It wasn’t just another Wednesday; I was wide awake at 3.30am getting ready to leave for the National Capital. I had to board the flight by 5.40am, but I was at the airport...
BMW M4 [2014-2018]
BMW M4 [2014-2018] Review
It wasn’t just another Wednesday; I was wide awake at 3.30am getting ready to leave for the National Capital. I had to board the flight by 5.40am, but I was at the airport an hour before. I would be accompanied by my colleague who was already there and we were to drive four cars. My thoughts were turning selfish as I secretly wished to drive all those cars. In totality 1854 German horses that would smoke all of those eight tyres at the drop of a hat. So, what did we drive that day and where in Delhi? It was the pre-launch event of BMW M3 and M4 and to make it more interesting BMW had arranged for the M5 and the M6 Gran Coupe at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC).
It wasn’t just another Wednesday; I was wide awake at 3.30am getting ready to leave for the National Capital. I had to board the flight by 5.40am, but I reached the airport an hour before. I would be accompanied by my colleague who was already in Delhi and we were to drive four cars. My thoughts were turning selfish as I secretly wished to drive all those cars. In totality 1854 German horses that would smoke all of those eight tyres at the drop of a hat. So, what did we drive that day and where in Delhi? It was the pre-launch event of BMW M3 and M4 and to make it more interesting BMW had arranged for the M5 and the M6 Gran Coupe at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC).
Isn’t that a reason enough to get selfish? Well, I believe in sharing happiness, so I decided to be the nice guy and only asked for the M4 and the M5. Surprisingly, my colleague obliged and I was all set to embark on a mission to tame the M4 and to conquer the BIC. Six minutes of drive time and a distance of 10km later I was a changed man, and I will convey why through this story.
Exterior and Interior
The pre-loaded virtual images of the M4 in my mind made my job of studying its styling easy. German cars are understated. This is an overused cliché which I am accustomed to writing and I am not sure if I can say the same about the M4. BMWs have never made evocative designs and most of their cars are all go and little show. But, the M4 is not like other BMWs and is kind of on the border of being loud and its attention grabbing yellow paint is an icing on the cake. My first glance at the M4 was from behind and the first thing that I noticed from the left-rear-three-quarter angle was the thick shoulder line that gets chunkier near the door handle and ends before the front axle. The tail lights, the quad-tail pipes and the shark fin and the integrated lip spoiler left me spellbound and I was reluctant to move until someone waiting to take a photograph said, “You are spoiling my shot,” in a mild voice.
At the front, the car gets a bumper with beefy air dams and new design headlights that join the signature kidney grille; it all looks so similar to the M3 sedan that I am tempted to say I would like to try cross fitting them as both cars are near identical in width as well. If I had to pick one unique styling element then I am a big fan of the way the wing mirrors with ‘horn’ look. We aren’t sure how much it helps in aerodynamics, but I like them.
BMW has sensibly used carbon fibre to keep the mass low and has managed to arrest its weight at 1,612 kg. The top is entirely made of carbon fibre and the light boot is deceiving, being so light you might believe it is made of carbon fibre as well. We inspected it by lifting and knocking and indeed it is made of carbon fibre. The alloy-wheels and the brake calipers painted in yellow are oomph personified and go well with the overall styling. The M4 looks like an exciting package from outside and while not being as alluring as a sports car should be, it is not too conservative either. The Porsche and the Jaguar are more purpose-built and don’t have a regular road-going version and that’s where the magnificence of BMW’s tuning house M comes into play. It converts your regular road-going cars into potential sports car rivals.
Inside the cabin? It is a typical BMW, but with the M styling elements. The three-spoke M steering wheel is good to hold and to look at and gets controls for Bluetooth telephony and audio. It doesn’t get electric adjust for reach and rake, instead, you can find a lever underneath to adjust it, with a clear objective of saving weight. More carbon fibre greets you at the centre console around the AC vents and the MID controls. The audio controls are placed below the AC vents and further down are the climate control buttons in typical BMW style. The stubby round gear knob with toggle function for gearshifts is typical of an M car. The M sport seat was a snug fit for someone my size and with 10-way adjustments available, it will comfortably seat almost any bodyframe. In international markets BMW offers electric seat adjusts as an option, but we expect them to be standard here. The driving position is magnificent and shows the clear driver focus you would expect in an M car.
