2015 BMW M4 Coupe
Based on the current, F30-generation 3- and F32 4-series, the new M4 is longer and wider than its predecessor, but should weigh about the same. It also gets its own chassis code for the first time: F82. Extremists applaud BMW’s fanatical approach to weight savings, and on this generation, BMW fashions the front and rear suspension links from aluminum, as well as the hood and the fenders. Carbon fiber is used for the roof, the driveshaft, and the trunklid. While the M3 and M4 are identical in many ways and share many part numbers, that trunk is one of the bigger differences. Engineers tell us that they wanted the two cars to have the same aerodynamic properties, but the airflow over the coupe’s shorter roof would have required a large spoiler, which designers didn’t want. Instead, they formed a new trunklid with an integrated ducktail spoiler. The thinking was, “if you’re going to do it, do it right.” So while they were designing the new lid, they designed it with a carbon-fiber inner structure and fiberglass outer skin.
Rubber bushings between the regular 4-series rear subframe and the unibody allow the assembly to squirm under duress, diluting handling precision. Here, there are no rubber bushings. The subframe is bolted directly to the unibody for a more rigid structure. This, plus additional bracing and stiffer suspension, results in a car that is vastly more responsive and immediate than the regular 4-series. The M4 thus is also more eager to let its tail step out. Once that happens, though, it’s easy to hang it out there and control your slip angle or snap it back into line. It’s a total gas, supremely responsive and controllable.
Electric power steering also saves weight in the M4, and its fantastic weighting can be tailored from Popeye (Sport+) to Olive Oyl (Comfort), with Sport being a comfortable yet meaty middle ground for the majority. While the weighting changes, the numbness never does, but the steering is so immediate and so precise that it feels unfair to complain about a lack of feel. There are few better steering racks overall on the market. As did the outgoing M3, the M4 will offer a choice between a six-speed manual transmission and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. This is perfectly acceptable, as it gives us an excuse to test more derivatives of the car. Like seemingly every other one of the car’s systems, the dual-clutch ’box has three settings. The most aggressive slams into the next gear too hard for street use, but we were annoyed that the slower settings also take longer to respond to commands from the paddles. If you want your shift to occur immediately after you pull the paddle, you get harsh shifts. This is just one more reason to order the manual, in which every shift parameter is infinitely variable. Another reason is pricing. With the manual, an M4 starts at $65,125. The automatic is another $2900, so when you spend money on one of these this summer, we recommend reserving that sum for tires.
And you should spend money on one. We’ve questioned a lot of the changes BMW has made to its vehicles lately, wondering whether the company is building on its successes or just changing its cars and making them more complicated simply because it could. The F32 4-series may not be exactly the 3-series we want it to be, but the M4 is unquestionably an M3.