2014 BMW M4 road test review | Mean and sorta green
EVEN the greenies can raise a smile when within the confines of this racy coupe.
In fact, it's hard not to giggle with excitement when getting behind the wheel of BMW's prestigious M4.
One of the best cars we drove in 2014, it reeks of fun and pleasure.
Yet there are some wholesale changes to the famed machine. First there's the name … while previously known as the "M3", the new nomenclature is part of BMW's move to even numbers for convertibles and coupes, while hatches, sedans and wagons wear odds.
And the squeeze on emissions and efficiency has also seen a change in powerplant. No longer is there an eight cylinder heartbeat pounding within this small shell. Nope, it's a twin-turbo V6 which actually makes it quicker with an improved power spread.
It's also lost about 80kg of pork from its platform, courtesy of many aluminium parts as well as a carbon fibre roof for a leaner kerb weight.
Prices rose slightly with this new model, but BMW has also added a heap of new kit too in the process.
Racy mainstream is the theme within. Like some classy lingerie, the cabin is still mainstream BMW but is adorned with carbon fibre and leather trimmings.
Look closely and the red and blue stitching of the steering wheel is a tribute to the hallow M badge.
Those with a knowledge of Beamer interiors will find a familiar feel, and just because it's a performance car doesn't mean it's been stripped of all the good gear.
The iDrive system operated by a central circular knob is the key to all things found within the 22.3cm colour screen.
Sports front seats offer brilliant support, with a button enabling occupants to be hugged tighter for twisty duties or released for highway sojourns.
On the road
This is a monumentally different car from its predecessor: more technologically-advanced, more powerful and more controllable. Whether that means more fun is debatable.
Power rises eight kilowatts to 317kW, but it's the massive pulling power that jumps from 400Nm to 550Nm. Jump on the right pedal and there's no doubting it can reach the claimed 0-100kmh sprint in 4.1 seconds (with launch control).
Sounding more like Jimmy Barnes than Barry White, the M4 hammers like a chippie on No-Doz.
Exceptional rigidity makes for amazing fun at every rip of the steering wheel, made easier with the use of driver aids such as corner braking control, dynamic braking control, three DSC modes (comfort, sport and sport-plus) and our favourite MDM.
M Dynamic Mode encourages the rear end to step out with precision, which just requires a prod of the throttle to bring things back under control with the assistance of the custom Michelin tyres.
You can adjust the steering and suspension feel simply by pressing some console buttons, and also save your preferred settings via two steering wheel-mounted buttons.
On the sportiest of setting the M4 is rightfully firm, yet in comfort mode it is surprisingly compliant for when you are behaving yourself.
What do you get?
Basics include 19-inch alloys, front and rear parking sensors along with cameras for reversing and top view, cruise control, headlights which corner with you, carbon fibre roof, heated front sports seats, 600 watt Harman/Kardon sound system with USB input, digital radio and sat nav.
There are a heap of options, and surprisingly not standard are the likes of automatic parking (although we'd suggest anyone buying this model can steer reasonably well), head-up display and lane departure warning.
Key rivals are the soon-to-be updated Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG ($159,500), Audi RS5 ($156,400) and now the new Lexus RC F ($147,500).
Achieving about 10 litres for every 100km, we were relatively pleased with that fuel consumption considering our behaviour.
The BMW servicing inclusive packages are not available on M models, so be prepared for maintenance to be hefty.
With four seats and a tight back seat, it's not quite family motoring. Although getting into the rear is relatively easy courtesy of the big side doors and seats which allow decent space for entry and exit.
Boot space is pretty reasonable, and the back seats do fold 60-40 so you can slot in furniture or other bulky items.
While the M badge says it all to the aficionados, even the punters can respect the big five-spoke alloys, bulging bonnet and sleek silhouette.
While some fans may deride the new technology it makes the M4 easier to drive fast.
That too could be an issue for some, and you really need track days to make the most of this wonderful car otherwise the lure of its ability can be too much around town or on the highway.
What matters most
What we liked: Outstanding fun, ability to step the rear end out with control, outrageous sprinting ability.
What we'd like to see: The V8 growl back, regular race track time, head-up display as standard equipment.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty. BMW has condition-based servicing, but intervals are usually annual or 15,000km.
Model: BMW M4 Coupe.
Details: Four-seat rear-wheel drive two-door coupe.
Engine: 3.0-litre twin- turbocharged six-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 317kW @ 5500rpm and peak torque of 550Nm @ 1850-5500rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed manual or seven-speed double-clutch automatic.
Consumption: 8.8 litres/100km (combined average, manual); 8.3 litres/100km (auto).
CO2: 204g/km (manual); 194g/km (auto).
Performance: 0-100km in 4.1 seconds.
Bottom line plus on-roads: $166,900.