BMW M4 Convertible

Powerful convertible is best for cruising

8.1
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 6 reviews
  • Strong performance
  • Smooth ride
  • Excellent powertrain
  • Weight
  • Steering vagueness
  • Handling lacks composure
 

£61,160 - £66,005 Price range

 

4 Seats

 

31 - 32 MPG

Review

Traditionally, BMW M3 convertibles have been considered the weakest link in the M car lineup. Thanks to the loss of rigidity that comes with chopping off the roof, they’ve always felt a little slow-witted beside their coupe and saloon counterparts.

Now known as the M4 Convertible, the latest model aims to change that. Although it is clearly a talented car, and vastly superior to its nearest rival, the Audi RS5 Cabriolet, testers aren’t convinced all of the shortcomings have been eradicated. The M4 is just too heavy to truly be considered a driver’s car.

Still, the lack of a roof means you don’t need computer-fakery to enjoy the sound of the straight-six engine. Feel free to take a look at our colours and dimensions guides to get a better idea of your BMW M4 Convertible.

The main talking point for 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 – it hardly feels any less solid than the coupe.

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 – described as “foggy” by one tester, 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.

The closest rival of the M4 convertible is the Audi RS5 Cabriolet. When you consider that the Audi is £5,500 more expensive, offers fewer driving thrills, and has to make do with a fabric roof, then it seems that choosing the M4 is a no-brainer. The M4 will be cheaper to run, too, thanks to decent fuel economy figures.

Options can be pricey, so be aware that it’s quite easy to spend another £10,000 on top of the asking price. Tick the boxes for the brilliant dual-clutch automatic gearbox and carbon ceramic brakes and you’re basically already there…

Conclusion

Despite the shortcomings of the M4, if you’re looking for a four seat convertible, there isn’t a better car 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?