The new M4/M3 were always going to be controversial with the engine changes. So has the latest M car lost its way or can it still hold its on with the best of the Bavarian pedigree and against the latest offerings from Audi’s RS line and Mercedes AMG.
The elephant in the room – it sounds shit doesn’t it?
The previous E92 M3 had that amazing V8 that revved like a VTEC and sounded like a Nascar when you got above 6000rpm. Due to the ever stricter EU regulations, the latest M3/M4 has a downsized from a 4.0 V8 to a 3.0 straight 6 with the addition of a couple of turbos. Only downside of the twin turbo set up is the exhaust note isn’t great. Especially coming from the previous V8 M3 like I did. Yes it sounds loud when you boot it but there isn’t roar you get like in the new C class AMG which is also turbo charged. In fact I’d argue the baby M135 sounds a lot nicer.
Tell me it’s fast…
…it’s fast. Very fast. The straight line speed of this thing is immense. 60 comes up in 4.1 seconds and it’ll hit 100mph from a standing start in 8.6. For reference the previous V8 M3 managed it in 9.4 seconds and that wasn’t a slow car.
Power is up by 10bhp to around 430bhp – although it’s widely acknowledged that these make around 450bhp leaving the factory. The small increase in power is forgiven when you look at the 406lb/ft torque that comes from the addition of the turbo chargers. You get this power low down at 1800rpm so there is virtually no turbo lag – in fact most people would think it was a naturally aspirated.
Turbo charging may have changed the sound track of the car for the worse – but it’s made the M4 one of the fastest coupes on sale today. Any gear and at any speed this thing pulls like a train. I’ve had the traction control come on in 5th such is the power of this car.
Is it going to kill me in the wet?
Pretty much all the suspension components are bespoke to the M4 rather than using the off the shelf 4 series stuff. The adjustable dampers are great as you can set the car to ride as hard or as soft(ish) as you want by just pressing a button. Although the ‘Sport Plus’ damper setting is best reserved for smooth tracks only as it’s very stiff for UK roads.
You can throw this car into pretty much any corner at any speed and you’re still going to able to control it. Sure you can get the tail out if you want to play a bit but its all civilised. The 3 setting DSC lets you pick your driving style depending on your mood. The middle DSC setting is ideally as it allows the back end to break free but will stop it coming all the way round and spinning the car.
Don’t get me wrong, if it’s anything but bone dry leave the traction control on unless you have taken your brave pill. Any form of aggressive pedal action will see the back end come lose. It’s relatively easy to control but your fellow road users might not appreciate you correcting the slide during the morning commuter – let’s save that for the Audi RS drivers who appeared to have stolen the BMW ‘dickhead driver’ moniker from us.
Is it comfy?
The interior is a big improvement on the previous generation. A great choice of leather and carbon fibre trims, fantastic one piece seats and that traditional M sport wheel with contrast stitching make the M4 a pleasant place to sit.
The adjustable dampers means you can have the car as stiff or soft as you like. Ok even in ‘soft’ mode they are still a bit harder than most other cars but its not uncomfortable.
Widescreen sat nav and the optional HUD make city driving as painless as it’s going to get. The backseats can fit 2 adults and you have your own climate control, but you wouldn’t want to spend hours in there.
Is it going to bankrupt me?
Depending how crazy you go with the option list you can spend between £58k to £70k, more if you spec the £5k carbon ceramic brakes. Mine came in just shy of £68k but the LED lights and full leather accounted for most of that.
Buying a car like this you aren’t going to care too much about the fuel economy, but you’d be pleasantly surprised with how many miles you can get out of a tank of Shell Optimax. Over the last 9000 miles I’ve averaged 24mpg with some spirited driving – which is the more than I was getting out of my old M3.
Servicing is going to cost about £2000 for the first 3 years of ownership if you use the main dealer – which I assume you will as I’d hate to sell one of these with ‘Bobs Budget Tyres’ stamped all over the service book.
Replacing the Michelin Pilot Sport 2’s will cost you about £240 a corner. But they don’t wear as quickly as you’d think due to the great handling and grip.
Should I buy one?
The M4 carries on the M tradition of been able to run the kids to school, do the shopping then do a 7:52 lap of the Nürburgring. Leave all the settings in soft mode and you can drive round town with comfort and ease. But set everything to ‘M’ mode and it turns into a beast …an utter beast.