RE: BMW M4 GTS: Review

Sunday 24th April 2016

BMW M4 GTS: Review

It's twice the price of the standard M4 - can it really be twice the car?



Noise, engagement, personality - all the things allegedly missing from the standard M4. What cost would you put on putting them back in? BMW can tell you - it's a doubling of the price tag, some spangly wheels, a noisy exhaust and a bolt-on rear wing.

It really is a lot more than wings and wheels. Honest
It really is a lot more than wings and wheels. Honest
Quite a few seemingly can't get past that aftermarket appearance, the GTS looking like an escapee from one of Geneva's more questionable tuner stands. Especially with those spidery '666 M' wheels, highlighted in polished aluminium and Acid Orange paint. Then cynics see the £121,280 pricetag and might reasonably consider the joke is on the 30 owners who'll be taking delivery of the GTS in the UK. That's positively common compared with the previous one though - in total that car numbered just 150, the new GTS extending that run to 700 cars. Thank the US market for that - this is the first M3/M4 special to be officially sold Stateside and BMW expects nearly half of that run to be taken up by American M fans.

Those rather silly looking wheels are actually a pretty neat analogy for the car as a whole. Sure, they're loud and attention seeking and one of the things marking the GTS apart from regular M4s. But study the detail and you'll discover at 9.5 and 10.5J they're actually half an inch wider than those on the standard M4, of mixed size - 19s at the front, 20s at the rear - and wear Cup 2 tyres. Composite aluminium/carbon wheels are an additional option. Making room for the wider front wheels required fitting bespoke asymmetric pivot bearings on the steering gear, this in conjunction with revised front geometry, a new torque curve for the power assistance and removal of the standard steering column's 'elastic' damper for improved response.

Fixed back seats, cage and extinguisher set the mood
Fixed back seats, cage and extinguisher set the mood
Big league
Reading into the detail it starts to dawn on you that this is a bit more than a set of big rims and a bodykit. Though you may yet struggle to convince doubters otherwise. All due respect to Halfords but last we checked it didn't offer upgrades that'll slice 30 seconds out of your 'ring lap time alongside the usual air fresheners and cleaning products...

And we could prattle on and on about the M4 GTS's technical geekery. But there's driving to be done.

First thing you notice - mainly because it'll leave your ears ringing - is the noise. As in there's a lot of it and it ain't coming through the speakers. The titanium silencer still has two flap operated settings but for start-up it's fully open and if the looks hadn't attracted attention already, the outrageous rev flare certainly will. Don't expect a sympathetic response from everyone. Especially at the track day noise test - we took the GTS to Castle Combe and, although it sailed through at 98db in Comfort mode, in Sport Plus it blew 111db. At 4,500rpm.

From the outside it's got a wicked, metallic crackle that hopefully silences any worries the turbocharged M4 couldn't sound exciting without electronic assistance. Inside it's if anything even wilder, the GTS thankfully released from the pretence of not being turbocharged and instead offering up all manner of whooshes, gurgles, barks and ripples depending on what you're doing with throttle and gears. Confidence lift on that 'it's flat, honest' corner at the back of the track and the resulting crackle will betray your lack of commitment to your mates in the paddock - there's no hiding if you're not completely on it, in other words.

A nice round 500hp will do very well!
A nice round 500hp will do very well!
Base point
For the 69hp and 36lb ft gains you might be fooled into thinking the throttle is a little softer than the standard car's. It's possible there's been a tweak to the map - peak torque is now listed at 4,000rpm rather than 1,850rpm - but the more likely answer is that it's the stability control quietly having a word. Because this is seriously, seriously rapid car.

On the road it's possibly a little too much. The three-way adjustable passive dampers have a fluidity and composure about them absent in the button configurable items on the standard car, seemingly without too much compromise in ride quality either. And the increased body control actually benefits traction to the point where you have a lot more confidence in the car, especially with a little heat in the tyres. Front end bite was never lacking either but here it's so much more natural in feel and offers a real sense of something to lean against, rewarded with huge drive out of the corner rather than a bonfire of tyre smoke and armfuls of opposite lock. On a bumpy B-road it's a busy car to drive at pace, the more responsive steering and aggressive geometry eager to sniff out cambers. But it's actually more confidence inspiring to have some communication about the car's intentions, rather than just going very fast in a blaze of DSC warning lights.

You need a track to fully appreciate the GTS
You need a track to fully appreciate the GTS
Road to nowhere
Any doubt of this car's priorities is soon blown away - this car is about lap times first and foremost, and borderline too fast for the public road. It's never dull. But you'd be missing out if you never took it on a circuit.

