BMW's performance department has been building enthusiast-oriented motorsport vehicles with the M badge since the 1970s. The M4 was introduced in 2014 to designate coupe and convertible models of the iconic M3 sedan. An all-new second generation was introduced in 2021 with new exterior styling, increased horsepower, and more standard features. As it rolls into 2022, BMW added an all-wheel drive option, digital instrument cluster and updated technology. The M4 is available exclusively as a two-door coupe or convertible. The base M4 coupe is available with a 3.0L twin turbo inline 6 that generates 473 horsepower coming from the rear wheels. The Competition model is available in either RWD or AWD with 503 horsepower coming from the same powertrain.
Prices for the M4 coupe start at $74,700 for the RWD base model and go up to a starting price of $82,700 for the M4 Competition xDrive (AWD) Coupe. Add in some options and it's possible for the M4 to top $110k. Convertible variants start at $89,700 and are exclusively offered with all-wheel drive in the Competition package. Competing performance-oriented coupes include the Audi RS 5, Chevrolet Corvette, Lexus RC F, Mercedes-AMG GT 4-door coupe, and the Porsche 718 Cayman S or GTS. I spent a week in a M4 Competition xDrive Coupe turning heads everywhere I went, including the school pick-up lines. It had an MSRP of $95,845 and here's what stood out...
Overall Exterior Style (+)
The M4 is a stunning car with 13 exterior colors to choose from and an array of wheel options to suit your personal taste. It has a sleek side profile with a traditional coupe roofline that seamlessly flows into the rear trunk. Slight character lines add some flare, overhangs are kept to a minimum, and its simplicity is attractive. Around back are horizontal LED taillights and a quad exhaust at the center of the rear diffuser. It has a wide, muscular stance with good proportions all around. Fenders are flared compared to the 4-Series and it features extended side sills. Together with the aerodynamic components of the front and rear bumpers they form a High-gloss Black band around the entire car. Up top is a roof made of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic. This extremely lightweight material lowers the cars' center of gravity, enhancing the agility.
Front End Style (-)
While the M4 has an overall good appeal, its controversial front end is hard for some to get past. I am, generally, not a fan of the extra-large vertical kidney bean grille but will say that it looks best on the M variants of the 4-series with its mean, expressive look. It certainly turns heads, but not necessarily for all the right reasons. It is a functional design that creates more airflow to cool the engine. After a week in a Santorini Blue one, the grille started to grow on me personally, but the general consensus from others was not as forgiving.
Wheels / Tires (+)
The Competition xDrive models are equipped with forged M light-alloy 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels wrapped in 275/35ZR19 and 285/30ZR20 non-run flat performance tires. The redesigned front axle geometry and a retuned steering ratio - from 15.0:1 to 14.6:1 - ensure that the all-wheel drive variants deliver the agility that the BMW M driver expects. The designs look fresh and match the car well. If you're a Midwest buyer, consider a set of all-season tires for winter driving and watch out for potholes in the summer.
Powering the M4 is a twin-turbocharged 3.0L inline 6-cylinder engine that makes 473 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque in the base models. Stats increase to 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque in the M4 Competition. Either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic are available, and all come standard with multiple M Drive modes to adjust your personal driving dynamics. Comfort, Sport, Sport+ are the primary mode selections, but the dynamics can be further configured beyond that with additional drive mode settings within the iDrive system. Other modes can be selected for efficiency, track driving, road driving, all-wheel drive and more all through a few buttons.
The M4 is fast with base RWD models reaching 0-60 in 4.1 seconds and the RWD Competition models hitting the mark in 3.8 seconds. For the quickest off the line acceleration, the Competition xDrive will go from 0-60 in 3.4 seconds and throw you back in the seats while the exhaust lets out a nice growl. The exhaust utilizes a dual-branch system that is tuned for performance and the sweet sound. It features electrically controlled flaps to adjust the sound levels by selecting Sport or Sport+ inside the M4 to turn up the intensity to match the increased dynamics of the car. An additional M Sound button allows the drive to reduce the engine note when desired and works in any of the drive modes.
The M4 remains true to its roots with road-gripping handling and the ability to take corners with speed. Despite all the power it generates, it's a comfortable car to control. Whether zipping around corners or punching the pedal on the highway, it's firmly planted to the pavement. Steering is direct and well-balanced as it tracks exactly where you want it to go. Speed-sensitive electronic assistance adjusts deliver engaging steering at all speeds. Its driving excitement allows the driver to push it to the limits with incredible control thanks to all the updated underpinnings and electronics.
The standard Adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled shock absorbers offers precise control with comfort and agility. The M integrated braking system offers two driver-selected settings for brake pedal feel. The M Traction Control system, part of the optional M Drive Professional, introduces a new integrated wheel slip limitation function of the Dynamic Stability Control system which can be adjusted through 10 stages based on the driver's preferences and needs.
Fuel Efficiency (+/-)
It arrived with a full 15.6-gallon tank that offered up around 390 miles of range. EPA estimates are 16/22/18 MPG city/highway/combined. Premium fuel is required. After a week of suburban driving in decent weather I averaged 19 MPG. These ratings are average for the class of vehicles.
