2014 BMW M4 review
The 2014 BMW M4 has power and technology aplenty to help it take on the Mercedes C63 AMG in the battle to be top dog in the sports coupe sector...
How odd, you might think; it’s the new BMW M3, only it’s not. It's an M4.
Well, quite. It is a bit of a departure – a result of the introduction of the 4 Series name to BMW’s mid-sized executive coupe, on which the M4 is based. The important thing is that – on paper, at least - the M4 seems to be the sort of successor to the legendary M3 coupe that you would hope for.
Power goes to the rear-wheels alone, but the previous model’s V8 motor has been replaced with a more powerful, more efficient, 425bhp 3.0-litre, twin-turbo, six-cylinder. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, but the vast majority of UK buyers will opt for the seven-speed dual-clutch ‘M DCT’ auto.
There is, of course, an array of technical trickery as standard, including adaptive dampers, heavily revised aluminium suspension, and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential.
What’s the 2014 BMW M4 like to drive?
Epic, but only if you’re brave, and if you’ve got it in the right settings, of which there are many. The suspension, steering weight, auto gearbox and stability control all have three (or more) settings and can be adjusted independently, which can be more hindrance than help at times.
Even so, the harder you drive the M4, the more its finessed and playful handling shines. Body control is hard to fault, turn-in feels sharp, and the steering offers loads of bite and a great sense of how much grip there is at both the front and the back wheels.
It’s not flawless, though, because you have to be doing seriously questionable speeds to really feel the M4 come alive, regardless of which settings you’ve chosen. It’s too civilised for its own good at normal road speeds, reverting to feeling like an explosively rapid GT rather than a full-bore sports car. The speed-sensitive steering also feels a bit slower and less responsive at real-world speeds too.
Still, that dual-nature is arguably exactly what an M4 buyer will be looking for, and the engine is certainly the key to its more relaxed character. There’s no uneven power surge from the straight-six, which pulls cleanly from low revs right up to 7600rpm. Shame it sounds like a diesel most of the time.
You may want to consider the £6250 carbon-ceramic brakes, which offer good feel and are easy to modulate in normal use, as well as being impressively resistant to fade.
The dual-cutch auto is, of course, a big part of that, and in most settings it’s brilliant. Leave it in pipe-and-slippers mode and the shifts are smooth and barely noticeable.
At the other end of the scale, you can stick it in manual with the ferocity of the changes turned right up, and paddle your way through the ratios with almost no perceptible break in the flow of power.
It can lurch abruptly from a standstill if you're not very gentle with the throttle, and it’s not always in the right gear in the sportier auto settings, but it comes pretty close, and the manual mode is so good that you’re more likely to use that for any committed driving.
The ride comfort is also a stand-out. Yes, it’s firm, so you’re aware of bumps and undulations in the road – particularly compressions – but it’ll be easy to live with, provided you stick with the standard 19-inch alloys.
Refinement is more of a problem, because those wide tyres kick up loads of noise even at lower speeds, which can become tiring fairly quickly. There's too much wind noise, too.
What’s the 2014 BMW M4 like inside?
The distinctive M tri-colours are widely in evidence, from the stitching on the steering wheel to badges on the dials and door-sills, but it’s the seats that are the biggest change between the M4 and 4-Series.
Electrically adjustable and heated as standard, they offer masses of lateral support and drop very low into the cabin should you wish. Tall drivers may want for slightly longer under-thigh support, but otherwise the M4’s leather seats are really good.
Even the rear seats have more sculpted backrests to offer rear passengers more support, although we’d say they’re unlikely to stop you from sliding around when the driver is being enthusiastic.
Otherwise, it is near-enough identical to the interior of the 4-Series, which is no bad thing. It means you get a classy, easy-to-use dashboard, and the M4 is heaving with kit, including BMW’s Professional Media package - which includes a wide-screen sat-nav – and all-round parking sensors as standard.
Should I buy one?
Yes, if you’re after a properly stonking sports-coupe, that’s also easy to live with the M4 is for you. It's sweaty-palmed and exhilarating when you want it to be, but also more civilised than ever before too.
Our only criticism is that it feels a little less than dazzling unless you really wring it out, which you will be hard-pushed to do regularly on UK roads.
Something like a Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe, for instance, won’t be as easy to live with, or as rapid point-to-point, but does feel more exciting, more of the time, although it is more expensive.
If you can sacrifice the M4’s four-seat practicality then a Porsche Cayman is also a more delicate and involving to drive most of the time, with a better soundtrack from its naturally aspirated flat-six engine.
However, the M4 strikes a sweet balance between everyday usability and hairy-chested, sports-car thrills, and it’s also very competitively priced.
The cheaper, roomier M3 saloon is hard to fault compared with other four-door rivals, but the M4 has stiffer competition to contend with, and the Porsche Cayman S remains the best coupe for driving fun.
What Car? says...
BMW M4Engine size 3.0-litre 6cyl turbocharged
Price from £56,635
Torque 406lb ft
0-62mph 4.3 seconds
Top speed 155mph (limited)
Fuel economy 32.1mpg
BMW M4 M DCT automatic Engine size 3.0-litre 6cyl turbocharged
Price from £59,135
Torque 406lb ft
0-62mph 4.1 seconds
Top speed 155mph (limited)
Fuel economy 34.0mpg