The transition from spine tingling natural aspiration to doing the numbers turbocharging is one many of our favourite cars have faced recently. From Clio Renaultsport to
they've (nearly) all had to downsize and turbo up, some with more success than others. One of the first to face the music was the BMW M3 and M4, leading a charge of newly turbo'd fast car icons all desperately trying to convince us CO2, mpg, and diesel-like torque delivery can appeal like a wrung-out atmospheric engine revving to the sky.
Down two cylinders, up two turbos - fair swap?
in the Portuguese sunshine on the launch, had us a little
under wintry British skies a few months later and got us
in gut lord F83 convertible form. And then its
AMG arch rival
burst onto the scene, keeping its V8, gaining the inevitable turbos and looking worryingly like a cake and eat it solution. Somebody had to go first though. After that initial rush of excitement how's the M4 (no, still doesn't sound right) fairing? PH has been offered a long-termer to find out. Which is nice...
Hand on heart I'd have preferred an M3, for the dual reasons of family four-door friendliness and a preference for its more muscular styling. And the fact it's still called an M3. But an M4 it is. I can feel the waves of sympathy flooding in already...
Doesn't it look spectacular though! Dammit, a man should be excited at the prospect of a brand-new M long-termer and when I first walked out into the car park with the key in my hand it properly stopped me in my tracks. I loved that stealth-spec M3 we had in last year. But there's nothing subtle about an Austin Yellow M4 and, on visuals alone, I'm smitten. For now this is the M's trump card over the C63 too - the Merc is available as a wagon and both can be had as four-door saloons. But, traditionally, this is coupe territory. And ground the M4 can claim its own, albeit contested with the unexpectedly impressive Lexus RC F.
Although I've driven both the coupe and saloon extensively my first exploratory commute in the M4 has been my initial taste of YJ15 WHF and limited thus far to trundling along in M25 traffic. And whiling away the time reacquainting myself with the BMW infotainment systems and other toys I grew to admire in my
. This time around there are a lot more buttons of course. Exciting ones, relating to suspension, steering, throttle, DSC settings and more besides. Obviously the first thing to do before even tuning the radio was to configure my two M buttons... M1 is mooching mode with DSC on, Comfort Steering, Comfort dampers, mid-setting auto gearbox and Sport engine. M2 is attack mode, keeping the Comfort steering, upping the dampers to Sport, going Sport Plus for engine, M Dynamic Mode for DSC and manual shift set to full SMG-alike punch in the gut mode.
Looking at the spec sheet there's a bunch of 'connected' this and 'assist' that to be exploring too. But that can wait. Oh yes. That spec sheet. Look at the bottom line. Yes, that's an on the road price starting with a seven... This, I'm sure, will ignite the conversation before we even get anywhere near exploring the car's abilities on the road.
Bigger worry; caliper colour clash or £6,250 price?
Of the options fitted to the car - and having driven a manual - I'd say the £2,645 for the M DCT dual-clutch is pretty much essential. I know, not very purist but the way it's integrated into the chassis and engine control systems completes the car. The £1,600 LED lights are very nice but a bit extravagant and you could probably ditch a lot of the 'assists' and not lose any sleep over it. But the £6,250 M Carbon ceramic brakes? Definite bragging points for the gold-painted bling within the wheels (even if it clashes with the Austin Yellow) but actually worth it? We got 'em glowing on track when we tested against the RC F but we'll have to see if they're genuinely an investment worth making. At least they're nicely modulated and not too grabby.
But let's get that conversation about the price out of the way first. And we can concentrate on the fun stuff later...
Car: BMW M4
Run by: Dan
On fleet since: June 2015
List price new: £73,870 (Basic list of £57,055 plus £1,330 for Black Merino leather, £545 for advanced parking package, £2,645 for 7-speed M DCT transmission, £6,250 for carbon ceramic brakes, £175 for 19" M Double- spoke style 437M alloy wheels/Black with mixed tyres, £265 for sun protection glass, £155 for extended storage, £140 for sliding front armrest, £440 for lane change warning system, £395 for Carbon Fibre interior trim, £1,600 for Adaptive LED headlights, £370 for driving assistant, £500 surround view, £825 Head-up display, £675 Harman/Kardon Loudspeaker system, £95 internet and £190 for online entertainment)