- New dress, traditional technique
- The front design of the new BMW M4 is causing a lot of discussion. The technology remains more conventional.
- The experience is crucial
- BMW M4.
- BMW M4 coupe
New dress, traditional technique
First test drive in the new BMW M4. The sports coupe caused controversy with its design. When it comes to technology, however, the Bavarians remain true to their tradition.
The technology remains more conventional.
The front design of the new BMW M4 is causing a lot of discussion. The technology remains more conventional.
Image: David Kunzler
“BMW stands for Bavarian Motor Works. That’s why the engine comes first, the car is built around it,” said ex-BMW designer Chris Bangle in a recent interview. In this respect, the controversy surrounding the design of the new 4-series from Munich should actually be of secondary importance. Especially when it comes to the M4 – the sporty top model of the series, which will officially hit the streets in April.
In this case, the “M” stands for motorsport – and is intended to bring maximum driving pleasure to the road. While BMW is concentrating more and more on electric drives and the best possible efficiency for the other models, the developers of the M models still seem to have an exceptional status. Because while the look of the M4 certainly opens a new chapter in BMW history, the sports coupe remains technically very conventional – which puristic car fans definitely take as a compliment.
Under the hood, as before, is an in-line six-cylinder engine with a displacement of three liters. Doubly turbocharged but devoid of hybrid support. That alone is a rarity for a new model in 2021. Just as rare is the opportunity to get the M4 with a classic, manual 6-speed manual transmission – that will also please the purists.
The experience is crucial
The fact that manual transmission is becoming increasingly rare is not only due to the significantly higher level of comfort that an automatic transmission brings to everyday life. A modern automatic transmission makes the car significantly more efficient than a manual transmission. In addition, modern double clutch or automatic torque converters shift gears much faster than you could ever do with a clutch and shift lever – this also makes the car faster. So there are no longer any objectively relevant reasons for the manual transmission; only the lower costs make them the first choice in the small car segment. In the BMW M4, which costs at least 115,500 francs, the price only plays a minor role. Here you order the handset to experience driving even more consciously. Because that’s what this car is all about.
Image: David Kunzler
You don’t buy the M4 to get from A to B as efficiently as possible. You buy it to enjoy the way in between. Compared to its predecessor, the engine is almost 50 hp more powerful – despite stricter exhaust gas regulations and now mandatory petrol particle filters. What is particularly remarkable, however, is not the sheer power that the engine delivers, but the way in which it does it. The maximum torque of 550 Nm, which is untypical for a turbo engine, is only available from 2650 rpm, but then remains constant up to over 6000 rpm. The engine thus builds up power evenly, as one would expect from a classic naturally aspirated engine.
In combination with the crisp manual transmission, this makes a very confident impression – and also allows lazy shifting in high gears. In this way, consumption can gradually be reduced to less than 9 l/100 km. In times of e-drives and alternative drives, this is undoubtedly high consumption. But for many customers, the M4 should be a hobby vehicle that doesn’t have to cover hundreds of kilometers every day. Above all, however, it could become a classic and contemporary witness, especially with the classic manual transmission. One of the last sports coupes to come onto the market with a pure combustion engine and manual transmission – and to a certain extent represents the pinnacle of this technological development.
The talents of the M4 are also well developed when it comes to driving characteristics; the power of the engine goes exclusively to the rear wheels, but variants with all-wheel drive will follow. But the M4 with rear-wheel drive is an excellent example of why BMW has been able to position itself as a sporty brand for years: the steering is wonderfully direct and gives the driver a lot of feedback without being affected by drive influences. The driving behavior is correspondingly logical and controllable – as long as the driver knows where the power is going.
Thanks to the modern control systems, including a traction control that can be adjusted in ten stages, the rear-wheel drive car is free of pitfalls and surprises anyway.
What is more surprising is the improved driving comfort compared to its predecessor. At low speeds, the suspension is still very firm, but on the motorway there is no reason to complain – as long as the car is set up correctly in the extensive setting menus. Almost everything can be adjusted in several stages on the touchscreen, from the chassis to the steering and the response of the engine and brakes to the engine sound and ESP.
Definitely too much choice for the normal driver who just wants to get from A to B. For those who see the new M4 as a hobby and perhaps the last contemporary witness of an era, an ingenious gimmick. The same applies to the optional carbon bucket seats with high side bolsters. They are not recommended for everyday use; but the right choice for a winding exit or a trip to the racetrack.
BMW M4 coupe
Engine: R6 biturbo petrol, 2993 cc 3
Power: 480 hp/550 Nm
Drive: RWD, 6-speed manual
trunk volume: 440L
0-100km/h: 4.2 sec.
Consumption plant (WLTP): 9.1L/100km
Price: from 115,500 francs
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