BMW M (for Motorsport) was initially created to help BMW’s racing program, which was very successful in the 1960s and 1970s. As time passed, BMW M began to supplement BMW’s vehicles portfolio with specially modified higher trim models, for which they are now most known by the general public. These M-badge cars traditionally include modified engines, transmissions, suspensions, interior trims, aerodynamics, and exterior modifications to set them apart from their counterparts.
The very first M badge product vehicle was the M1 an exotic mid-engine two-seater which was produced in very limited numbers from 1978-1981.
This week we are blessed to have the opportunity to drive one the latest M products the BMW M4 coupe for 2015. Recently BMW announced that all two-door vehicles will have an even number and all 4-door vehicles will be an odd number. So the lovers of coupe or convertible variants of former M3 models will have to now transition into the all new 4 series. However, to add some confusion into the mix there is a four door grand coupe variant of the M4 and the higher end coupe the M6.
No question the 4 series is a sexier model than any former 3 series. The 2015 4 Series takes the performance traits of the the former M3 Coupe such as track attack handling, decent acceleration and overall balance and raises the bar significantly. With a wider stance and lower center of gravity, 2-door versions of the 4 Series are the perfect partner if you enjoy throwing your car into a corner.
The 2015 M4 is chalk full of weight saving measures from a hollow carbon fiber driveshaft to painted carbon fiber truck lid and a beautiful full exposed carbon fiber roof. Pop the hood and you will see a carbon fiber chassis brace. Extensive use of pieces such as an aluminum hood and fenders delivers a car that’s about 176 pounds lighter than the previous M3 coupe, at just under 3,300 pounds.
This BMW is a high-tech master piece which more than lives up to the legends that preceded it.
Power comes from a 425-hp twin-turbo inline six-cylinder, mated to either a six-speed manual or a paddle-shifted seven-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive. My test vehicle had the hard core enthusiasts preference especially here in the USA, the traditional six speed manual gearbox.
The new-generation M car dropped its predecessor’s naturally aspirated 4.0-liter V-8 in favor of a quintessentially BMW straight six. BMW has affixed the “Twin Power” moniker to the all-new, M-developed engine; the name is applied to BMW’s gas and diesel turbocharged engines, and can refer to single, twin, or triple turbos, single or multiple dual-scroll turbos, or a turbo with variable inlet geometry. The M4 is fitted with a pair of Mitsubishi-sourced turbochargers.
The M4’s 3.0-liter unit, can rev up to 7600 rpm – quite a remarkable achievement for a turbocharged engine. The twin-turbo six-cylinder is rated at 425 horsepower from 5500 to 7300 rpm, while torque tops out at 406 lb-ft from 1800 rpm. Those are increases of 11 horses and 111 lb-ft of torque versus the V-8–powered M3. The standard six-speed manual automatically revs on downshifts. EPA fuel economy is rated at 17 city and 28 highway. The optional transmission is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. According to reports it delivers quicker shifts and better all around performance numbers along with better day-to-day drivability.
BMW also has significantly reworked the M’s underpinnings versus the regular 435i. The control arms are lighter and stiffer; the rear sub-frame is bolted directly to the body without any use of rubber elements. The M4 comes with an electronically controlled rear differential called Active M Differential, borrowed from the M5 and the M6. Eighteen and 19-inch wheels are offered, and they’ll are wrapped in 255/35 rubber up front and 275/35 in the rear. The M4 uses an entirely new electric steering system that offers the requisite driver-selectable modes of Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus. Carbon-ceramic brakes, the same as those found on the M5 and M6, and an adaptive suspension are available as options.
The M4 looks every bit as aggressive as a true high performance machine should appear. It has a wider track than the base 4-series, the front end is dominated by massive intakes, and the traditional power-dome is as muscular as ever.
Inside my load M4 was fitted with every option under the sun. The only option my M4 did not have was the pricey Carbon-ceramic brakes not worth the investment in my opinion unless you intend to do heavy track duty with the car.
Overall, the M4 is more refined as well as more luxurious than former M3 coupes. It is chock full of electronics, something purists may take offense with in an M vehicle.
Even on its softest setting, the suspension is firm. My wife a BMW fan, found the ride too hard to be a daily driver. The exhaust has an interesting note – a little tinny sounding to me compared to the former V8. Inside the car at lower speeds, the soundtrack is augmented by synthesized noise piped through the speakers, but to bystanders, the M4’s tailpipes spit a savage, racecar tune.
The M4 can get expensive from a base sticker price of $65,150 it can climb quickly with every box checked to $80,000 large.
If you are searching for a true track car that despite its stiff ride you can drive to work, you will love the M4. In my opinion, this is the best M small coupe to date. Now bring on the M6.