Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Calvin Chan
You'd start to think that BMW's ///M Division has started to lose its magic, sticking the tri-coloured badge on anything that moves. We've got SUVs with an M badge and even a pseudo-M vehicle, the M235i. However what can be argued as the most important model in the ///M lineup, the M3, is back and has bifurcated into the M4 Coupe and the M3 Sedan.
Each have identical engines, transmissions, and suspensions. They have the same 0-60mph and 0-100km/h times and the weight difference between the two is almost nil, even with the M3 having two more doors! The M4 sits a few millimeters closer to the ground and has a lower center of gravity - changes that aren't drastic enough that we really notice. But we're not here to talk about the M3 Sedan, that review will come later. This week, we are here to welcome the newest BMW family member to get beefed up by ///M Division, the 2015 BMW M4 Coupe.
One of the largest complaints of the M4 is the down-sizing of the engine and the addition of two turbos. You'd be surprised though, because this brand new 3.0L twin-turbo straight six produces a whopping 425 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. 4000rpm delivers a hefty punch, and it manages to keep pulling until the 7600rpm red-line. In all, 0-100km/h in 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 250km/h. It's counter-intuitive - two less cylinders and we're netting 38 percent more torque than the E92's V-8 engine.
Keep in mind that this new six-pot not only makes the new M4 faster than the old M3, but it also weighs around 170 pounds less. BMW went to extreme lengths to make the M4 as light as possible - carbon fibre and aluminum is the new bread and butter. The new engine also weighs nearly the same as the 435i's straight-six, and that had one less turbo. The exclusion of a naturally aspirated engine had upset many BMW die-hards, but rest assured. The M4 has a clever anti-lag system that maintains 120,000rpm in the turbos at all times, so you constantly have instant boost when you need it. Say goodbye to turbo-lag.
The M4 is matched up with a creamy six-speed manual transmission with an optional dual-clutch automatic transmission that we have yet to try. Think twice before choosing that auto-box, especially when we tell you the manual has got a nifty auto-rev feature. Down-shifting a gear will get the engine to start matching RPMs for whichever gear you choose, followed by a nice exhaust blip. Double clutching is suddenly obsolete. Yet there are some drivers that don't like computers messing around with their shifting. Luckily the auto-revving is automatically turned off when you change the damper settings into SPORT+.
This biturbo creation doesn't come close to matching the feral blipping of the E92, but the auto-rev does make the ride buttery smooth. Neck whiplashes and head thrusts are absent when cruising through the six gears, delivering a driving experience that mimics that of an automatic, a praise I only previously had for the M235i. Sure you can have that dual-clutch automatic, it's faster and more economical too. On the other hand, the manual sheds 26 pounds of weight and is a no-cost option.
And don't worry if you're a manual noobie, the M4 has got your back. If you stall just mash the clutch and the system will automatically restart the car for you, but with a transmission this slick you won't be stalling anytime soon. Can't say the same about that attack dog, the 2015 Subaru WRX STI we drove last week. It had a gruesome clutch that I swear was designed for stalling.
The M4 sports a brilliant chassis with three damper settings, Efficiency, Sport, and Sport+. To save some trouble, the driver can customize the individual driving and engine response settings to the two M buttons mounted on the steering wheel. Our favourite persona was sticking the Steering in Sport, the Throttle Response in Sport Plus, and engaging MDM mode, which stands for M Dynamic Mode. Here, the ESP is only 50% active, and lets the car happily over-steer without losing predictability, so even the novice can deliver a melodramatic drift. Despite a near 50:50 weight distribution, the M4 always feels eager to wag its tail out, and thank goodness the electric steering is exceptional. There is enough feedback from the wheel to make the drive a conversation rather than a guessing game.
