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BMW M4 Review: 2014 Automatic Coupe Photo:
 
 
What's Hot
Intoxicating performance, brilliant handling, sumptuous interior and menacing style
What's Not
Tough call, but ?simulated? exhaust noise and electric steering are letdowns
X-Factor
It is not possible to drive the M4 and not be left grinning from ear-to-ear, such is its brilliant performance and balance.
Kez Casey | Oct, 05 2014 | 8 Comments

Vehicle Style: High performance coupe
Price:
$166,430 (plus on-roads) $176,790 as-tested.

Engine/trans: 317kW/550Nm 3.0 turbo petrol 6cyl | 7sp twin-clutch auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 8.3 l/100km | tested: 11.9 l/100km

 

OVERVIEW

Every story needs a hero. In the case of BMW’s new 4 Series range, for brute-strength and supercar capability, the stone-crushing M4 wears the speedos and the cape.

Super, it certainly is, and a big departure from previous mid-size Ms. The M4 belongs to a lineage that began with the M3 and encompasses screaming four, six and eight-cylinder engines.

And now returns to a six - but what a six. The last car in the M range to go turbo, the new M4 is proof-positive that hair-raising performance and incredible chassis balance are still at the heart of BMW’s M division.

It also pulls off something of a double act, combining sledge-hammer power with svelte wide-body looks and a premium interior.

This is the car to call on when it comes to stitching a string of corners together on a winding mountain pass, or turning lesser cars to specks in the rear-view mirror in mere seconds.

 

THE INTERIOR

  • Merino leather trim, heated and powered front sports seats
  • Lacquered carbon fibre trim, black chrome highlights.
  • ‘M’ blue and red stitched steering wheel with paddle shifters.
  • 8.8-inch colour i-Drive display with standard navigation, reverse and around-view camera system
  • 16-speaker 600w harman/kardon audio system.

It may share its bones with lesser 4 Series models (and the 3 Series too), but the lavish treatment in the M4 interior sets it apart.

The Merino leather trim is sumptuous and welcoming, with generous servings of stitched leather applied to the dash and doors.

The powered front seats feature the usual height and recline, but also benefit from adjustable bolstering that lets you decide just how firmly you’d like to be gripped through corners.

They’re impressively comfortable too - for those more relaxed trips - with a softer, finer grain than in lesser models.

Even the rear operates as a functioning two-person bench. Headroom makes way for the sweeping coupe roofline, but width and legroom are fine. If you’re on the shorter side of average height, you’ll barely need to duck.

Vitally, at the helm the chunky steering wheel falls to hand perfectly, and feels fantastic.

There’s no naff flat-bottomed nonsense here, just one constant radius the whole way around. Paddle shifters are right at the fingertips, but fixed to the wheel, not the column.

Around the cabin there’s a few hidey-holes: decent door pockets a compact glovebox and console and lidded cupholders.

The boot is deceptively large, at 445 litres it will fit golf clubs with ease, and can be expanded via folding seatbacks.

 

ON THE ROAD

  • 317kW/550Nm twin-turbo petrol 3.0 litre inline six
  • Seven-speed twin clutch automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive
  • Active rear limited slip differential
  • Front MacPherson strut and rear five-link multilink suspension, electrically-adjustable dampers, alloy suspension links
  • Rear suspension: Five-link multilink, electrically-adjustable dampers, alloy suspension links.
  • Active exhaust with bypass valve.
  • Wheels: 9x19-inch front, 10x19-inch rear alloys. Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.
  • Brakes front: Four-piston fixed calipers,

Let's start with a moment of silence for the dearly departed aspirated V8 found under the bonnet of this car’s predecessor the E92 M3 Coupé.

Truly, its high revving, screaming nature will long be the stuff of legends.

But this new M4 and its M3 sedan stablemate are mechanical proof of the theory of evolution - where only the strongest survive.

Take a look at that fat stack of torque, there’s 550Nm of it, from just 1800rpm all the way to 5500rpm.