If you like to hear engine noise inside the cabin, then you would love the Active Sound Technology that has made its way through most M cars. This system reproduces the engine sound through the audio system which varies depending on the mode the car is in, with it being louder in the Sport and Sport + modes. While we don’t mind the noise emanating from the speakers it may not go well with the old-school drivers. This is arguably the best place to be for a driving enthusiast and the pedigree of BMW’s driver eccentric focus is evident.
Engine and Performance
Increasingly the automotive world is adapting to small capacity turbocharged engines and BMW has fallen prey to it. The M4 gets a straight-six, 2,979cc petrol engine with twin turbochargers belting out 425bhp and 550Nm of torque. This engine is more powerful than the naturally aspirated 4.0-litre V8 used in the E92/93 M3 and while one might think the throttle response to suffer a bit, it does not. Throttle responses are crisp and very close to the naturally aspirated engines and obviously it saves some weight too. It still has a high redline of 7600rpm for a turbocharged engine and peak power is produced at 7300rpm.
How does it feel? The race track is the right place to extract every ounce of power from this engine; I did make good use of the abundance of space and the lack of cops, cattle and pedestrians. I had two laps in the M4, while my first lap was marred by the car ahead of me who was probably admiring the M4 lurking on his tail. The second lap was fruitful as the trainer ahead in an M5 asked the admirer to step out and it was the trainer and myself in position 1 and 2. The engine felt so lively that I was caught unawares by the throttle response; my poker face often worried my co-passenger. The response is almost close to a naturally aspirated engine and I was eating my own words that entire day discussing it with my colleague. The final lap was very fast and powering out of corners I managed to step-out the tail with little provocation. It is so responsive that despite the abundant space on the race track I was using the throttle gingerly at the corner exits.
The seven-speed M-DCT plays a perfect symphony to the brilliant six-cylinder engine and upshifts are quick and so are the downshifts. While the operation going down the gears was smooth with auto rev-match, the upshifts were jerky and the active sound system just accentuates the gear shift noise into the cabin which I don’t appreciate.
While the track is not the ideal place to test the ride comfort of a car, I had firsthand experience of how it handles. Well, two laps were spent in Sport + mode with the traction nanny sitting with a stick to spank me for being over-enthusiastic, thankfully it kept me sane and I didn’t invite the wrath of the trainer.
The steering feel was good and the handling was razor sharp, I did manage to generate loads of g-force going through the corners and in this process encountered little body roll which can go unnoticed.
What I like about this car is that it feels non-sophisticated and has that mechanical feel that draws you close to the machine. Overall a brilliant engine and gearbox package make it an absolute hoot to drive.
The race track is where this car belongs, it feels lively on the track and the engine, gearbox, steering, brakes all play a perfect symphony when driven hard. While it may not be as sublime on our broken and at times non-existent roads, it cannot be ruled out as impractical or non useable either. The M4 is easy to drive, and unless you are trying to do an Isle of Man (car version) on winding roads be prepared to catch the slide before you blink.
Take heed Porsche Carrera and Jaguar F-Type for the BMW M4 is here, armed with dollops of power and dynamics to match. It is a brilliant package and is probably the most potent M car on sale in India in terms of performance. But, the fact remains that at the end while we sit to sum up, it is so tempting to say that this is the car for me if I had what BMW asks for it - Rs 1.21 crore (ex-showroom India). Well, that’s the first shortcoming, the price which puts it bang into the proper sports car territory - Porsche Carrera Rs 1.28 crore (ex-showroom Delhi) and the Jaguar F-Type Rs 1.22 crore (ex-showroom Delhi). Internationally, the M3 has for years fought it out with the Carrera and being cheaper it was a compelling package. But, the legacy of the M3 Coupe has come to an end and now we get the M4 and we are not sure if Indians will prefer it over exclusive brands like Porsche.
Despite the M4’s additional horsepower, about 90bhp more than the F-Type and 81bhp over the Carrera, the Porsche is a true-blue sports car with greater handling pedigree. On a race track the Carrera might just be faster, but the M4 has practicality on its side and the widespread network of BMW to its advantage. The big question in my mind remained ‘the M3 had a cult status among enthusiasts worldwide, will the M4 carry forward its legacy? After my experience, I am convinced it will.
BMW M4 [2014-2018] Colours
M4 [2014-2018] is available/sold in the following colours in India.
BMW M4 [2014-2018] Expert Reviews
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