2015 BMW M4 Convertible Quick Spin [w/video]
EngineTwin-Turbo 3.0L I6
Power425 HP / 406 LB-FT
0-60 Time4.4 Seconds
Top Speed155 MPH (limited)
Curb Weight4,055 LBS
Cargo13.1 CU-FT (max)
MPG17 City / 26 HWY
As Tested Price$90,670
Whether it's an E46, E93, or the new F83 M4 model, I just love the idea of a droptop M car. It kind of goes back to my Lexus RC F review, where I posit that most consumers buy a car like this solely for the image. To the point of this car, if you're opting for a convertible, you're boldly throwing out any pretense that you bought this car for its performance. It's a different and far grander indulgence than something like a droptop Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, or even a Corvette, and that's especially the case with the new M4, as I found out after a week at the wheel.
- Anyone that's listened to me on the Autoblog Podcast knows I've been none too kind about the state of BMW's turbocharged M cars. In effect, they're too easy to drive. In older models, the narrow power band meant you needed to always keep an eye on the tach, lest you fall into a weak zone. But because today's turbocharged M engines are so damn torquey, you can simply mash the throttle, regardless of engine speed or gear, and zoom forward. That's mostly the case here, although with a 7,500-rpm redline, the M4 at least maintains the illusion that you have to keep the revs up.
- Power delivery is fast and immediate, capable of catapulting the M4 towards the horizon at even half throttle. But more than the brutal power delivery, this latest M entertains with a strange but familiar singing voice. It's an almost feral, straight-six howl, particularly high in the rev range. But because of the single-scroll turbochargers and today's sound-tuning sorcery, the noise here is far richer and complex than what you'd get in a naturally aspirated M car, like the old E46. The turbos hiss and spit, and wide-open-throttle upshifts come with a cackling snap from the quad-tipped exhaust.
- Despite my belief that M cars' manual transmissions are generally pretty lousy these days, the M4's gearbox is far better than what you'll find in an M5. The clutch is more forgiving than in the larger sedan, too. With a broad catchpoint and a linear action, it feels natural and intuitive to work. Pair that with a throttle response that is reasonably sharp and progressive, and you get a gearbox that a relative novice would have no issue living with. It's primed for those with a more aggressive driving style – the pedals are properly situated for heel-toe downshifting, while owners have a choice of automatic rev matching or the old-fashioned DIY style, which is fairly easy here.
- When did BMW forget how to tune its steering? In what's become a routine gripe with new Bimmers, the M4's steering just isn't up to snuff. The way the weight increases just doesn't feel natural. It's certainly not linear, especially at low speeds. At higher speeds, there's almost too little weight to the steering, while feedback is basically absent. While some might rush to blame the switch to electric assistance rather than old-school hydraulics, EPAS systems are common enough now, even in performance applications, that BMW's failing here is inexcusable.
- My tester has the optional adaptive M suspension, a $1,000 option that offers three different suspension settings. But even this sophisticated chassis tuning can't make up for the added body flex that comes with chopping off the roof. The M4 'Vert doesn't feel particularly sharp on turn in, and it rolls more than I expect an M car to. In everyday circumstances, the ride feels poised and agile without being uncomfortable, but when you're pushing, the droptop's dynamic loss is apparent.
- Also, this thing has $8,150 carbon ceramic brakes, with gold-painted calipers. Honestly, unless you're planning on track driving regularly, it's best to just avoid the expense, especially as like most CCBs, they tend to screech and squeal unless they've been thoroughly exercised. That complaint aside, these stoppers have a natural pedal effort that makes them easy to live with.
- The M4 Convertible starts at $73,495. This one costs $90,670. Credit that to the $3,500 Executive Package (heated steering wheel, comfort access, rear-view camera, head-up display, park distance control, and Mercedes AirScarf-like neck vents), $1,900 Lighting Package (LED headlights with automatic high beams), the aforementioned brakes, the $1,000 adaptive suspension, $1,200 19-inch wheels, an $875 Harman/Kardon stereo, and the $550 Silverstone Metallic paint.
Especially these days, M cars are pretty overt about prioritizing style over straight-up performance. In that way, the droptop M4 keeps to the trend, emphasizing extroverted features, like blistering straight-line performance, a sonorous exhaust note, and flashy carbon-ceramic brakes. The areas it comes up short in, meanwhile, are only the kind of things that will be noticed by true enthusiasts – lackluster steering and a softer-than-preferred suspension setup. But I don't think the real car guys are the ones buying the M4 Convertible anymore. Thinking about it that way, you can't really blame this car for its failings.
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