BMW M4 review

Our Rating: 
5
5.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The BMW M4 replaces the previous M3 Coupe, offering stylish looks and incredible performance

For: 
Engaging handling, Impressive comfort
, Blistering acceleration
Against: 
Headroom in rear seats, 
Engine noise sounds fake, Poor fuel economy

Such is the pedigree of the BMW M3 that for the past three decades it’s been the compact sports saloon by which all others are judged. Now it’s joined by the sleek M4, which packages the same twin-turbo straight-six into the rakish 4 Series Coupe body.

It uses the same powertrain combination and basic chassis set up as the M3 Saloon, meaning a 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six is available with either six-speed manual or seven-speed twin-clutch gearboxes.

It’s the more style-driven model and BMW expects to sell around 1,000 M4s during the first full year of sales, while shifting around 180 M3s. In terms of driving appeal, there’s really not much to choose between the two though the M4 does sit slightly lower to the ground than the M3. But really, the choice boils down to what you need most, looks or practicality, because the M4 only costs about £500 more than the M3.

Styling

4.4

that extends to wider wheelarches, a menacing power bulge in the bonnet, a deeper front bumper and a quad exhaust set-up. Highlights include trademark M car vents cut into the front wings and an integrated tailgate spoiler that takes its cues from the legendary 2003 E46 M3 CSL.

The M4 gets an equally racy makeover inside, which helps distance it from the normal version. As with all M-badged machines, it features blue and red stitching on the steering wheel, plus there’s carbon fibre trim for the dashboard, revised dials and a pair of figure-hugging sports seats in the front. The centre console includes the familiar iDrive multimedia controller, too.

The rest of the cabin is pure 4 Series, which means a thoughtfully laid-out dash, high-grade materials and excellent build quality. Plus, the low-slung driving position is perfect. The standard equipment count extends to sat-nav, a DAB radio, climate control and heated seats.

Driving

4.8

All BMW M4s fitted with the dual-clutch gearbox come with Launch Control as standard. Engage it, floor the throttle and step off the brake and you’ll realise how ferociously powerful it is. It rockets off the line, hitting 62mph in just 4.1 seconds and easily on to a limited top speed of 155mph. Those who want to can pay BMW to remove the limiter, allowing the car to go over 170mph.

Put the suspension and steering in their most performance-focused settings and the M4 is an absolute blast to drive. It grips so hard in corners that you’re constantly waiting for it to understeer but it never does. As with all BMW M models you can use some of this car’s prodigious power to coax the back end in to an easily controllable slide.

Better still, the adaptive dampers deliver rock-solid body control and very little roll – although the ride is firm in Sports Plus. Set everything to Comfort and the M4 is almost as refined and relaxed as the standard 4 Series, making light work of long motorway journeys and congested city commutes.

The most controversial aspect of the new M4 is its engine, which features turbochargers for the first time. However, diehard M car fans have nothing to fear, as it’s sensational. The partly synthesised exhaust note in Sports Plus mode is slightly noisy and has an artificial sound. 

Then there’s the way it revs. While it may rev almost as high as the V8 with a redline of 7,300rpm, after 5,500rpm you have already reached the full 425bhp. This means that for the next 2,000rpm there is no more sensation of power building so you don’t get the urge to chase the red-line.

In practice though this characteristic means that if you do wring the car out, when you change up you are still at peak power and this makes for rapid progress.

Reliability

4

With the BMW M4 being so new it's hard to say how reliable it will turn out to be. What we do know is that it shares a lot of its electrical systems and basic chassis components with the BMW 3 Series and 4 Series. With both those models boasting a good reliability track record, there’s a good chance the M4 will be reliable, too.

BMW’s standard 3 Series finished an impressive 14th in our Driver Power 2014 satisfaction survey, which is good news because it shares some of its mechanical components with the 4 Series. While many of the M4’s underpinnings are bespoke, the car is also part hand-built by M Division.

Standard safety kit isn’t in short supply, with all models featuring six airbags, lots of electronic safety nets and uprated brakes. You can also add an £825 head-up display and £370 lane keep assist.

Practicality

3.6

It may be mechanically near-identical to the BMW M3, but the M4 is clearly the less practical of the two. The 445-litre boot is 35 litres smaller than in the saloon and the rear seats are lacking headroom.

BMW M4 rear

Anyone over six-foot tall will have their head rubbing against the roof – despite having plenty of legroom. Obviously, those back seats are more difficult to access because of the two-door layout and you can only get two individual seats, rather than a three-seat bench.

Running Costs

2.9

Compared with the old M3 Coupe – which used a large naturally aspirated V8 – the M4 uses a turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder unit. As a result this car is a lot more efficient than the car it replaces, with BMW claiming the improvements amount to around a 25% increase.

Low 194g/km CO2 emissions are good for company car drivers, with higher-rate earners facing an annual Benefit in Kind bill of £7,267, which is £992 less than for the Audi RS5. The only real fly in the ointment for BMW drivers is the thirsty return at the pumps.

In numbers that are easier to understand, the M4 claims 34mpg with the auto gearbox and 32.1mpg with the manual. CO2 emissions stand at 194g/km and 204g/km, respectively. 

This is still a serious performance car, though, so servicing costs are going to be higher than for a standard 4 Series and insurance will cost you a fair chunk more, too. 

Last updated: 9 Jul, 2014
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