That's an extra 150Nm arriving 2100rpm sooner, making the M4 an entirely different beast on the road. Meaning for day-to-day use the extra torque down low means you don’t need to travel everywhere at full noise.

Conversely, peak power of 317kW arrives at 5500rpm and stretches to 7300rpm - so if you do get the chance to wind things out, there’s ample reward for doing so.

Over the previous V8 engine there’s an extra 8kW, arriving a huge 2800rpm sooner.

It’s all set up to be 'alive', but superbly balanced and controllable from the rear.

Normally, feeding that much torque to the rear treads could be asking for trouble, but the M differential diverts torque to where it’ll provide the most push, while also allowing some oversteer from the rear.

The result is a rear axle that is playful enough to remind you what's underfoot, but tied to electronics that keep enjoyment high and make you look like a star.

In other words, you can hang the back out without it biting the hand at the wheel.

Noise, of course, plays a big part of the performance game, and this where the M4 will divide opinion.

Inside the car you might be impressed with the guttural deep bellow, but it’s synthesised and piped through the speakers - the politically correct way to enjoy a performance car without troubling the neighbours perhaps?

Don’t panic though, it’s not entirely silent outside. But you do need to really open the taps if you want to alert passers-by.

Ultimately, the M4 will do its best work on a racetrack.

That said, with multi-mode transmission, and selectable steering and suspension settings, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the M4, no matter what the surrounds.

Opt for comfort, and you almost have a commuter car - but give the long-pedal a nudge and acceleration is neck-snapping. Dial up Sport and there’s firmer steering and a suspension tune that's firmer, flatter and rightfully sporty.

Go all the way to Sport+ and driver aids are scaled back, giving you more room to hone your racetrack skill. This is the most menacing setting, and the one that feels most like an M-car of old.

Crucially though, such is the M4's handling that whether at suburban speeds or on the racetrack, it makes every corner a joy.

Tip it into a corner and the front end feels like it’s hanging on with velcro tyres, squeeze the throttle mid-corner and the rear end lets you know exactly how much grip is spare. The M4 is communicative, crisp, and responsive.

The electric power steering might be the only letdown, it’s not as communicative as it should be. It will still react quickly to inputs, but feedback is a little lacking.

There’s also also two M buttons to store your most used steering, suspension and engine setting.

For best results set one for sedate trips to the supermarket, and make the other as wild as you dare for more scintillating journeys.

 

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: Not tested.

Safety features: Driver and front passenger airbags, full-length curtain airbags, front seat side air-bags. Dynamic safety systems include stability control, cornering brake control, ABS with dynamic brake control, stability interaction DSC, active M differential, and cruise control with braking function.

 

RIVALS TO CONSIDER

BMW’s M4 lines up against some equally impressive metal, from Mercedes-Benz and Audi, but both of these models are getting long in the tooth, with the C63 coupe in limited supply and new model due next year, and the RS5 surely not far behind.

Lexus has also recently revealed details of its new RC F, so the game is hotting up.

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

With fattened guards, a scowling face, twin-tip mirrors, and four stout pipes hanging from the rear bar, the new M4 couldn’t be mistaken for anything other than an M legend.

It’s not all just angry looks though, the carbon-fibre roof and lightweight panels and suspension components point to a machine designed to deliver focussed performance.

From its rapid-fire dual-clutch transmission to its heat-extracting front guard-vents, the M4 is every inch the purebred performer.

There’s also the added benefit of being able pass for a sensible (well almost sensible) daily driver - in case you don’t get to spend every waking moment pounding corkscrew-like alpine roads.

The M4 scored a rare, unanimous ‘thumbs-up’ from the entire TMR team during its stay in our garage, with some staffers carefully calculating how they could best slot one in their own driveway.

When it comes to recommendations, they don’t come much better than that.

 

PRICING (excludes on-road costs)

The BMW M4 and M3 are available now.

MORE: BMW M4 And M3 Revealed
MORE: BMW M4 Convertible Revealed

 
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