June 21 2014 is the day the new BMW M4 goes on sale, yet BMW has released full details for the production version of its new hero ahead of its Detroit show debut in January. In case you missed it, the M4 is the new name for the two-door M3, and the flagship M version is more powerful, faster and tougher than ever.
The outgoing M3 Coupe has proved the benchmark for the Mercedes C63 AMG and the Audi RS5 so the M4 will has its work cut out for it, having to live up to not only its rivals, but its predecessor. Its full release at Detroit coincides with the showing of a new key rival, the Lexus RC-F.
What’s the M4 had done to it?
We’ll leave the looks to you, with a footnote that the M3 saloon version is wider at the rear than the coupe, perhaps swaying purists into a four-door this time around. Oh, and we have to mention our disappointment with the body coloured rear diffuser. At least the M4 gets an integrated rear spoiler, whereas the M3 saloon has its added on. Yet an M car is more about its ability than its glitz.
We all knew that the sonorous 4.0-litre V8 from the outgoing E92 M3 wouldn’t live on: the M4 has an intercooled twin-turbo straight six. It is, as M-philes will tell you, the first M3/M4 with a turbocharged engine. While it can’t rev to the lofty 8300rpm of the 414bhp V8, the new six brings with it an extra 11bhp – but a massive escalation in torque from 296lb ft to a stonking 406lb ft. Not only that, but it’s on tap from 1850-5500rpm, making the M4 one flexible performer. Feeding those 19in rear wheels through your choice of a six-speed manual (yep, it’s still on offer) that now features auto throttle blipping, or the brilliant seven-speed twin-clutch M-DCT transmission, the M4’s good for an official 0-62 sprint of 4.1sec – 0.5sec up on the V8 M3 Coupe.
What about M4 tech?
The 2979cc engine itself is a development of the N54/55 six-cylinder currently used in the 335i and M135i. It’s the most tech-laden version yet, with direct injection, double vanos and a closed-deck crankshaft design to maintain crankcase pressure and minimise power loss. The M4 also has a bi-modal exhaust to arm it with a louder bark in the M-Dynamic modes. Press that sacred M button on the new steering wheel – which is shared with other M cars, like the M5 – and you’ll get the most out of the new Active M Diff, which is standard on all M3 and M4s. The axles now carry stronger brakes, with four-piston calipers up front and twin-piston at the rear replacing single-piston versions, with carbon stoppers an option for the first time. The rear axle is lighter, thanks to more extensive use of aluminum suspension components, as is the front end – in fact, the whole car weighs in at 1497kg, 80kg less than the previous M3 Coupe.
The carbon roof is still an M-car USP (black-roofed C63s are pretenders…) and there’s more carbon under the bonnet for the strut brace, with more weight saved with the electronic power steering. It too, is adjusted via the adaptive chassis, which includes Launch Control and an hilarious ‘Smokey Burnout’ setting (seriously…). Yet BMW says, ‘Whichever setting the driver chooses, he or she remains responsible for the car’s stability’. You’ve been warned…
And the practical stuff?
Oh, it uses much less fuel than the old V8, and it’s the efficient M-DCT you’ll want for the best figures. That’s 34mpg combined, compared to the old car’s 25.2mpg. And of course there’s more rear legroom than before, thanks to the longer wheelbase, and more cabin tech, such as the iDrive’s handwriting recognition, plus options such as full internet access. Of course, the 4-series brings with it a conventional handbrake for, um, emotional use instead of a finger-width, slow responding switch….
Is it true to the original M3 ethos?
We’ll know when we drive it, but the M3 (and now M4) has already morphed from a race-homologation racecar for the road with an F1-derived four-cylinder, through to the E36’s six-pot before the V8. Can this car carry the torch? On paper – apart from its weight – things look positive, but whether it needs to be is another discussion. Tell us what you think below…
How much and when?
When the BMW M3 (saloon) and BMW M4 Coupe go on sale this June, the M4 will start at £56,653 and the M3 saloon at £56,175. UK cars will be equipped with 19in M light alloys, Adaptive M suspension and high-gloss Shadowline treatment as standard.