BMW 4-Series (F32)


Debut: 2013
Maker: BMW
Predecessor: 3-Series Coupe (E92) / M3 (E92)



 Published on 24 Jul 2013 All rights reserved. 

3-Series Coupe becomes 4-Series. Is it different enough to justify the new name?


The birth of 4-Series means the end of 3-Series Coupe, sadly. To understand why BMW decided to split the car into a separate series, we have to look back to its history. When the first 3-Series (E21) debuted in 1975, there was no issue about how to distinguish the coupe and sedan because it was available in 2-door body only. 4-door did not arrive until the second generation (E30), but even then the only difference was the number of doors. More differentiations came in E36 of 1990, when the 2-door got a faster windscreen, lower roof line and frameless windows hence finally the "Coupe" moniker. Further differentiations were introduced in the following E46 and E92 such that the 3-Series Coupe now looked different enough to claim itself a separate model, although underneath the sheet metal it was much the same as the sedan. Two things triggered the ultimate divorce. First, Audi launched A5, whose name and unique looks delivered a more upmarket image than either the A4 or the 3-Series Coupe, which was still considered by many to be the "3-Series 2-door". Second, BMW itself realized that by splitting the coupes from their sedan roots, it can price them higher and earn more profit. In this way, the 1, 3 and 5-Series are/will be derived into 2, 4 and 6 series coupe respectively (BTW, 7er may also be derived into 8-Series coupe if the Pininfarina Gran Lusso Coupe concept is approved for production). This will inevitably decrease the sales of 3-Series, but total sales will increase, hopefully.


The result is a shape that looks more like a mini-6-Series than a 2-door 3-Series...


To justify the separate name, the 4-Series differs from the 3-Series more than ever in exterior design, if not the mechanical aspect. In fact, with the exclusion of the shared bonnet, all body panels have been reshaped to appear sleeker and more flowing. The new kidney grille gets slimmer and more 3-dimensional. The front bumper gets rounder and incorporates more aggressive intakes (although most area is actually blocked out). The front fender is enhanced with inverted-L-shape air extract, which looks elegant yet helps reducing aerodynamic drag. The shoulders get broader to look sportier and accommodate wider tracks. Speaking of tracks, you will be amazed to hear it is wider than the sedan by 45 mm front and 80 mm rear. Meanwhile, the roof has been lowered by as much as 67 mm, or 13 mm lower than the old coupe, while ride height is reduced by 10 mm. The result is a shape that looks more like a mini-6-Series than a 2-door 3-Series. In other words, it looks stylish.


The interior remains common to the 3-Series in order to save costs.


While exterior design has finally become a selling point of the coupe, the interior remains common to the 3-Series in order to save costs. Although the dashboard functions flawlessly and the build quality is good, it looks and feels too ordinary for a sporting model, lacking the exclusivity you would expect from its exterior design. On the plus side, the cabin offers good accommodation for a coupe of this size. The faster roof line might have reduced rear headroom by 13 mm compared with the old coupe, but rear legroom is boosted by the same amount. This mean the two individual rear seats still offer enough room for normal size adults. It is a genuine 4-seater, something Audi A5, Cadillac CTS Coupe and Infiniti G37 Coupe cannot claim. As you can expect, the driver seat and driving position are excellent. You sit 19 mm closer to the ground than in the case of the sedan, so it feels adequately sporty.


The faster roof line reduces rear headroom by 13 mm, but rear legroom is boosted by the same amount.


Mechanical-wise, the 4-Series remains to be largely 3-Series. Its steel monocoque chassis is 25 kg lighter than its predecessor's yet the front structure is 60 percent stiffer, thanks to 2 additional braces connected between the front subframe and the body. BMW did not reveal its torsional rigidity figure, but its 2-door body is unquestionably stiffer than the 3-Series'. In addition to the wider tracks, lower center of gravity and stiffer springs and bushings, it should be more capable in maneuvering. Like the sedan, adaptive dampers and variable-ratio electrical power steering are optionally available together with the M Sport package.

