The world of sports cars and sports coupes has changed dramatically since the M4 first came out. And that’s exactly what this one is right here.
It’s a 2018 BMW M4 with the competition pack. Now, what does that mean?
Well, for 2018, you get these new LED lights on the front, which don’t really have any performance benefits, but they sure look cool.
The competition pack does some neat things, though, with the suspension and the electronics. It also bumps the power up to 340 KW, but we’ll talk about that once we drive.
As for the exterior though, it’s largely the same. You still have a carbon fiber roof that you don’t get if you get a moonroof, so don’t get the moonroof. But underneath, you no longer have a carbon fiber drive shaft. That was axed, I think, a year or two ago.
The BMW M4 spares wears it’s driving enthusiast desires pretty clearly in its interior. The competition package adds these bucket-like seats, which have extensive side bolstering, and they also have a fabric seat bottom in back, which helps hold you in place when you’re doing like high-g cornering stuff.
The problem is when you get in and out of the car, you have to wedge yourself between the bolster and the driver’s seat, which makes it a little bit tricky. But chances are, if you’re opting for something called the competition pack, you’re probably willing to accept that trade-off.
Now elsewhere in the car, you have carbon fiber on the dash or at least a material that looks like it. I would probably rather go for aluminum, but fortunately, you can change that when you order your own car. But without further ado, let’s start the car.
We have a good old-fashioned six-speed manual. This car does have automatic rev matching, but you can turn it off by playing with these settings right here.
Now, there are a lot of ways to adjust how this car drives, probably too much, in my opinion.
- You can adjust the level of steering effort you need.
- You can adjust the damper firmness.
- You can adjust how rapidly the engine meets your gas pedal use.
- And you have three different modes for the stability control. There’s a lot.
I think too much. And BMW must agree because on the steering wheel here, there are two preset buttons that lock in whatever you’ve set here.
I kind of wish BMW just had one setting for when you turn the car on, and then had a fast setting for when you’re ready to go.
But you can kind of make that happen with these buttons. So minor annoyance.
The steering wheel itself feels really nice, really nice on your hands with good levels of grip on it. It’s not too thick or too meaty. And the bolsters here on the sides lock your hands in at the right driving position.
The wheel is large enough too, so you can see the gauges really clearly. The gauges, themselves, are still analog. A lot of cars are using digital gauges today.
I kind of like the traditional look of these gauges, so it’s nice to have those. And one little neat trick that the M3 and M4 do in this generation is the red line is digital. And when the car is cold, It will actually be lower. And as it warms up, the lights start receding away until it shows 7,500 RPM.
That’s a nice little touch.
Other than that, this is a fairly straightforward interior. I’ll say that, because this is based on a sedan, you have a lot more interior space than you do in some other sports cars or sports coupes.
There’s plentiful space up here. I’ve got good headroom, shoulder room, leg room and all that, but the back seat is genuinely usable too for two full sized adults with the exception of headroom, which gets a little bit tight. But that’s for the comfort side of things.
Next, let’s get driving. In order to talk about what the M4 is today, we have to understand what it is in total. Aside being slightly firmer than the base car, it’s largely in the same package is what you get. What I really adore about this thing is the engine.
Not basically how it sounds, but the power delivery, the power band. Torque comes in very strongly as soon as the turbos get to boost, which feels very quick. This is a twin-turbocharged engine with pretty excellent throttle response. Very free revving.
What you have to be prepared for is that when torque does come in, it comes in really hard, with a wallop. The spike must look incredible when you look at the dyno sheet because that’s the way you feel it. And sometimes you have to anticipate it at slow speeds when you’re in second gear. Be quick on that steering because the rear end’s going to step out unless you have the traction. But it can get a little confused when the road gets bumpy. This rear end seems very firm. And on bumps and heaves, it can get a little out of sorts of itself. Now, in terms of overall agility, it’s hard to get around the sides.
You sit up high in this car. You have a tall roof. But that gives you good forward visibility and through the glass and all that stuff is what’s on the side. But this is a large car that feels its weight.
It masks that with sticky tires and powerful brakes and a big engine. But, at the end of the day, you’re working with a pretty large and heavy sport coupe. That can be OK because that’s what this car kind of competes against. But, again, there are more serious sports cars for this money.
They’re going to have their own downsides and upsides because of their layouts. But that’s just one thing you have to keep in mind with this car.
BMW’s done an excellent job with this shifter. It’s a very traditional BMW shifter. So if you’re used to that experience, this is the same.
It’s a kind of a rubbery feel, but something you can move around with some precision once you understand how to move it. I like the clutch engagement. It has good feel. It’s not too heavy. But you know exactly when it’s engaged. And the rev matching on downshifts is very quick.
If you want to hurry the gearbox, you want to make up time that way, you could probably do it faster yourself. But if you want to make up time, you probably aren’t going to be driving a 4,000 pound BMW coupe like this.
So what’s your real intention? When you get into the higher RPMs, this engine sounds good. It’s a very classical straight six.
How, with a little bit of a warble, that you wouldn’t normally associate with that engine, but the attributes are there at high engine speed. The problem is when you slow the car down, back off the gas, you’re at 3,000 RPM. You lay into it, there’s that drone.
The problem is you spend a lot more time driving it like this at these engine speeds than you do at the race engine speeds, when you’re really hauling ass.
So you get that drone a lot more than not. But because it’s not fun, let’s speed it back up and talk about other things that are fun.
This thing does come off corners really well when they’re smooth. You’re going to have a really fun time. Steering is accurate though the drive modes get a little bit bananas when you start looking into them. And you look at some of the settings, like the sport plus steering, is just to firm. And I can’t imagine why anybody would use it, unless they’re really into working out their biceps or triceps while they’re steering their car.
This is a fun car.
There are more serious and more sporting cars for the money. This money lands you in a really fast Corvette. This money lands you in an incredibly fast Camaro or Ford GT350R Mustang.
This money also lands you in a C63, which is more refined, has a more luxurious and rich interior. So that means the M4 kind of sits between those extremes.
That’s a tough place to be in, unless you don’t want the luxury and opulence and appearance of the Z63 and you don’t want the extreme sports car that you’d get out of some of the domestic counterparts.
That means this M4 might be the perfect car for that taste, but it requires a pretty specific set of circumstances for you to really want this thing.
Although it has some challenges, in terms of dynamics at the limit, the M4 is still a really fun car to drive and should satisfy most buyers would choose one