing that can’t be denied is the immense performance that M Division’s new engine offers. Replacing the old 4.0-litre V8 is a twin-turbo, 3.0-litre inline six. Producing 431hp (and huge heaps of torque) it fires the M4 from 0-60mph in only 4.1 seconds, on its way to a limited top speed of 155mph. Throttle response is phenomenal for a turbo car, while the torquey nature of the engine – maximum pulling power is available from just 1,500rpm – makes it incredibly flexible.
While the performance is hard to argue with, the way that it delivers it is certainly up for debate. The turbo engine lacks character when compared to previous M3 units – the engine note is artificially enhanced and the torquey delivery can be a poison chalice on wet, slippery roads.
Whether you go for the manual gearbox or the dual-clutch seven-speed automatic, you’ll get a smooth-shifting transmission which is a joy to use. The dual clutch will be the most popular, but it adds 40kg to the weight and lightens your pockets to the tune of £2,645.
In corners, there is plenty of fun to be had and there’s more than enough potential for some sideways tyre-smoking action – if you’re so inclined. Even with the adjustable dampers in their firmest setting, the M4 is compliant over the worst bumps and body movements are well-contained.
The main issue – as with several BMW’s of late – is the steering. It has quite significant weight to it but offers very little in terms of feel. Part of the enjoyment of driving past M cars was exploiting their uncanny talent for describing to you exactly how they were behaving via the palms of your hands.
From behind the steering wheel, there’s not a whole lot to tell you the M4 is no ordinary 4 Series – you get fantastically supportive and infinitely adjustable sports seats, plus special M Sport door sills and dials lift the cabin ambience beyond the regular coupe.