A worthy successor? |
Despite being a performance-oriented car, the M4 is still unmistakably a BMW.
I have the best job in the world. I regularly have the opportunity to put some of the world’s best, fastest, and most luxurious machines through the paces and take some great photos and videos of them. Last summer, I drove one of the last examples of the previous-generation (E92) BMW M3 and to this day I can’t stop raving about it. When BMW did away with the naturally-aspirated V8 in favour of a new twin-turbocharged 6-cylinder, I couldn’t help but wonder whether it would hold a candle to the outgoing car. I was given the keys to the 2015 BMW M4 painted in a polarizing Austin Yellow, and spent a week with it.
I live downtown Toronto; one of the biggest cultural and social melting pots in the country. This allows me to gauge what the general public’s reaction is to the latest automotive designs on the market. The M4 is easily one of the most attention-grabbing cars I’ve ever driven. Kids point and yell, car guys constantly honk and wave, and even regular non-afficiando people stop in their tracks to just gaze at the car. The Austin Yellow paint seems to be a hit or miss – I personally love it and so do other car enthusiasts, but others weren’t really fans. If it were my money, I’d opt for the Yas Marinas Blue that was the “press release” colour on the new M3.
Speaking of the M3; you may ask what the deal is with the new naming structure. BMW claims that even numbers are now coupés, and odd numbers are sedans. Therefore, the sedan version of this car soldiers on as the M3, whereas the coupé driven here gets the new M4 name. Of course, there are exceptions to this – BMW now sells a four-door version of the 4-series called the 4-series Gran Coupé. The styling of the new M4 is stunning; I love the way the car looks inside and out. It’s the perfect evolution of the previous-generation car, which was a looker as well. There are some neat details that clearly show that BMW pulled out all their best cards. For instance, the exterior side mirrors are beautifully sculpted and stand out.
Okay, so it’s sexy inside and out, but so is the regular 435i. What differentiates the BMW M4 from the “regular” lineup is the “M” badge, which signifies that it essentially breathes fire. The new engine, dubbed S55, is a twin-turbocharged 3.0L inline 6-cylinder. No, this isn’t a close relative of the one in the first-generation 335i. This motor is good for 425 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, and maximum horsepower is available between 5,500 and 7,300 rpm. Simply put, the M4 flies. There’s a tiny bit of turbo lag, but throttle response is immediate and it just takes off. Steering is very good, and the car goes where you point it without any issue. A tap on the throttle can induce oversteer at any given time, and the Michelin Pilot Super-Sport tires do an amazing job of keeping grip.
The BMW M4 (and M3) come with an optional dual-clutch transmission, but my tester was equipped with a 6-speed manual. This is the way I would have my car, so no complaints here. The clutch is heavy but very responsive, and the shifter is excellent. It’s not difficult for a proficient manual transmission driver to master driving this car. “M1” and “M2” drive modes had been set by the previous media outlet to my liking. I liked “M1” to be set for everything in maximum Sport modes, with all assists (and auto rev-matching) off. “M2” was my fuel-saving setting; putting everything in Comfort/Efficient with all assists on. In “M1”, the exhaust note of this car is simply intoxicating. Yes, it’s a bit artificial, but once you hear it fire up in a closed underground garage, the artificiality is all but forgotten.
Despite being a performance-oriented car, the M4 is still unmistakably a BMW. My tester was equipped to the tune of about $87,000 and came with all the niceties on board. No sunroof is available, but the sport seats are extremely supportive and well-bolstered. The full iDrive navigation suite is easy to use and pairs up to both Bluetooth and iPod nicely. Some nice interior touches I liked were the illuminated shift pattern on the shifter, and the illuminated “M” badges on the front seats. Details like these are great, as they essentially never let you forget that you ponied up the extra money for the correct car, and that there is value in it.
The biggest surprise for me with the 2015 BMW M4 was the fuel economy. Driving around town and on the highway with a light foot, it’s not difficult to keep the average below 9L/100km. The M4 is a sports car though, and it does have over 400 horsepower, so if your right foot becomes pedal-happy, the consumption can get into the 12-13L/100km range. Over my week-long evaluation, I averaged 10.1L/100km, a number I was more than happy with. When I was a teenager, the M3 was a car I dreamed about. I longed for one, and even though I’ve driven far more powerful cars, that longing never really went away. The new M4 is definitely a worthy successor, and after driving it, I want one even more.