On the road, it drives exactly like a 3-Series sedan with slightly sharper handling, better grip and tauter body control. The difference is not huge, but enough for a coupe intended to be an everyday car. As in the case of the 3-Series, it is well balanced, agile and eager to steer, but the electrical power steering is a tad too light and artificial for a sporting machine. Naturally, the ride is firmer than the sedan. If the most aggressive 19-inch wheels and low-profile tires (225/40 front and 255/35 rear) are taken, it could be overly firm, failing to match the suppleness of its predecessor. Fortunately, you can switch the adaptive dampers to Comfort mode if you want relaxed cruising.


It drives exactly like a 3-Series sedan with slightly sharper handling, better grip and tauter body control.


The least worth mentioning aspect of the car is the range of engines, because they come straight from the 3-Series. Initially, these include the 184 hp 2.0 turbo diesel (420d), 245 hp 2.0 turbo petrol (428i) and the range-topping 306 hp 3.0 straight-six turbo petrol (435i). Later on they will be joined with 184 hp 2.0 turbo petrol (420i), 258 hp 3.0 turbo diesel (430d) and 313 hp 3.0 sequential twin-turbo diesel (435d). All of them are good engines, but the fact that they are no more powerful than the equivalent 3-Series sedans is not so amusing, especially when the 4-Series is pricier and supposed to be more performance-oriented. In the case of 435i, the situation is even more embarrassing as its engine is carried over from the last generation 335i coupe. We used to be excited with the 335i because at that time it was a performance bargain. Now the same 0-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds (or 4.9 seconds for the excellent ZF 8-speed auto) is no longer that special. It will be remembered for its silky and lag-free power delivery more than outright performance. For sure, BMW is capable to extract more firepower and a sportier exhaust note from the N55, as shown in the M135i, but it would rather leave those to the optional M Performance package, which won't be cheap.


435i will be remembered for its silky and lag-free power delivery more than outright performance.


Is the 4-Series special enough to be worth the separate name? I don't think so. Although it looks more stylish than ever, its underpinnings are pure 3-Series stuffs, whereas the powertrain and chassis tuning is too civilized. The 335i is now more like a laid-back luxury coupe than a junior M3 (well, that should be M4 now). Having said that, in the world of mid-price 4-seater coupes, the BMW is still the best all-rounder. It offers a pretty shape, genuine 4-seat accommodation, good build quality, good performance, refined powertrains and fine ride and handling. No one else can quite match its completeness.
Verdict: 
 Published on 29 Jan 2014 All rights reserved. 
4-Series Cabriolet (F33)

One of the few survivors of coupe-cabriolet.


The fever of coupe-cabriolet rose and fell quickly in the past decade. At the peak we had no fewer than 17 coupe-cabriolets to chose from, not including roadsters. Now that list is reduced to only 3. As far as I can remember, casualties include Volvo C70, Peugeot 207CC, 308CC, Ford Focus CC, Opel Astra TwinTop, Tigra TwinTop, Renault Wind, Daihatsu Copen, Nissan Micra C+C, Mitsubishi Colt CZC, Lexus SC430, IS C, Chrysler 200 Convertible and Pontiac G6 Convertible. Gone or hurt seriously together with them are their makers, i.e. Heuliez, Pininfarina, Bertone and Karmann. One of the few survivors is BMW 3-Series Cabriolet – okay, it should be called 4-Series Cabriolet now. It escapes from the axe not because it found a better solution than its rivals. No, the new car is just as heavy as it used to be, carrying a massive 225 kg of extra burden compared with the equivalent coupe. Its boot space is marginally larger than before, but at 220 liters with the roof stored or 370 liters with the roof up it is still very compromised, uses space far less efficiently than a typical soft top. The CC conversion also damages aesthetic considerably. It loses the fast-angle C-pillar of the Coupe and adds a bulky boot.

So why does BMW stick with retractable metal roof? I suppose because it is engineered and built in-house since the very beginning. It would be painful to write off the investment (R&D and production equipment) with just one generation built. After all, its sales wasn't bad enough to declare surrender yet.


It carries a massive 225 kg of extra burden compared with the equivalent coupe.


