The M4 Coupe might be getting all the headlines, but don’t forget the new M4 Convertible – BMW is expecting nearly half of M4 sales to be of the drop-top kind. We climbed behind the wheel to see if those buyers are getting a car that’s just as impressive as the Coupe.
The folding hard-top features the same 425bhp 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six as its fixed-roof sibling, so the performance is clearly very similar. But it has the disadvantage of a 178kg weight penalty. In lesser versions of the 4 Series Convertible, this feels like a serious problem, although in the M4 you can barely spot the difference in straight-line performance.
Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 4.4 seconds with the optional dual-clutch gearbox – that’s three-tenths slower than the Coupe – but there’s so much torque from this engine throughout the rev range that the weight penalty barely even registers.
One reservation we had about the M4 Coupe – and the M3 Saloon – was that the engine sounded a little artificial in the cabin. That’s still the case here, but once you fold the roof down (it takes 20 seconds and can be done at up to 11mph), things definitely start to improve. You can hear more of the natural exhaust noise – a rough
metallic growl – and you wonder why it’s such a struggle to make it sound this good inside as well as out.
The convertible’s extra weight can’t be good for handling, but the M Division has managed to hide it surprisingly well – something that can’t be said for the standard 4 Series Convertible, which wallows and leans through corners much more than the lighter Coupe.
Admittedly, the M4 Convertible doesn’t feel as eager to stop as the Coupe and there’s certainly a bit more weight transfer on to the outside wheel through bends, but this is certainly the sharpest four-seater cabrio money can buy. The excellent steering and nicely balanced chassis see to that.
If you’re going to be using your car on track a lot then the optional carbon-ceramic brakes (an eye-watering £6,250 extra) will be better suited to reining in the Convertible’s weight from speed again and again. They weigh 12.5kg less than the standard brakes, too.
And as well as being a compelling sports car, the M4 makes for a good convertible. With the roof down, the windows up and the wind deflector in place, you can cruise down motorways with next to no buffeting. It even has the same cosseting ride as the Coupé.
Set the suspension to Comfort and the M4 Convertible rides over bumps and crests with much of the composure of any other 4 Series. The issue is that you can feel the body flexing over violent bumps – which doesn’t happen in the stiffer Coupé. It’s not a deal-breaker, but an example of the trade-offs Convertible buyers will have to make.
There are other subtle compromises, too, like the fuel economy, which falls from 34.0mpg to 32.1mpg, and the boot space, which drops from 445 litres to a still vaguely impressive 370 litres with the roof up. Fold the top, and things get cramped, with just 200 litres available.
Even with these slight negatives, the M4 Convertible still makes a strong case for itself. Nothing else can match it – there is no AMG version of Mercedes’ soft-top E-Class and the Audi RS5 Cabriolet is showing its age. So, if you like your four-seater performance cars with wind-in-the-hair thrills, the M4 Convertible is the best car in this class.
Now watch the BMW M4 take on the Audi RS5 in our track battle video...