The introduction of turbocharging was a big controversy as BMW’s smallest full-fat M car morphed from M3 to M4 in 2014. The 3.0-litre S55 engine also reintroduced the straight six-engine layout. But although it lost two cylinders, the brace of turbos added huge dollops of torque compared with the previous E90/92 M3’s V8, as well as better fuel economy, with 32mpg versus the less-than-23 mpg that the older V8 lumbered you with.
That punchy power delivery possibly contributed to the reputation of early M4s for being a little wayward in the handling department, but actually there’s plenty of grip, a good chassis balance and a sharp turn-in.
For a sharper-feeling drive still, you can seek out a car with the Competition Package (which arrived in 2016 with the first of two facelifts). It gets a revised diff, tweaked suspension and exhaust, and upped power to 450hp. If you’ve not got the budget for a Competition-spec car, one with the optional adaptive dampers is worth seeking out.
That said, the standard car is hardly a blunt instrument, and it is most certainly a fine M car – one that’s fun to drive as well as being accessible and relatively easy to live with.