2018 BMW M4 Review

Nutcracker

You’d never crack peanuts with a sledgehammer. Why should you daily-drive a BMW M4?

This high-performance two-door is gross overkill for normal use, in fact, it’s almost completely wasted on the street. Short of owning a private Autobahn, where are you able to access even a fraction of its capability on the public tarmac, which is riddled with potholes, no-passing zones, distracted drivers and constabulary all too eager to cash in on your potentially reckless driving habits?

The BMW M4 coupe begs for an open racetrack, sunny weather and a tank full of high-octane petroleum distillates. Trips to a Starbucks drive-through or the grocery store are like asking Julia Child to microwave a TV dinner. Absolutely insulting!

Race-Bred Performance

To deliver motorsports-grade performance, engineers took a holistic approach with this machine and its four-door sibling, the M3 (and huskier brother, the M4 Convertible). Compared to these cars’ predecessors, they reduced weight, improved aerodynamics and of course installed a race-bred powertrain. Accordingly, this thoroughbred can get from zero to 60 in as little as 3.8 seconds.

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Helping enable that blistering acceleration are numerous features. For instance, the car’s roof is made of lightweight carbon fiber, it’s fitted with an active differential and, compared to the previous-generation M3 coupe, weighs around 176 pounds less (80 kg), though it still tips the scales at nearly 3,600 when equipped with the optional dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Mechanical Poetry

But the real magic is tucked neatly behind that iconic double-kidney grille. The M4 is motivated by a twin-turbocharged inline-six that churns out more power and A LOT MORE torque than its predecessor’s V8, which was rated at 414 and 295, respectively, though in spite of the pumped-up performance it does fall short in one area: sound quality. The old two-by-four was naturally aspirated, wailing like a banshee high on amphetamines when flogged. The F82 Bimmer is melodic in its own right, emitting a resonant sort of tune that’s at least partially enabled by a variable, twin-pipe exhaust system, but it’s still not quite as pleasing to the ear as that old V8.

With 3.0-liters of a piston-swept area, this straight-six provides 444 horses and 406 pound-feet of twist in Competition Pack-equipped models, plus 7,600 rpm to play with, an unusually high maximum speed for a force-fed engine and something that hints at its linear powerband. Goodies you can’t see include a forged crankshaft, magnesium oil pan, twin-wire arc-sprayed cylinder liners, a closed-deck block design for extra strength, variable valve lift and much more. But one under-hood goodie that’s prominently on display is the carbon-fiber strut-tower brace, which looks like an aerodynamic aid borrowed from a military fighter jet. Seriously cool.

As you might have expected, two transmissions are offered in the M4. This includes a standard six-speed manual, one with a dual-plate clutch and carbon-friction linings on the synchro rings for added durability. It’s also more than 26 pounds lighter than its predecessor. But our test car was equipped with the optional M dual-clutch automatic, a $2,900 upcharge. With seven ratios at its disposal, it delivers maximum performance and respectable fuel economy, 17 miles per gallon city (13.5 L/100 km) and 24 highway (9.9 L/100 km). Combined, it should return an advertised 20 MPG (11.9 L/100 km).

Luxury-Car Appointments

In spite of the M4 Coupe’s sporting intentions, its interior is buttoned down and richer than you might expect in such a speed-focused machine. Much of the dashboard and door panels are constructed of low-sheen, coarsely grained soft plastics that are squishy to the touch and highly premium. The carbon-fiber trim seems to glow all on its own. I was also smitten with its seatbelts, which have the M logo’s tri-color motif woven right in, a frivolous if amusing touch. Build quality is flawless.

SEE ALSO: 2017 BMW M240i Coupe Review

The front bucket seats, which in the car I tested were covered in a coarse-but-grippy fabric, were plenty comfortable and adjustable in myriad ways. Going with this standard seating material saves big coin; opting for cow skin will tack an additional $950 ($1,500 CDN) to the price tag, though the available Merino Leather, which is offered in numerous shades, will set you back a whopping $3,500 ($4,000 CDN).

