BMW M4 (2014-2020) review - Interior, design and technology
Muscular styling additions help the M4 Competition stand apart from the standard 4 Series, plus upmarket interior is treated to a racy makeover
Given that the M4 Competition is based on relatively humble underpinnings, sharing parts of its platform with the previous generation 3 Series saloon, BMW’s styling modifications have transformed the two-door M car into a menacing coupe.
The low-slung, muscular stance sets the car’s stall out straight away; there are three big air dams that span the width of the car underneath the BMW kidney grille and flattened headlamps, while the low bonnet and flared wheelarches increase the M4’s eye-popping stance.
In the past, the M3 always had special wing mirrors, and it’s no different with the M4. They feature cut-outs to reduce drag and channel air down the side of the car to the rear. At the back, the M4’s exhaust count weighs in with four, fat tailpipes. There’s also a slight ducktail profile to the boot lid. From every angle, the BMW looks like a properly focused sports car.
The Competition Pack cars look even more aggressive, thanks to their larger 20-inch multi-spoke forged alloy wheels, gloss black trim detailing and CFRP roof, while on the now discontinued CS there’s a carbon fibre bonnet, large centrally mounted air vent, a front splitter, larger cooling intakes and a rear diffuser fashioned from carbon fibre, along with a larger rear wing and a carbon-skinned roof. All of this goes to reducing weight by 32kg to 1,580kg. Finally, the limited-run (but now sold out) GTS adds matt paint, orange details and a huge rear wing, as well as a stripped-out interior with bucket seats and fabric door pulls.
Competition-spec cars get glossy, carbon-fibre detailing inside, with a widescreen 8.8-inch display for the iDrive system. There’s an optional head-up display on offer, too, with two configurable ‘M’ driving modes, while there's excellent support for faster driving thanks to heavily-bolstered front sports seats. Our only real criticism is that with some parts carried over from cheaper BMW saloons, the M4 doesn’t feel quite as special as some cars in this class. That said, the Competition Pack versions are given a lift courtesy of high-gloss Shadowline exterior trim, clear indicator lenses and black M Sport tailpipes
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The rest of the cabin is pure 4 Series, which does 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, wireless charging, climate control and heated seats.
As with other 4 Series Convertible variants, the drop-top M4 gets a three piece folding metal hardtop. Yet while the set-up delivers coupe-like refinement and security when raised, it’s slow to operate, adds weight and eats into boot space.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
Like all BMW models, the M4 comes with sat-nav as standard - in this case it's the brand's flagship Professional set-up. That means you get a large, dash top-mounted 8.8-inch screen that boasts crisp graphics and clear three-dimensional mapping. Also included is a split-screen function that allows you to view the map, while also calling up handy route information and detailed junction, roundabout and motorway exit layouts.
Finally, this Professional model gets BMW's excellent Real Time Traffic Information (RTTI) function that uses up to the minute information to advise you of traffic jams. Roads on the map are highlighted green, yellow, orange or red depending on the severity of the hold-up. As an added bonus, BMW will update the car's maps and RTTI subscription free of charge for the first three years of ownership.
As ever, this system is controlled by BMW's trademark iDrive rotary controller which has been refined over the years to become one of most intuitive systems to use. The large central wheel combines with around five shortcut keys, and with a little practise it's possible to change between functions without taking your hands off the wheel. Better still, the M4 also gets the Touch Controller function that allows you to 'write' instructions and destination entries with your finger on a touch sensitive pad set into the top of rotary control.
The M4 Competition gets a six-speaker sound system that features a DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port and a 20GB memory for audio files. Buyers looking for a sound upgrade can go for either the BMW Advanced Loudspeaker system (around £430) or the Harman/Kardon set-up (around £245), both of which add more speakers and a separate power amplifier.
Also available is a TV tuner (around £825), which allows you to tap into various digital channels - although the picture is disabled on the move.
In this review
- 1VerdictThe BMW M4 Coupe offers stunning performance and style, with much of the M3 saloon's practicality intact
- 2Engines, performance and driveBMW M4 Competition offers blistering performance and agile rear-wheel drive handling, but trade-off is very firm ride
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsDecent on-paper efficiency, but use the M4 Competition's full potential and you can expect mammoth fuel and tyre bills
- 4Interior, design and technology - currently readingMuscular styling additions help the M4 Competition stand apart from the standard 4 Series, plus upmarket interior is treated to a racy makeover
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe BMW M4 Competition is surprisingly practical for a two-door coupe. There's space for four adults, plus a decent-sized boot
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe BMW M4 Competition is a hotbed of tried and tested hi-tech parts, and it's also packed with cutting edge safety kit