You don’t notice the extra 11 horsepower. In the grand scheme of things, they’re fairly inconsequential. But you do notice every single one of the extra 111 lb-ft torque. To sum up the changes between this new car and the high-revving V8 of its predecessor in one word: torque. It’s available early and often, thanks to the new twin-turbocharged straight-six engine beneath the power dome. When unleashed, it sings a totally new song. This is life behind the wheel of the new 2015 BMW M4.
This M4 comes equipped with a host of options. But there’s no time to test the Active Driving Assistant, heated steering wheel, or Harmon Kardon sound system. Today, it’s all about the drive of the new top-tier Four. Behind the wheel, the new seats are the definition of comfort and support, though they lack the range of adjustable thigh bolsters of the previous cars. The M4’s gear selector is a friendly reminder of how complicated BMW controls used to be. It, and the perfectly shaped paddles, indicate the presence of the latest seven speed double-clutch gearbox. A traditional 6-speed manual, now with rev-matching downshifts, is also available. Gazing forward through the windscreen, a color heads-up display sits just above the power dome. Below that, the simple dials are once again backed in gray, like the E46.
The M4 is designed to be lighter and stiffer than the old car it replaces. Both the new M3 and M4 utilize carbon fiber roofs and aluminum body panels. Those weight savings are lost with the optional moonroof and heavier DCT transmission. Driving an E90 M3 back-to-back with the F82 M4 on public roads, there was no discernible difference in weight or balance. One of the hallmarks of the M3 has been its duality. The M4 provides an even greater dichotomy between commuter car and track car. Like the outgoing car, everything is adjustable. The steering, suspension, gearshifts, throttle map, and traction control can all be adjusted independently. Even the heads-up display has a “performance” setting. And just as the old M3 had an “M” button to map these settings to, the new M4 has two. Left alone, the steering is lighter and the suspension is softer than the previous generation. In Comfort, the M4 rides much like a 335i in Sport mode. In my case, M2 turns everything up to Sport Plus. The car transforms.
BMW has made the M4 more vocal than its predecessor. The V8 was quiet at idle, but the combination of induction noise and exhaust bellow created a motorsport symphony. The M4 has gone full rock concert. At idle, the raspy 6 thunders off nearby structures. The quad exhaust snarls as the revs build and barks at every upshift, There’s a distinct sound for each turbo as they spool up independently, providing a sense of relentless acceleration the old V8 can’t match. Output peaks at 425 horsepower, but as we said, it’s the 406 lb-ft torque available at just 1,800RPM that makes the difference. Simply put, you won’t miss the extra thousand RPMs of the screaming V8. It might not have the same grace and sophistication of the old engine, but it does make it feel anemic. Especially as the new motor forces the electronic rear differential to keep the rear tires from breaking free. Even with a rolling start, you get pushed back into your seat as the rear end wiggles. This is the magic of torque.
When you get down to it, the old M3 felt very analog. The hydraulic steering was heavier, the suspension was stiffer, and the engine was very simple. The “old guard”, the BMW driver still rattling around in an E36, will decry this assessment. They’ll point out the electronic throttle, the electronic limited slip differential, and the onerous weight gain of the E90 M3. But I argue that it will be remembered fondly. The only M3 to have eight cylinders, the last M3 to be naturally aspirated, and the last M3 to be called just the M3. It’ll always be something special. But that time as passed. We live in an electronic world, and the new M4 is a part of it. It’s very digital. The electric steering is lighter, the suspension can be dialed back, and the engine is surrounded by a complex of intake, exhaust, and intercooler tubing. It’s softer and more livable. But at the same time, it is every bit as precise as the old car. The push of a button sharpens the car to a knife edge. The added benefit of more torque means it can be faster, more brutal. With a wider skillset, the M4 is more applicable. This is life behind the wheel of the new 2015 BMW M4.
Note: The BMW M4 was provided by Capital Cities BMW
|2015 BMW M4 Coupe
|Driver Assistance Plus||$1,900|
|M Double-clutch Transmission||$2,900|
|Adaptive M Suspension||$1,000|
|19″ Wheel (Type 437 M)||$1,200|
|Harmon Kardon surround sound||$875|
|As Tested MSRP||$79,450|
First Drive: BMW 428i xDrive