One of the M4 GTS's more interesting track-oriented features is its water injection system, developed initially for the MotoGP safety car and a claimed first for a road car. Those with longer memories will recall this isn't the first occasion German built engines have benefitted from this technology, Second World War Luftwaffe fighters using a 50/50 water/methanol mixture known as MW50 injected into the intake system to provide a temporary power boost. Incredibly enough this heritage isn't mentioned in the BMW press material but the engineering goal is the same - by reducing the temperature of the charge air, boost pressures can be raised without the risk of knock or detonation.

In the case of the GTS BMW says the air exiting the turbo can be cooled from 160 degrees to just 70 through intercooling, water injection reducing this by another 25 degrees. There's a five-litre tank in the boot, which disappears about the same rate as the fuel on track. In normal use it's reckoned to be more like every five tanks of petrol. When it runs out the timing, boost and other settings simply default so there's no actual harm in driving around without it, bar the loss of power.

It's a neat trick and lets the 3.0-litre - suitably strengthened - punch well above its weight. Such is the DSC's paranoia its extra clout is constantly reined in on track though, the GTS tugged back by its choke chain under even apparently mild throttle inputs. A switch to the more relaxed M Dynamic Mode feathers the throttle with a very public rasp but maintains the car's stability more tactfully. So far so M4 - if you've spent time in the normal car you'll be accustomed to the warm orange glow of the flickering DSC light.

Doing this is far harder than you may think
Doing this is far harder than you may think
Confidence trick
But traction is so much better in the GTS the seemingly macho stance of turning everything off isn't such a huge leap after all and, in fact, the car feels a lot more predictable and controllable. With heat in the Cup 2s it's actually very, very hard to unstick the rear and, helped by damping that lets you keep your foot flat even on fast direction changes that rapidly load the back axle from one side to the other. Try that in the standard car and see how far you get... This is just more M4, more of the time. Indeed, there's now so much grip from the rear it's ultimately the front end that gives out first, a most surprising sensation for anyone accustomed to the more lurid throttle adjustability of the standard car. And though the steering is improved it's still, ultimately, a little light and lifeless at maximum attack.

But the noise, the extra power, the sequential-like shifts through the DCT... in all other respects the GTS is convincingly hardcore and intense. And defies cynicism by just being bloody exciting to drive fast. It's one of those cars that feels like it could do this all day too, the provocation of 'mere' BMW able to mix it with GT3 Porsches and GT-Rs in a track environment rather appealing, albeit at a price. And if you option the nav and stereo back in there's just about enough refinement remaining to make the long drive home bearable too.

One of the M greats? Undoubtedly
One of the M greats? Undoubtedly
A pity then much of the good work in the engineering is undone by an appearance many will write off as immature and attention seeking. Snootier types may sneer that for all the heart on sleeve circuit accoutrements it's too heavy and too compromised to be a 'real' track car and lacks the provenance of homologation credibility. Leaving it the four-wheeled equivalent of wearing your Alpinestars pixie boots to dinner.

Let 'em sneer. The M4 GTS revels in being lairy, loud and a little uncouth. It's massively exciting at all times and proves M still has the engineering talent to build proper driver's car when it wants to. Let's hope a few owners actually live the dream and enjoy them as intended; ideas above its station or not, the motoring world is a more exciting place for cars like the M4 GTS and the sheer exhilaration it brings is something to be celebrated.

Castle Combe lap here.


BMW M4 GTS
Engine
: 2,979cc, twin-turbo straight-six
Transmission: 7-speed M dual-clutch gearbox, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 500@6,250rpm
Torque (lb ft): 442@4,000-5,500rpm
0-62mph: 3.8sec
Top speed: 190mph
Weight: 1,585kg (EU, with driver)
MPG: 33 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 199g/km
Price: £121,280 (£123,670 as tested comprising of £825 for head-up display, £95 for internet, £160 for online entertainment, £220 for speed limit display and £1,090 for Carbon-fibre interior package)

Thanks to Bookatrack for having us along.

 


 


 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Tim Brown

Author
Discussion

Paddy78

Original Poster:

94 posts

77 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
So... buy a standard M4, drive it through Halfords and save yourself £50k.

I'm sure it's a wonderful, wonderful thing, but it just looks too far removed from OEM BMW to appeal to me. It's like they are desperately trying to make a GT3 marque which they can flog to people for silly money.

Stone Cold

1,390 posts

104 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
I saw you (this) on the M4 westbound at around 7:15 yesterday morning, shortly after J13 so on your way to Castle Combe then. Must admit it didn't sound too loud as it went past me at a gentle 80ish but I saw it coming from a mile off, no doubting what it was, but twice the price of a standard M4, no thanks!

jayemm89

2,131 posts

61 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
I was lucky enough to spend some time recently in the AC Schnitzer M4 as featured here a while ago.