Interior Technology & Layout (+)
Hopping inside, you'll find an amped up version of the 4-series interior with touches of carbon fiber, red paddle shifters, a red start/stop button, and M4 badging to give it a more aggressive, sporty feel. Behind the steering wheel is a digital 12.3-inch instrument display. The instrument cluster will change visually with each drive mode to show different kinds of information on a high-resolution screen. A range of data including coolant temperature, charge pressure, tire temperature and pressure and lateral and longitudinal acceleration can be displayed in the right- and left-hand areas of the instrument cluster. Above the cluster is a head up display that is projected to the windshield with clarity.
BMW Live Cockpit Professional is standard with a 10.25-inch high resolution touch screen that features new cloud-based BMW maps, wireless connectivity for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. The new iDrive 7 system allows interaction through voice control, touch screen, steering wheel controls, the iDrive controller, or gesture controls. I became very fond of the gesture controls which I discovered by accident. The system worked very well for me in turning the volume up/down, changing channels or pausing. Below the touchscreen are more standard climate control buttons that are intuitive along with a pair of air vents. And below that are the manual audio controls including a volume knob.
BMW also redesigned the center console which includes a "control island" with a traditional gear selector (or manual shifter), start/stop button, electric parking brake, hill descent control, and the BMW control dial for the touchscreen. A new Setup button on the center console provides direct access to the settings options for the seven powertrain and chassis settings previously mentioned. Other bonus features include a 360-degree camera, high resolution imagery, ambient lighting, drift analyzers, track driving visuals, g-force displays and more. The variety of control options allow the driver to use whatever style they prefer and overall, the system is intuitive and a huge improvement from the past models.
Seats / Comfort (+)
BMW M models receive newly developed heated M sport seats with Merino leather trim. The seats swallow the occupants comfortably with enhanced side bolsters and integrated head restraints. Aesthetically the seats feature an illuminated M4 model badge, M-specific perforation, contrasting color for the center section, and red/blue stitched seat belts. A new optional interior highlight are the electric front M Carbon bucket seats. Ventilated seats and heated steering wheel with custom stitching are also available.
There is plenty of head, leg, and shoulder room up front. The power adjustable seats allow the driver to find a seating position with good visibility. The seating layout is a 2+2 design with accommodations for two passengers in the back. The back seats offer reasonable legroom, but head room will be tight for taller passengers. The rear seats also feature prominent side bolstering to keep passengers snuggly in position as the M4 whips around corners.
Interior Color Options (+)
From mild to wild, BMW has you covered with the interior color selection. Much like the rich exterior palette, BMW offers sixteen different interior color /material packages. My test vehicle had a more standard Silverstone/Black leather combination that worked well with the blue exterior. Other non-traditional options you might consider include Yas Marina Blue/Black, Kyalami Orange/Black, Fiona Red/Black, Fjord Blue/Black, or Tartufo (Coffee-like color). Standard black and white are also available. Note that the Full Merino leather options are a $2,550 upgrade.
Cargo Capacity (-)
The M4 is built for the track, not the long road trip. Trunk capacity is 12 cubic feet of cargo space and includes two side pockets. A power trunk is available, and the opening is fairly decent. The rear seat backs also fold forward for extended space if needed. While this space is unimpressive compared to many vehicles, it is better than many competing models such as the Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe, Lexus RC-F, and Audi RS5 Coupe.
Safety & Driver Assist Features (+)
An expanded range of advanced driver assistance systems enhance both comfort and safety. BMW's standard Active Driving Assistant includes lane departure warning, speed limit information, active blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear collision preparation. An updated Driving Assistant Professional package option includes active cruise control with stop& go, extended traffic jam assistant, active lane keep assist, active blind spot detection, evasion aid, and emergency stop assist. The active cruise control with traffic jam assist was a nice and easy to use feature while sitting in low-speed Chicago traffic. Drivers could let the car manage the stop and go under 20 MPH without much effort. The optional Parking Assistance package can identify parking spots to the left or right and steer the car into the parking spot. The Surround View with 3D view gives a top-down view of the car and its surroundings which can also be accessed remotely by the BMW ConnectedDrive app. Also standard are automatic front seat belt tensioning which hug the driver / passenger from top to bottom for further safety reassurance. The driver focus and fatigue alert will also sense waning focus such as distracted drivers or hands off the steering wheel.
The BMW M4 is a true performance car with deep motorsport roots. The latest version is refined in all the right ways with a focus on function over flare. The M4 is powerful, controlled and engaging to drive with a nice sound to support it. The updated interior appropriately works in wireless technology without much confusion. It has a look all its own, especially that front end... but I have a feeling more drivers will be staring at the back as the M4 swiftly passes by.
First Impression Summary:
Test Vehicle: 2022 BMW M4 Competition xDrive Coupe
Powertrain: 3.0L TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder
Exterior Color: Santorini Blue
Interior Color: Silverstone/Black Merino Leather
Options: Santorini Blue ($4,500), Merino Leather ($2,500), Driver Assistance Pro Package ($1,700), Parking Assistance Package ($800), Executive Package ($1,900), M Drive Professional ($900), M Seat Belts ($950), M Driver's Package ($2,500)
MSRP as tested: $95,845 (With Destination & Delivery)