Advertising tag lines come and go with most fading from memory in nano seconds, but German luxury automaker BMW stumbled upon a grabber, with its ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ earworm.
Buy a Bimmer and enjoy the ride to work during designated scripted times (for those not remote-controlled from home) while tackling a closed-circuit racetrack during off-office hours. Our tester of the week, the M4 coupe, easily qualifies as a sports car, not just a coupe with sporty looks.
While at a passing glance the mid-sized M4 may resemble a classically-trained BMW 4-Series coupe; but look closer. The M prefix in M4 designates “Motorsports,” in effect a track-ready 4-Series and a product born of the company’s highly-tuned Motorsports subdivision. Just about every BMW ‘Series,’ coupe or sedan, includes an up-performance M avatar for those wishing to take the next step up. BMW’s Motorsports subdivision began at the track in 1972, and celebrates 50 years of furious fun in 2022.
For 2022, the two-door exclusive M4 boasts both a conventional hard top and the return of a fabric soft-top convertible. If eyeing the open top, it comes exclusively with BMW’s all-wheel drive technology (marketed as xDrive) and upscale Competition trim/tune with a starting price of $87,295.
No excusing for M4 commuters arriving late to any scheduled appointment as our hard top tester raced from zero to sixty in 3.4 seconds according to the BMW press release. The sole heart beating under hood is a returning twin-turbo inline six-cylinder with 24-valves promoting two distinct horsepower results depending upon the trim selected.
Base models deliver 473 horsepower while our ‘Competition’ tuned tester upped the ante, reaching 503 of effortless acceleration. Fuel economy rates average at best at 16 miles per gallon city and 23 highway in rear-drive editions (22 mpg when ordering xDrive). Premium fuel is recommended for optimal performance.
The magic of M4’s construction reflects an impressive, calming delivery of all these horses. Punch the pedal and results feel strong, satisfying, yet under control. It’s also one of a shrinking list of coupes promoting the old-school thrills and connection found with a tactile manual transmission.
But, that six-speed manual transmission is available only with the base trim while a ZF eight-speed automatic is available in base trims and standard in Competition. The eight-speed automatic shifter between front buckets follows a ‘Z’ pattern with ‘Neutral’ mid-point and reverse found to the upper left corner and drive lower right. A ‘Park’ button locates on the back side of the shift knob.
As with any self-respecting sports car, occupants find themselves sitting closer to the pavement with ground clearance at a tight 4.8 inches contrasting with 54.9-inches of overall height. The interior welcomes aboard optional carbon-fiber inlays on the dash, three-spoke steering wheel and lower center cup holder/transmission shifter region.
Many low-slung coupes provide unwanted challenges found with an overzealous wingspan when doors swing open. The M4 doors combine a lightweight structure with an attainable, reachable arch when extended and the driver ensconced inside. When outside, doors open with relative ease via strap-like body-colored handles, without unwanted poundage.
The reimagined front grille continues promoting the familiar blue and white circular medallion between a twin port kidney grille, but M4 ports get supersized reaching all the way down to the bottom frame. A long hood embosses two U-shaped imprints up front in line with each grille port. Crease lines form at the edge of narrow A pillars, continuing straight towards wrap-around headlight housing. Flared front fenders feed more fun while hardtops sport lightweight carbon fiber. The stout trunk lid sports a black, back-end fin-like mini spoiler lip.
Audible extras come compliments of a quad (dual branch) exhaust hitting just the right synthesized note for the symphonic twin turbo. If approaching home after dark, a muting button can be summed, but don’t expect total silence. At the other extreme, choosing Sport or Sport Plus drive modes pumps up the volume.
This week’s BMW M4 ‘Competition’ tester included xDrive and a $78,800 starting price. With base rear-wheel drive, expect a $72,995 beginning price point. European automakers enjoy piling on stand-alone and packaged options rather than a set number of trims with varying degrees of standard fare. The M4 is no exception with an available 15 stand-alone extras. The bottom line did not quite reach six figures ending at $95,845 including a $1,800 Executive Package (remote start, heated steering wheel, heads up windshield display), $800 parking assist, $350 for front seat ventilation, $950 for carbon fiber inside trim and $2,550 for comfy Silverstone/black leather seats.
Kudos to interior designers opting for a visually stand-out bright red circular electronic start/stop button conveniently located between the buckets rather than the lower dash, where the steering column could interfere. Front bucket seats swallow up their prey nicely with side bolsters firmly hugging hips and posteriors.
Steering wheel paddle shifters come standard with the eight-speed automatic, as with many sporty/plebian/ and sports vehicles. Coupled with BMW’s potent twin turbo, these manumatic-type on-demand gear shifters play the way originally designed and are not just for show. Drivers control forward transmission shifts one through eight sans a foot-clutch pedal resulting in inspired performance.
During past decades, luxury automakers have tinkered with high-tech advances that sometimes felt overly complex. BMW makes great strides forward with M4 designing multiple ways to interact and play with technology that reflect a user-friendly approach (rather than accessing every item through a finicky touchscreen). For example, the right-sized, 10.25-inch, high-resolution in-dash center screen is not only touch sensitive, but also commands via a circular dial between front buckets motivating an in-screen highlighter. For those technologically adventuresome, voice commands also serve as an option.
Sound volume gets controlled from a below-screen twist dial or secondary 3 O’clock steering wheel controls. Scrolling through radio/satellite stations takes place from the touch-screen itself, the push-sensitive circular dial, push buttons to the right of eight present buttons below screen or the steering wheel front. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Smartphone compatibility come standard allowing downloaded applications to play through the screen and audio system.
To the right of the automatic transmission selector resides a long column of push buttons for selecting and/or taming various functions (traction control deactivation, engine start/stop deactivation and a ‘setup’ choice for opting between comfort or sport selections among engine, chassis, steering and braking). It’s also where all-wheel drive Competition’s xDrive may be deselected to sample solely rear-wheel drive (one of three available drive modes).
When selected, BMW’s xDrive reflects a rear-wheel bias design, delivering grip to front wheels only when slippage gets detected through an electronically-controlled, multi-plate clutch. A third drive mode, 4WD ‘sport,’ directs a greater percentage of low-end torque to the rear, ideal when sampling a closed track loop.
The HVAC system monitors from a row of small buttons beneath the muti-function screen and a pair of vertical vents and above the sound system volume knob. Pop open the trunk and a rather measly 12 cubic feet of space awaits, although the design makes it seem quite roomy.
Row two is a tight sell, but not quite as obnoxious as a recently tested Lexus RC 350 coupe. Scooped out seat cushion in the two-person back also have residents situated close to the ground. Front buckets power forward slowly when tilting the backrest forward allowing access. Yes, adults can squeeze in if/when necessary, but smaller body types ride along with greater comfort.
Static back windows don’t power down, a disappointment to Schnauzer Abby always willing to share a puppy perspective. Instead, she just sauntered up front, sat on daddy’s lap and thrust her black nose onto the window frame for a sniff of the open air.
The M4 coupe and convertible also qualify for BMW’s extensive Ultimate Care maintenance program covering all dealer-performed scheduled maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. Four years of roadside assistance gets thrown in too. 2022 BMW M4
Price as tested: $95,845
Engine: Inline twin turbo six
Overall length: 189.1 inches
Overall width: 74.3 inches
Overall height: 54.9 inches
Wheelbase: 112.5 inches
Curb weight: 3,789 pounds
Fuel Economy: 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway
Curb weight: 3,979 pounds
Assembly: Dingolfing, Germany