For nearly $110K, buyers have a lot of options for a 2+2 sports coupe.
Who could have predicted that 2021 would be the year of sports cars? The latest generation of the Subaru BRZ, Nissan 400Z, and Chevrolet Corvette have collectively taken the spotlight back from crossovers and SUVs so far this year, and BMW made their presence known with the latest rendition of their performance icons, the M3 and M4. We borrowed their most athletic and track-ready version, the 2021 BMW M4 Competition, to determine whether the enthusiasm is justified.
To say the all-new BMW M3 and M4 (codenamed G80 and G82 respectively) know how to make an appearance is an understatement. Most people noticed the aggressive M4 Competition right away, and formed an opinion about the look of its signature kidney grille. The fascia design certainly takes a bit of getting used to though we must admit the oversized front grille looks much more suited to the aggressive body styling of the M4 than on the M440i xDrive.
Looking past the controversial front fascia and opinions about the M4 Competition’s styling become overwhelmingly positive. The chiseled body and stance look more athletic than any M3s and M4s of the past, and the standard staggered bi-colour double-spoke wheels add more sophistication to the design. Its side silhouette features perfect proportions for a 2+2 sports coupe and there are plenty of carbon fibre bits to contrast against the rich Black Sapphire Metallic paint as part of the optional M Carbon Exterior package.
The menacing all-black exterior also serves as a blank canvas to show off the M4 Competition’s extravagant interior design. Our tester was built with the gorgeous Kyalami Orange and black two-tone interior overlaid with optional carbon fibre accents, which was a bigger conversational piece throughout the week than its external appearance. There is no mistaking this as anything but a high-performance car thanks to those electric front M Carbon bucket seats that are beautifully designed and are aggressively bolstered.
These M Carbon bucket seats are perfect for track driving as they do a great job counteracting the G-forces, but they are a bit too firm and uncomfortable for the daily commute. Getting in and out also requires a bit of body contortion but they are worth the money over the standard M sport seats if track driving is a priority. The restraint on the M Carbon bucket seats can be dismantled to accommodate helmet use and the seat structure also enables the use of optional multi-point seat belts.
We had an opportunity to try the 2021 BMW M4 Competition on the track and it proved to be natural with its balanced chassis, predictable handling, and effortless power. On the street, the 503-horsepower M TwinPower Turbo inline-six engine (S58) is just as competent and borderline too powerful. The 479 lb-ft. of torque gets delivered with a fury at 2,750 RPM, bringing the M4 Competition to every speed limit without even the slightest hesitation.
The lightning-fast eight-speed M Steptronic transmission is the only available gearbox for the Competition models, launching the M4 from a standstill to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds and all the way to a top speed of 290 km/h if equipped with the optional M Driver’s Package. Power is delivered to the rear-wheels for the early batch of M4 Competitions, with optional M xDrive all-wheel drive later this summer. Fuel economy is a normally a second thought for 500-horspower-plus cars but the M4 Competition impressed us with its 12.9L/100km consumption figure over mixed commute with zero effort in preserving fuel along the way.
The 2021 BMW M4 Competition’s steering is incredibly accurate which was a vast improvement over the previous F82 generation M4. Unfortunately, it’s still devoid of road feel which is a byproduct of modern-day electric steering systems, but the M4 Competition goes where you point it to. Its chassis is extremely responsive; there is minimal body roll in the corners and the car will happily launch out of corners at speeds faster than one could imagine of.
Oversteer can be achieved but the M4 never feels out of control. Speed is so easily achievable even in the most compliant setting, which puts every driver’s self-restraint to the test on public roads and the M4 Competition is best to be enjoyed when driven to the limit in a track setting.
When the fun needs to stop, you can rely on the standard M Compound brakes and the signature blue metallic six-piston front calipers to safely pull the M4 to a halt. Brake feel is excellent, and there are even two brake pedal sensitivity levels to choose from. Those who demand the ultimate braking performance out of their vehicles (and with deep pockets) can opt for the $9,500 M Carbon Ceramic Brake for greater fade resistance and thermal stability.
The M4 Competition is surprisingly comfortable in the street even with the electronically controlled dampers set to the sportiest setting. By comfortable, we do not mean plush, as the M4 Competition still rides very firm for a passenger car. However, BMW’s engineers have done a great job in ensuring that occupants are never too negatively impacted by road imperfections. The M4 also struck a fine balance with its sound deadening efforts, allowing just the right amount of the engine and exhaust note into the cabin without letting too much unwanted road noise through.
Pricing of the 2021 BMW M4 Competition starts at $89,100, a $4,000 premium over the standard M4 Coupe. Our sample as tested includes the $19,500 Ultimate Package that adds the M Driver’s Package, Head-Up Display, M Carbon Bucket Seats, Automatic Trunk, M Carbon Exterior Package, Parking Assistant Plus with Surround View monitoring, BMW LaserLight headlights, and a host of other goodies, and the $895 Black Sapphire Metallic paint job, bringing our as-tested total to $109,495.
For nearly $110K, buyers have a lot of options for a 2+2 sports coupe. There is the M4’s archrival Mercedes-AMG C 63 S that carries immense theatre, the gorgeous Lexus LC 500 Coupe if a luxurious grand tourer is what you are searching for, and the base Porsche 911 Carrera technically starts at $115,000 if you can live without most modern comfort features. However, if you are seeking a capable track monster with optional race-ready features from factory that can also take you to work, the 2021 BMW M4 Competition is as good as it gets.