- Fun to drive
- Exhaust note could be better
Rory Reid reviews the new BMW M4 Coupe to discover whether it’s a deserving successor to the M3 Coupe.
The BMW M3 coupe is dead – from this day forth, you’ll only be able to buy an M3 in four-door saloon form. All is not lost, though – the spirit of the M3 coupe will live on in the form of the M4 Coupe.
It is, in essence, an M3 with a fancy new badge, a lightweight chassis, sleek new body and a new, more efficient engine. Can it live up to the standards set by its predecessor? We took one out for an extended blast around Austria to find out.
BMW M3s have always carried an air of muscular aggression in their design and the M4 Coupe is no different. If anything, it’s even more aggressive, thanks to a focussed, almost sinister-looking front end that sports larger vents with new aerodynamic additions.
Everything on this 2014 M4 Coupe has been created from scratch, barring the headlights, doors and windscreen, which have been brought over from the previous M3. Everything else was ditched or tweaked in an attempt to shed weight.
Lightweight front seats and carbon fibre roof save 6kg each. The Carbon boot lid saves 5kg, while the aluminium bonnet sheds 8kg. The biggest savings can be found in the new lightweight manual transmission, which saves a hefty 12kg, and the new battery, which sheds 12.8kg.
The diet means the M4 Coupe tips the scales at under 1,500kg – positively anorexic in modern sports car terms.
The M4 Coupe isn’t as practical as the M3 Saloon, for obvious reasons. Yet it’s still relatively spacious inside. The front is as accommodating as we could’ve hoped for with firm, yet comfortable sports seats, lots of leg and headroom and lots of space for drinks, snacks and the accoutrements of everyday life.
The boot is spacious, too, with enough room for a couple of suitcases. The only question mark is the rear seating compartment. You’ll have to clamber over the front seats to get back there, and once you’re situated you may find headroom a tad limited.
Performance & Handling
The M4 gets its power not from a 4.0-litre V8 as in the fourth-generation M3, but a 3.0-litre six-cylinder twin-turbocharged unit. We’re happy to report this doesn’t fall victim to any of the pitfalls associated with turbocharged engines. There’s no turbo lag for a start. It’ll produce 5,500Nm of torque – 40 per cent more than before — from as little as 1,850rpm.
It’s also relatively rev-happy – screaming all the way to 7,600rpm. Peak power – 431hp — kicks in from 5,500rpm and sticks around until 7,300rpm. As a result, the engine never falls out of the peak power sweet spot during gear changes – acceleration is absolutely savage as long as you’re brave enough and have enough road in front of you.
Our test car was fitted with the optional seven-speed M DCT dual-clutch automatic transmission which is, for want of a better word, magical. It can act like an ordinary automatic gearbox, changing up and down as required without fuss, but has a manual mode, accessible via a sequential shifter on the centre console or paddles behind the steering wheel.
In manual mode the transmission gives you almost total control over what you do with the gears. Want to redline the car in first gear all the way to your destination? Not a problem – it’ll hold your chosen gear until you run out of fuel or get bored. Likewise it’ll let you cruise in too high a gear with your foot to the floor, going nowhere fast, if that’s what tickles your fancy.
We can’t imagine anyone wanting to do these things, but the fact the M4 allows that level of control is commendable.
By default, gear changes are almost imperceptible. However the integrated Drivelogic system means the driver can adjust the harshness of each gear change on a whim. You can, if you want, get a real kick in the back every time you shift up, which makes for a more involving experience. At its most aggressive setting, it’ll change gears so ferociously it’ll upset the balance of the car, causing the back end to step out – which is exciting to say the least.
The stiffness of the steering and suspension and the responsiveness of the throttle can be adjusted independently in the same way at the push of a button. Two M preset buttons on the wheel let you save your preferred driving characteristics.
0-62mph is knocked off in just 4.1 seconds – just over half a second quicker than before with the M DCT box, or 4.3 seconds with the manual, which is supercar territory. Its 50-75mph acceleration time is even more impressive, the new M4 completing overtaking sprints in 3.5 seconds. Previous-generation M3s with the automatic gearbox took 4.4 seconds, while their manual counterparts took a lethargic 5.1 seconds.
The M4 corners well. Understeer is virtually nonexistent, though it’ll happily throw its backside around if you’re enthusiastic with the throttle on corner exit. Bodyroll is minimal with the suspension in its stiffest seeing, while the steering is communicative.
Economy & Environment
Despite its staggering performance the new M3 Saloon delivers a combined fuel economy of 34mpg and CO2 emisions of 194g/km – a 25 per cent improvement on the outgoing car. Sure, you’ll get nowhere near those figures if you drive the M4 in the way it deserves, but we should give kudos to BMW for the fact these numbers are achievable at all.
Equipment & Value
The new M4 Coupe is more expensive than the previous M3 Coupe by nearly £1,670, but you get a lot more for your money. It’s faster for a start, and comes with a bigger list of standard equipment, including 19-inch wheels, adaptive M suspension, heated front seats, folding wing mirrors, front and rear parking sensors and a carbon roof – all of which adds up to £3,915.
Of course, BMW will happily flog you all manner of optional equipment if you’ve any cash to spare. We’d recommend spending £825 on the M head-up display and, if you’re prone to extreme hoonery, the incredible M carbon ceramic brakes might be a useful extra – though the £6,250 asking price is a little steep.
We defy anyone that can afford those carbon ceramic brakes to get into trouble in an M4 Coupe, such is their ability to haul the car from ludicrous speeds to a standstill. If you do find yourself on an unavoidable collision course with something firm, you’ll be pleased to know the M4 is based on the current BMW 3 Series, which secured a five-star rating in Euro NCAP tests. Adult occupancy safety is rated at 95 per cent, while child safety sits at 84 per cent. Even pedestrian safety is an impressive 78 per cent.
There’s plenty of opportunity to get into trouble in one of these cars, but you’ll be well protected should the worst happen.
BMW’s hit a home run with the new M4 Coupe. It might not be an M3 by name, but it is a worthy successor to the BMW legend. It’s jaw-droppingly quick, handles beautifully and inspires confidence at every turn. It’s also extremely easy to drive slowly, proves reassuringly practical and is beautiful to look at.
It doesn’t come cheap but it makes its current-generation rivals (the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and Audi RS5 Coupe) look underpowered, slow and overpriced.