£64,645 - £69,490 Price range
29 - 32 MPG
The BMW M4 Convertible is a very niche car. It rivals a wide range of over-the-top drop-tops such as the Maserati GranCabrio, Mercedes SL and Audi S5 Cabriolet but you need to really be looking for such a specific car to prefer it over it’s more well-rounded sibling – the M4 coupe.
The M4 may be lighter than the old M3 Convertible, but it’s still pretty heavy at over one and a half tonnes, so it’s not the last word in crisp responses or stiff chassis. However, that is only when you compare it to the hardtop M4. On its own, the M4 Convertible is engaging and fun to drive even if it can be a bit twitchy and nervous on the limit or in the wet.
Powering the M4 Convertible is a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight-six engine that has much better in-gear acceleration than the V8 in the old M3 Convertible and cheaper running costs. However, most people who are interested in the M4 won’t care all that much about the improved efficency, but instead find the slightly artificial engine note a bit of a let-down.
Inside, apart from the endless headroom you get with the metal roof down, everything is identical to an M4. That means a wonderfully build cabin that does have some details, like the body-hugging seats and sporty steering wheel, which denote the added M-ness, but ultimately it’s not that special in there.
To separate the M4 from lesser Convertible models it gets an M body kit, an Active M Differential that helps acceleration out of corners and 19-inch alloy wheels alongside an iDrive infotainment system that’s one of the best in business.
The main talking point of the M4 is the metal folding roof. When it’s up, the M4 offers coupe-like refinement and security, but flick a switch and 20 seconds later (and while travelling at speeds up to 8mph) the car is transformed into an open-top cruiser.
Roof up or down, the cabin is pleasant enough, being as it is identical to the coupe. This means you’ll find some brilliant sports seats in the front, and decent room for two people in the back. Fancy dials and M Sport stitching on the gorgeous leather steering wheel offer the driver small clues as to the performance potential that is a mere starter-button push away.
With the loss of a roof comes an inherent loss of body stiffness, which normally manifests itself as various shimmies through the cabin over bumpy roads. BMW has counteracted this by strengthening the chassis of the M4 convertible, and they’ve done a fine job.
There is a trade-off for this reinforcement, though, and that is weight. The convertible weighs 178kg more than the coupe, which can be felt in the way that it drives.
The suspension has been softened up to make allowances for the extra flex in the chassis, and as a result, it never feels as composed when driven hard. The added mass makes the convertible feel far less agile than the coupe, while the steering is still a letdown – it lacks the feedback that a driver needs to feel fully confident in the car.
Despite these flaws, the M4 Convertible is impressively refined. With the roof down, as long as the windows and wind deflector are up, the cabin remains distinctly un-breezy, even at speed. This, then, is an M car more suited to cruising down an A-Road than it is tackling a tricky mountain pass.
Unlike the bodywork and suspension, the powertrain remains identical to what one would find in the M4 coupe and M3 saloon. That means a 431hp 3.0-litre straight six sits at the front, aided by a pair of turbochargers. This final detail is what troubles the M car fans, as it goes against the tradition of the normally aspirated high-revving motors you’d find in past models. Their concerns are justified too – it just isn’t as characterful as, say, the 4.0-litre V8 in the previous M3, or the fantastic 3.2-litre straight six in the car that preceded it.
The extra weight hasn’t done too much to blunt the performance, though, with the convertible taking only three tenths longer than its coupe brother in the 0-60 dash, at 4.4 seconds. The lack of a roof allows the driver to better appreciate the noise coming from the exhausts. Yes, it is a little flat compared to old M cars, but it still produces a pleasing tone.
Despite the shortcomings of the M4, if you’re looking for a four-seat convertible, there isn’t a whole lot of better cars on the market. It is hugely fast, refined and easy to live with.
However, there are some very interesting alternatives in the shape of the Porsche Boxster and Jaguar F-Type. The Porsche is one of the finest handling cars that money can buy, while the Jaguar isn’t far behind, and the engines sound utterly spectacular. Both look far more special too. So the question buyers need to ask themselves is, how badly do you need those rear seats?
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