We all knew what we were getting on the M car after the unveiling of the BMW 4 Series coupe a couple months back. And you know what, after seeing the design for some time now, I’ve come to the realisation that the bucktooth grille is actually not that bad. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the all-new BMW M4 actually looks really good.
It might be the romanticisation of the letter M, but the gaping kidney grille – now separate items and completely blacked out with horizontal M slats – flanked by large lower air intakes at the bottom, does contrast the brilliant Sao Paolo Yellow paintjob quite nicely, in our opinion at least.
The look is complemented by the two aggressive bonnet cut-outs on the crests that extends from the grille itself, along with a standard-fit carbon fibre roof, stretched-out fenders with M gills on the front, blacked-out and extended side sills, darkened taillights, boot-mounted spoiler, and the chunky 100 mm exhaust tailpipes, two on each side.
Yes, the polarising grille still draws differing opinions and will make up the majority of discussions on the internet for the next week or so. But really, on an M4 where you should be spending most of your time in, does it really matter that much?
On that front, the all-new BMW M4 is powered by the S58 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged inline-six engine, the same that’s found on the X3 M and X4 M. The engine is available in two states of tune – the standard M4 gets 473 hp and 550 Nm of torque, while the higher-tuned version in the Competition specification serves up 503 hp and 650 Nm of torque.
The output figures on both tunes are actually higher than the outgoing BMW M4 Competition – 48 hp and 59 hp respectively to be exact. Torque wise, the M4’s uprated S58 engine in the Competition form produces 50 Nm more than the unit in the X3 M and X4 M Competition.
The base BMW M4 will be equipped solely with a six-speed manual transmission, while the Competition model gets an eight-speed automatic, replacing the dual-clutch transmission of yore. The simpler manual transmission does mean that the base model weighs about 23 kg lighter than the competition model, which BMW claims gives it a better weight distribution, and it also have a rev-matching function that can be toggled on or off.
The boost in performance means that the new M4 and M4 Competition now sprints to 100 km/h in 4.2 second time for the M4, and 3.9 seconds for the M4 Competition. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h, but buyers can opt for a driver’s package which raises it to 290 km/h in conjunction with Z-rated tyres.
For the first-time ever on an M4 (and M3 for that matter), BMW is offering xDrive all-wheel drive as an option on the Competition models. An active rear differential sends torque solely to the rear wheels until more traction is needed at the front, and like on the current M5, the M4 Competition’s all-wheel drive system will have a “drift” mode for maximum slidability.
To handle the extra grunt, the chassis from the M440i have been significantly strengthened to increase torsional rigidity with significant use of aluminium bracing elements in the engine compartment, both axles, as well as on the underfloor. Both M4 variants will get adaptive suspension as standard, along with variable-ratio steering, a special mode on the stability-control system for more slip, as well as adjustable brake pedal feel.
Buyers can also specify the M Drive Professional system on their M4 (standard on the M4 Competition), a track-focused software suite which includes a 10-stage M Traction Control, a virtual coach to encourage “consistent progress” in your lap times, and even a M Drift Analyser which records and rates how well you stick your rump out through a corner. Times change and technology improves, but an M car will still always be an M car.
Inside, the all-new M4 is pretty standard BMW affair with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 10.25-inch infotainment display running the latest iDrive 7.0 system – all with M-specific displays. There’s also a new M steering wheel with two red M buttons, along with carbon-fibre slathered across the dashboard and centre console.
What really stood out to us though, are the optional M Carbon bucket seats on the launch images, which are nearly 10 kg lighter than the standard seats, positioned lower, and can be fitted with a multipoint-point racing harness. But we’re not just intrigued by the seats itself, but the wild Yas Marina Blue, yellow, and black colour combination on the interior upholstery, making sure your interior is just as eye-catching as the Sao Paolo Yellow paintjob on the outside.
Of course, tamer colourways are available, and if you’re not a trackday nut, you’ll also be able to specify your M4 with the usual M Sport seats, which are covered in fine-grain Merino leather, with seat ventilation available for the first time on the model.
There are a tonne of standard features on the all-new BMW M4 as well to make daily-driving a more pleasurable experience, including a Harman-Kardon sound system, automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-departure warning.
The Competition model steps it up a notch with the Driver Assistance Professional package which adds on adaptive cruise control with stop and go and traffic-jam assist, active lane-keeping assist, among others.
All that’s left is how it really drives. BMW promises “searing performance with everyday usability”, which in our opinion, is what made all the previous M3 and M4s so desirable. Can the all-new BMW M4 hold up to its enormous reputation? We can’t wait to put the new one to the test.