There's been a lot of talk about this being the reincarnation of the
True, it's a lot less confrontational in its appearance than the 'bread van' original, but this Z4-based coupé follows the same formula: fixed hard roof, more power, and more serious suspension and steering settings.
Why tone down the styling this time?
Well, BMW likes selling cars: only 609 of the old M Coupés found buyers in the UK. Shame. But look more closely and there are plenty of interesting bits, especially if you're standing behind or above the car. Parallel creases along the bonnet continue over the roof, emphasising the stocky rear haunches framing the 340-litre boot. Below that, a quartet of polished shotgun tailpipes holler a tune that BMW has spent decades perfecting. There’s also a deep air dam at the front.
If you wanted a performance BMW wouldn't you better off in the real deal, namely an M3?
Not necessarily, at least not if you don't want to be driving an obsolete car in 12 months – the new M3 comes out next year. And even when that car does come some will just prefer the M coupe's simplicity. It's an SMG-free, I-Drive-free zone. In fact it liberating not having to think about getting all your settings sorted before you can enjoy the drive – instead, you just attack the bends in the confident knowledge that the stiff chassis and brilliant M-diff will look after you.
A bit of a hooligan is it?
Actually, it's not. There's so much traction you can nail the throttle in any gear in most situations without fear of things getting out of hand. Which is actually a bit of a disappointment because at the same time it lacks the scalpel sharp responses of the Cayman. That M3 engine is still a joy though though. As you hammer the rev counter needle around to 8000rpm in all six gears, the sound matches the acceleration. Pressing the Sport button noticeably sharpens the throttle sensitivity making B roads more fun and stop-start driving even more unpleasant than it already is: as transmissions go this one's a clunker.
How is it different from the Z4 M Roadster?
The tin roof adds 5kg, but the Coupé matches the Roadster's 5.0sec 0-62mph time. The stiffer shell has also enabled the M division's white coats to quicken the steering ratio, and the spring and damper settings are different. Basically it feels much sharper to drive.
What’s the competition?
Porsche's Cayman S, which is 0.2 seconds slower to 62mph, packs less bhp and costs £3000 more. But it's worth every penny of that premium for the extra precision. Or at the other end of the scale there's the Nissan 350Z, which sounds great, drifts as well and costs £15k less. But as an overall package the BMW is hugely appealing, and its performance is astonishing. It lapped the Nürburgring in 8min 15sec, which is seven seconds quicker than the old M3.
A TVR for people who haven't got time to spend hanging around hard shoulders, the £41,285 M coupe looks, and sounds spectacular. But the 3.0Si isn't much slower, drops as many jaws and costs £8K less. I'm afraid this time the M model isn't the default choice.