Test Drive Notes Library
- Impressive engineering. We used to think that BMW made its M cars for that small percentage of wealthy nut jobs who had to have the best of everything; the most power, the most tenacious grip, the most Ms short of a Family Size bag of M&Ms. But maybe these cars are for the BMW engineers? Maybe the company just wants to keep them from getting bored making passenger vehicles. Maybe BMW just says, "OK, Gerhardt, I can see you’re getting edgy. See how much power you can squeeze out of this 3-Series engine. We’ll check back with you in six months.” The result is an impressive car to drive that accelerates and corners, we’d be willing to bet, better than any other car you’ve owned.
- Handling. It’s possible to unsettle this car, we suppose, but we weren’t able to do it. You point it into a turn at what seems like an unreasonable speed for the sharpness of the corner, and the M4 just sticks to the road and goes precisely where you point it. If you have access to such roads, where other humans in cars, on bikes, or on foot aren’t in the way to cause you to lose your license and your choice of color in coveralls except orange, you’ll be impressed with that the M4 can do.
- Quick. We drove the “slower” version of the M4, which comes with 473 horsepower in-line six twin turbo, and an increasingly rare six-speed manual transmission. The engine pulls impressively in any gear, with a great sound. Someone did research on the American male in the lab, and created a mechanical substitute for all that Low T medication. If you get the more powerful, 503 hp M4 Competition model, you can only get the 8-speed automatic transmission.
- Interior. Seats aside (see below), the interior is luxury-car-quality. The materials and switches feel good, the 10-plus-inch screen is large, bright, and fully up to date. The head up display has been taken up a notch here, and looks very crisp.
- Customizable. You can set the parameters for steering feel, suspension firmness and damping, brake pedal sensitivity, and even exhaust volume. It also allows you to turn off the electronic safety systems that absolutely save lives, and we fear for the young morons with more testosterone than driving skill who will lease an M4, turn the minders off, and wrap themselves around a tree. We hope it’s only a tree.
- Attention. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a young woman walking past a construction site, drive an M4 in day-glo Sao Paulo Yellow. Men will positively leer at you, locking eyes on you from the moment you enter their line of sight to when you leave it. By the way, if you’re not looking for attention from other men, fellas, this isn’t your car.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Carbon fiber seats. Unless you plan to drive this car on the track (and we know you don’t), avoid the optional carbon fiber racing seats. They have a four-inch lip on each side. That’s great for keeping you snugly in place while cornering at 150 mph. But on the other hand, the entire clientele in the Stop and Shop parking lot will be laughing at you as you try to fight your way out your $95,000 car. We’ll admit that we felt securely held in place in the seats, and they do give you the sense that this is not your run of the mill coupe. But pulling ourselves up onto the lip — like the edge of a hot tub — before being able to dismount and exit the car was not pretty. Get the regular seats. As a bonus, you’ll save a bunch of money.
- Twitchy. You could drive this car every day. It’s not a buck board like the Mercedes AMG. But the flip side of its precision is a firmness and twitchiness in its handling. The steering responds quickly. As does the accelerator. Both require regular input. Given how comfortable the M440i is, even with 90 fewer horsepower, you’ll have to decide if the extra raw power and prowess, and the 6-speed manual, are worth the comfort and livability you give up.
- Two door. BMW also makes a nearly identical M3 which adds two extra doors. For some people, the looks of the M4 coupe will win them over. But for anyone with a practical bone in their body, or a kid, client, or mother-in-law to cart around occasionally, the M3 is a far more practical choice.
- Gauges. BMW ditched their classic, precise looking gauges for a digital instrument panel that looks cheap to us, and not in keeping with the quality of the machine around it. We hope they give that some much needed attention soon.
- The BMW Options Tax. The M4 starts at $71,800. Add on a bunch of carbon fiber extras, including those $3,800 seats, and the price tag of our tester rang the bell at $97,645.
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