Even though the M4’s body is quite rakish it’s surprisingly accommodating. The back seats are adult friendly, with ample legroom, though a touch more head-space for six-footers might be nice.

Leading the automotive industry, BMW’s wireless implementation of Apple CarPlay is as brilliant as it is convenient. Your iPhone connects to the vehicle in a flash while staying safely stowed, no need to fumble with a charging cable you probably forgot to bring.

The Drive

But back to what really matters with the M4, driving. Bury its treadle-style accelerator pedal and this high-performance coupe LEAPS ahead, whether you’re at highway speed or just taking off from a light.

Thanks to abundant torque that’s available anywhere the tachometer needle is pointing, this car is deceptively fast, suddenly you’re doing 80 miles an hour in a 55-zone and it only feels like driving about 40. The smoothness of its powertrain undoubtedly contributes to this sensation of speed, or, rather, lack thereof.

True to the breed, its inline-six is slicker than a tub of Vaseline thanks to perfect mechanical balance. The powerband is also incredibly linear, with no surging or sagging anywhere from idle to redline.

Of course, I’d still rather have three pedals, but the M4’s self-shifting gearbox is more than willing to play ball, banging off shifts in no time flat. But this is typical of the breed; most dual-clutch automatics can change gears in a heartbeat. What’s not, however, is refinement and BMW has provided a shockingly smooth transmission, one with no low-speed juddering or other bad habits that are, regrettably typical of DCTs.

One thing that’s nice about the M4 is how BMW allows you to adjust the steering, optional adaptive dampers and transmission shift behavior all independently of each other, so you can tailor the driving experience to your liking.

Providing easy access to your favorite settings are two M Mode buttons on the steering wheel spokes. Think of them as shortcuts that save your driving preferences. Get everything the way you like it, then press and hold one of these buttons for a few seconds until the car beeps. For instance, you can set M1 with everything in comfort mode for relaxed commuting and then make M2 your go-to button for easy access to sport settings on the weekend.

BMW engineers nailed the M4’s drivetrain but perhaps they could have spent more time fine tuning the steering. It’s sharp enough, with suitable weighting, but it feels completely synthesized, totally artificial. It’s just heavy and that’s it. There’s no magic here. A BMW M car should deliver much, much more.

SEE ALSO: 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Review — VIDEO

Comparatively, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio’s steering wheel is so much more engaging, coming alive in your hands. It’s just the rest of the car is going to fall apart in short order.

Brace for Impact!

OK, so, what’s the damage here? Well, the base price for an M4 Coupe is about 70 grand (or $ 86,049 CDN), but the example I tested went for $86,945 (about $106,744 CDN).

The beautiful Austin Yellow Metallic paint it was coated in cost an extra $550. The M Competition package added $4,750 ($6,500 CDN) to the bottom line, which gets you more horsepower and other enhancements. Our test car also had the $2,900 ($3,900 CDN) dual-clutch transmission. Apple CarPlay integration cost an absurd $300, plus wireless charging is an extra $500. C’mon, guys, these last couple items should be STANDARD in a luxury car. Finally, destination is $995.

But the single most expensive option was the M Carbon Ceramic Brake package. Skip it and you’ll instantly save $8,150 ($8,500 CDN). Unless you live across the street from Lime Rock or Willow Springs you probably don’t need this.

The Verdict: 2018 BMW M4 Review

After a week of testing, I found the M4 more cerebral than soulful. It’s a thinking man or woman’s sports car, perfect for someone with a bunch of acronyms after their last name, Ph.d., Esq., etc, well, maybe not that last one.

Yes, it’s fast, fun and unexpectedly livable thanks to a generously sized back seat, but BMW’s smaller M2 offers a purer driving experience for quite a bit less moolah.

SEE ALSO:BMW M2 Review – VIDEO

Perhaps my opinion of the M4 would change if I drove it on a track because as I mentioned at the top of this review, evaluating a car such as this on the street is a complete insult to its abilities. It should be used for crushing stones, not cracking nuts.

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