That car you could choose between the regular 425 and the 510 brought about by the "kit". In 425 mode on dry roads it just lit up the TC light, even at moderate revs.

Like this car (from the description) it was also loud, but not a good sounding vehicle. A shame, as I have been a real ///M enthusiast but the current crop of cars are not inspiring me. The M2 looks fun, but I'd have a top-spec E92 and change in a heartbeat.

tejr

1,053 posts

95 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
So you only get 500bhp when the water/meth mixture is available for use? How much power do you lose without it?

Oddball RS

1,755 posts

149 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
Nice rims and non shiny paint............. pmsl
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Kawasicki

5,195 posts

166 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
I read somewhere that the springs are 60% stiffer than the standard M4.

Also, wasn't the wayward suspension of the M4 part of the "character".

Since this car is composed in comparison, is it missing some "character"?

big_rob_sydney

2,049 posts

125 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
Overpriced and overweight tat.

Look at offerings from other manufacturers when they go the extra mile to produce something special. They strip their cars down, almost to the bone. This should be 1350kg or less.

And the price. What a giraffe.

P-Jay

8,599 posts

122 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
I'm sure I've seen those wheels before...


I have!





MrBarry123

4,777 posts

52 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
It's fabulous... Apart from the wheels which are a crime against humanity.

Apart from that, I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY LIKE IT and would choose it over the GT4, GT3 and GT3 RS.

It's just a shame that I'll [probably] never be able to own one. laugh

Zod

34,803 posts

189 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
big_rob_sydney said:
Overpriced and overweight tat.

Look at offerings from other manufacturers when they go the extra mile to produce something special. They strip their cars down, almost to the bone. This should be 1350kg or less.

And the price. What a giraffe.
BMW don't care what you think. They'll sell them all.

CSLmarson

164 posts

126 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
Finally something that can hold a light to the e46 CSL

Top work BMW, yes its a little lairy but who cares with the amount of bright green /orange GT3-RS'S I saw at Spa last weekend

I don't think it will really bother the people who are actually going to buy these things seeing as ther have got 4/5 other cars they can take to Tesco,

get a deposit down not and watch the cash roll in !

Sam All

3,101 posts

32 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
Zod said:
BMW don't care what you think. They'll sell them all.
Only 700 worldwide, and this time a big chunk going to the US.

Only 30 or so coming to be sold to UK investors. Contrast the days when 500 E9 CSLs came to the UK on 1972.

Imagine 500 M4 GTSs came to the UK. Even the 422 CSLs at 60k had an issue selling on - as you know.

BMW can do better - by building more and cheaper. This is more expensive than a 991 GT3.

Kawasicki

5,195 posts

166 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
Oh yeah...Water Injection...it's hardly new technology, is it?

Didn't Saab have a production car with water injection in the 70's?

em177

2,869 posts

95 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
I want the seats for my E46. Apart from that I could take it or leave it to be honest. Shame.

cerb4.5lee

10,013 posts

111 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
jayemm89 said:
Like this car (from the description) it was also loud, but not a good sounding vehicle. A shame, as I have been a real ///M enthusiast but the current crop of cars are not inspiring me. The M2 looks fun, but I'd have a top-spec E92 and change in a heartbeat.
I finally got around to test driving the M4 yesterday and took a M4 Convertible out and I wasn't expecting much because everyone seems to slate the way they sound but I was pleasantly surprised and the noise actually put a smile on my face.

Maybe it helped having the roof down because I could hear the exhaust easily and I actually liked how vocal the turbos were too, I much preferred it to my E92 M3 because I didn't have to wait until 6k revs for the car to actually get a move on.

I was left very impressed by it to be fair.

Martin_Hx

3,630 posts

129 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
I like it... but whats this for? "£95 for internet, £160 for online entertainment" to drive it wirelessly via my PS4? moan

Leins

6,503 posts

79 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
Wonder if Alpina will do another B3 GT3

vz-r_dave

3,277 posts

149 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
Save a packet and buy an E46 CSL! Have more fun tracking it for 3-5 years with the savings.

dlockhart

434 posts

103 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
Martin_Hx said:
I like it... but whats this for? "£95 for internet, £160 for online entertainment" to drive it wirelessly via my PS4? moan
I agree those options (possibly with the exception of HUD) detract from the car.

Normally carbon fibre interior would look great on a road going touring car but the carbon on the wheel looks awful in the photo

WCZ

5,380 posts

125 months

Wednesday 20th April 2016
quotequote all
actually sounds pretty decent and for less money would be a winner!