Heavy and a little wobbly, the old M3 Convertible struggled to show its screaming 4.0 V8 off in the best possible light. Has the switch to turbo power transformed its replacement, the new M4 Convertible?
Give us the good new first. I’m presuming there is some good news about the new BMW M4 Convertible?
There’s plenty. The kerbweight is down 40kg compared to the previous model, and the new twin-turbo straight six makes 11bhp and – here’s the important bit – 111lb ft more torque. The M3 cab often struggled to feel truly rapid, not an affliction that blights this M4 version.
Zero to 62mph takes 4.4sec with the £2645 M-DCT gearbox that will account for 90% of sales. That’s 0.3sec slower than the M4 Coupe with the same ’box, but actually 0.2sec quicker than the old M3 coupe. It’s the mid-range though, that reaps the rewards of forced induction. The M4 feels effortlessly fast, and that probably matters more in a M4 without a roof.
The structure is also massively stiffer this time, banishing the scuttle shake and steering deflection drop-top M3 owners will be familiar with, and impeccable packaging results in four proper seats and a hood that stores elegantly beneath a pleasingly slim rear deck in 20sec, while still leaving room for luggage. Press a button on the bootlid when the roof is stored and the whole lot lifts slightly to help you reach your bags, the wind deflector is excellent, and there’s now a Mercedes-style neck heater system that blows hot air from the seatback. Perfect for British winters.
And the bad. I mean, there’s got to be some bad news, right?
Of course there is, but far less than before. The new turbo six-cylinder engine does a good job of disguising the cabrio’s heft, but there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s carrying almost 180kg more flab than the coupe. It doesn’t feel quite as savage, or as agile.
We’re still not totally smitten with that engine, either. It’s effective, certainly, but it’s hardly charismatic. Being critical, you’d have to say that the cabrio’s design, though so much better than most coupe-cabrio’s, isn’t as handsome as the base coupe’s either.
If anything, the M4 Convertible benefits more from the new turbo engine than the Coupe does. The extra torque provides strong performance, and its easy power delivery better matches the character of a car that’s likely to spend less time being spanked to within an inch of its life. Factor in the improved structural rigidity and smarter roof and you’ve got the ingredients for a great GT.