Things that I am not a fan of? When engaged in SPORT or SPORT+, first gear gets really rough and nodular. Taking off in second gear was much smoother, but lacked the oomph of instantaneous torque that you get from first. The clutch pedal was also very deep. I normally prefer a much shorter clutch that is easier to manipulate and handle, rather than one that requires a long leg thrust each time.
What the M4 gains in torque and driving dynamics, it loses in theatre. Remember that growling E92 M3 exhaust with those lightning-quick downshift blips? Remember it well. The symphony coming out of the M4's dual exhausts is loud - you can even hear the turbos singing at low speeds. Yet, it doesn't quite hit the spot of satisfaction and brutality. The exhaust note is like a flat can of Coke, it's just not spritzy enough to quench our thirst. But as with the M5 and M6, the M4 is equipped with BMW's Active Sound technology. For those unfamiliar, the M4 takes cues from the engine revs, torque, and speed, and amplifies the engine noise through the car's speakers. While many think it's a fake sound, technically there aren't any pre-recorded or dishonest sounds coming out those speakers - it's a live amplification of natural engine sounds. As with previous Porsches, Lexus's and Fords with amplified sound, this may seem like brainwashing, but I try to forget about it. Noise is noise, fake or not. But I am curious of what the M4 would sound like without it. And unlike the auto-revving feature, you can't turn this one off.
The M4 design is based on the current F32 4-series, but it is longer and wider. The muscular fenders and front hood that are made from aluminum, while the roof is made from carbon-fibre to save some weight and increase rigidity. The rear trunk-lid and lip spoiler also get the same carbon treatment and reduces lift on the rear tires. Our tester was wearing the optional 19-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sports. Carbon ceramics can be fitted at an extra cost along with an Adaptive M suspension, neither of which our M4 had equipped.
Austin Yellow is a paint colour that can be a hit or a miss. My friends have called it a whole slew of nicknames - mustard, vomit, urine, with one friend to save the day, she called it beautiful. Love it or hate it, choose if you want to be noticed or to blend in with the crowd. White, Blue, Black. Hey if the exhausts won't turn heads, at least you will know that this mustard yellow will.
The M4 interior looks the same as every other BMW, aside from some minor differences that give this M car a feeling of exclusivity. The center console is wrapped in carbon-fibre, M buttons are littered on the steering wheel, the interior is stitched up in red and blue, and even the seat badges and gear shifter light up in the dark. BMW's heads-up display now shows an intricate rev counter and the analogue gauges are no longer the traditional BMW orange colour. White is the new orange.
The sport seats are comfortable, though I wish the side bolsters could be adjusted. Rear passengers will find plenty of headroom and legroom, but if height is a concern, look no further than the M3 sedan - two extra doors, more rear space and similar performance.
The M4 pushes the performance envelope whilst keeping focused on everyday practicality. Ditching the heavy V-8 for a straight-six was a logical choice, a move that every automaker seems to be making. The M4 is a modern M car that is not only comfier than its predecessor but faster, turbo-fed, and efficiency-oriented. Starting at $75,000, the debt ceiling surely isn't being pushed, but it's not a M235i bargain either. Rather, when a C63 AMG pulls up next to you and revs its V-8 engine, you can be confident that what the M4 is lacking in noise, it makes up for in speed. The magic certainly isn't lost with this one.
型号 Model: 2015 BMW M4 Coupé
顏色 Paint Type: Austin Yellow Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $75,000
試車售價 Price as Tested: $87,245
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2812
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4671 / 1870 / 1383
車重 Weight (lb): 3530
引擎 Engine: Twin-turbocharged 3.0L inline-six
最大馬力 Horsepower-HP: 425 / 5500-7300rpm
最高扭力 Torque-LB-FT: 406 / 1850-5500rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed manual
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
前後懸 Suspension: Independent
煞制-前後 Brakes: 4-wheel disc
循跡操控系统 ABS/Traction Control: Standard
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 13.7 / 9.0 / 11.6
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Front 255/35 ZR19 - Rear 275/35 ZR19