BMW M4 Coupe 2014 review
The UK-spec BMW M4 Coupe makes a compelling case for itself
The turbo engine in the BMW M4 lacks the frenetic power delivery of the old M3 coupé’s V8, and doesn’t sound as good, but you can’t question its superior performance. And as everything else about the new model is so well sorted, there is no doubt this is the best M car currently on sale. In fact, given its range of abilities, the £56,000 price tag looks quite good value.
Here's a lot riding on the new BMW M4. It’s the first time the coupe version of the M3 has been given its own model name and, more importantly, it gets turbo power for the first time.
So as we climbed behind the wheel of a UK-spec M4, our main focus was on the engine – after all, the 4.0-litre V8 was the highlight of the last M3.
Glance at the stats and you’ll struggle to find anything to criticise about this downsized unit. It produces its maximum torque of 550Nm (that’s 150Nm more than in the V8) between 1,850rpm and 5,500rpm, and from that point right up until the lofty 7,300rpm red line the engine delivers its peak power of 425bhp (11bhp up on the V8).
This plateau in the power curve means when you rev the engine out and change up, you’re still at peak power in the next gear. But while this is great for outright performance, you don’t get that enjoyable sensation of power building to a crescendo – and that’s what made chasing the red line such fun in the V8.
In that sense, it has less character than the old car, and the muted noise doesn’t help. BMW has tried to capture the best parts of the engine’s sound and enhance them through the car’s speakers, but the result is a bit artificial.
Still, we should be looking at the bigger picture. Turbocharged cars are here to stay, and this one is a cracker. Instead of wringing out every last rev, you end up enjoying the masses of torque in the mid-range – it’s easily accessible, it’s flexible and it feels like a much more relaxed car when you’re just cruising. Let’s not forget that it’s blisteringly fast and relatively frugal, too, promising 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds and 34mpg.
And besides, any questions about the engine are more than answered by the sublime chassis. It’s been stiffened in various places so the M4 is 35 per cent more rigid than the 4 Series on which it’s based. This, plus rear subframes which are bolted to the body without bushes, give the car a precise feel. Weight-saving measures like the carbon roof, aluminium bonnet and carbon fibre-reinforced plastic bootlid boost agility further.
Select the carbon ceramic brakes and you’ll save even more weight, although they cost £6,250 and the standard items are impressive enough as it is. Even if you don’t, with the manual gearbox the M4 weighs less than 1,500kg, which is around 80kg less than the old BMW M3 Coupé.
Most people will, of course, go for the slightly heavier dual-clutch system, which is smooth in auto and rapid in manual. You can alter the ferocity of the upshifts between three levels – we found the middle setting the best.
The same is true of the throttle response, adjustable dampers and electromechanical steering, which is so good you won’t miss the old car’s hydraulic system.
There are also three levels of stability control: on, which is very well judged; almost off, which will allow slides (these are easy to provoke thanks to the electronically controlled M differential), but tidies them up if you get out of shape; and all the way off, where you’re on your own.
You can mix and match your favourite settings and store them using the M1 and M2 buttons on the steering wheel. Play around with these modes and you can discover the M4’s wide range of talents.
It can be very comfy and relaxing – helped by the superb M sports seats – yet if you want, it will transform into a thoroughbred sports car, which is exactly what an M car should be.