Our tester is loaded up with a number of options. The $4,750 M Competition Package adds adaptive suspension, 19-inch wheels and black trim on the exterior. Other options include carbon-ceramic brakes, a heads-up display and the dual-clutch transmission.
Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: I would never buy a car this color, Austin Yellow. Otherwise, I was charmed in many ways by the BMW M4, even if it has some shortcomings. I drove a similarly equipped Audi RS5 the night before and preferred the styling inside and out to the BMW. I also think the Audi’s driving experience is a bit better. The M4 felt a touch rougher. At low speeds it was a little uncomfortable with disconcerting gear hunting. To get to the point, I’d rate the RS5 a bit ahead of the M4. A-minus for the Audi, B-plus for the Bimmer. I bet they’re comparable on a track.
That being said, I’d look long and hard at the M4 if I were in the market for this kind of sports car. BMW’s coupes have a dynamic and a presence that is singular and engaging. The steering, which I usually tuned to Sport or Sport Plus, is solid. It’s the sharpest of this car’s quick reflexes. The M carbon ceramic brakes are tight — be careful — jab them too quickly and you’ll be pulled forward in the seat. On the back straight of the M1 Concourse in Michigan, the esses of New York’s Monticello or another track that requires strong braking, I bet they’d save my butt. The 3.0-liter TwinPower six feels potent, sounds grumbly and has plenty of firepower. I was less enamored with the double-clutch gearbox, but hey, that’s the way the world works these days.
The voluptuous styling is well-proportioned and makes a statement. I like the RS5 and Mercedes-AMG C63 a bit more for their aggressive use of angles and chrome. Objectively, those are more interesting designs. Personally, I like the M4.
That’s my analysis of this segment. The Audi and Mercedes grade out better — but I think I’d put my cash on the M4 base on personal preference.
Associate Editor Reese Counts: Every single time I get out of an M3 or M4, I’m left a little cold. Don’t get me wrong, they’re both fast and capable machines, but they don’t get my blood pumping like some other cars in this segment. Nearly everything about it feels a notch below the competition. There are some high points — I like the seats, instrument cluster and the fact that you can get a manual — but it falls short in other areas.
I really enjoy inline-six engines, but this one feels a bit lackluster. It has power, but it doesn’t rev and rip like some of the less-powerful variants do. The exhaust note is more distorted guitar than fine-tuned sting quartet. The steering is fine but not particularly talkative. The ride is too firm, even in the comfort setting. And the entire driving experience is highly dependent on the multitude of settings. It feels heavy, too. The steering and suspension don’t do a great job of hiding the car’s weight.
It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s that I just don’t love it. It’s easy to get the tail out, but I can’t take a corner with the same speed or confidence as I can with other cars. The brakes are powerful but feel ill refined. All that said, the M2 and M5 are fantastic, so I’m hoping the next-gen M3 and M4 return to greatness.
Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale: Though I loved the Austin Yellow paint on our BMW M4 tester, my very first driving impressions of the car weren’t brilliant. Pulling out of the garage, I could tell the steering was seriously numb, and the first few streets I drove along revealed that the car was seriously stiff even in the softest settings. I was worried it was going to be yet another super quick car that wasn’t actually very pleasant to drive.
But as I fiddled with settings and racked up more miles, I quickly warmed up to the M4. The engine is very responsive and makes an amazing howl when switched to the sportier settings. It loves to rev. It builds RPM like its life depends on it. And even though the ride is pretty rough, the flip side is that the car changes directions a split second after you thought about turning. It’s just such a quick and eager thing.
As for the rest of the car, it’s impressively practical with a large trunk and a backseat that would probably work well in a pinch, or at least for a bunch of extra cargo. The visibility is great, and the seats are comfy. The dash design is pretty much typical BMW. It’s fine but not exciting. I also am split on the M details. I rather like the seat belt accents, but I think the light-up M4 logos in the seat backs are just absurd. Still, it’s an all-around enjoyable car that just needs a little more feedback to be truly amazing.
Manager, Production, Eddie Sabatini: Not my favorite M. That honor belongs to the M2. But we’re not here to talk about the near-perfect-for-my-money M2. We’re here to talk about the too-stiff-even-in-comfort-mode-for-my-taste M4.
It looks great, yes. I didn’t like the Austin Yellow paint at first but it started to grow on me. It has depth and changes with the light.
But let’s talk about the brake squeak…awful. I noticed it when driving at low speeds, like when approaching stop signs in my neighborhood. It sounds terrible. Hard pass for me on the ceramic disc brakes.
I also drove this back-to-back with the Audi RS5. For my money the Audi wins this battle. It’s slightly more comfortable and I preferred the driving dynamics.
The M4 is a very good car, don’t get me wrong, it’s just not my first pick in the segment or the M stable.