As before, the metal roof consists of 3 pieces and takes a very sophisticated mechanism to fold into the boot. Open or close is quick enough at 20 seconds. Improved sound absorbing materials used on the roof lining helps cutting interior noise by up to 2dB in high-speed cruising, so it feels impressively refined with the roof up. When the roof is opened, it doesn't manage buffeting as good as Mercedes E-class Cabriolet, so you might need the optional wind blocker, which is installed manually behind the front seats. It is not only inconvenient to use but also looks ugly and renders the rear seats useless. Speaking of rear seats, they are a little tighter than E-class'. Otherwise the interior is just the same as other 3 and 4 series.

With extra reinforcement, the chassis feels stiff enough in coupe form. BMW claims its rigidity is 40% up from the old car. Nevertheless, in open form there is still noticeable scuttle shake riding on uneven surfaces, which hurts driving confidence. Meanwhile, the massive weight also hurts its handling. You can never escape from the feel that the back end carries a heavy load. It leans and understeers quite a lot more than the coupe or anything we expected for BMW. Its steering feels quite vague, hesitating a while before executing your command. Admittedly, all these might sound normal for other makes, but if you have driven the 4-Series Coupe or even the 3-Series sedan you can't help feeling disappointing, because you know its ingredients can do more.


In open form there is still noticeable scuttle shake riding on uneven surfaces, which hurts driving confidence.


Performance also suffers from the weight. Even though 435i Cabriolet claims 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds, it doesn't feel so quick. However, if you chase for a relaxed and effortless open-air motoring, then the combination of turbocharged straight-six and 8-speed auto will be a perfect companion, as it delivers a smooth and flexible progress. You will need to work harder on the lesser 428i (245hp 2.0 turbo) or 420d (184 hp 2.0 turbo diesel).

The 4-Series Cabriolet is a disappointment. Think what could have been done if it was converted to soft top, knocking off 100 kilograms, and if its chassis was strengthened further. Before then, Mercedes E-class Cabriolet is still a better bet, especially after the recent facelift.
Verdict:
 Published on 18 May 2014 All rights reserved. 
BMW M4 (F82)

Downgraded from V8 to straight-6, can turbocharging make up the loss?


The biggest news about the new M3 is not its separation into M4 coupe and M3 sedan, because while they look different their underpinnings are actually the same. What made headlines is the switch from V8 to straight-6 power. At first it sounds like back to basics, but think again, it is not that simple. To understand the cause of the change we have to go back many years ago…

The M3 has long been regarded as the definitive coupe you can buy with reasonable money and use on daily basis. Even at the peak of Japanese coupe boom (i.e. the early 1990s) the BMW remained the most sensible choice if you looked for a coupe that was fast, fun to drive yet practical to use. A lot of its charm came from the fabulous straight-six I would say. No matter the 286 hp 3.0-liter, 321 hp 3.2-liter or 343 hp 3.25-liter motors that served the E36 and E46 era, they were renowned for a high-revving manner, razor-sharp throttle response and sonorous soundtrack that no one else at affordable segments could quite rival. As a result, its sales skyrocketed, from 19,000 units of the four-cylinder first generation to 71,000 units of E36 and then 86,000 units of E46. It went from a motorsport homologation special to a big business.

However, when Audi RS4 and Mercedes C55 AMG brought V8 power into the scene, the M3 had no choice but to respond with a 4.0-liter V8. Yes, it successfully retained the high-revving manner and pushed performance even further, but the E92 lost some agility due to the extra strengthening and rubbers required to withstand the increased power. Moreover, it also cost a lot more to buy. Even though BMW tried to broaden its appeal with the introduction of sedan and convertible bodies, its final sales figure declined to 65,000 units, way fewer than the 100,000 units originally planned. A lesson was learnt: more means fewer.


Inevitably, some of the high-revving sensation will be lost in the process...


Naturally, reverting to 6-cylinder motor is the answer. The problem is, you need to turbocharge it to keep performance while meeting modern demands for reduced fuel consumption and emission. Inevitably, some of the high-revving sensation will be lost in the process.

All previous M3 engines were bespoke design by the M-division. Unlike them, the new car's S55B30 motor is derived from the mass production 3-liter straight-six turbo designated N55. Disappointingly, it retains the latter's undersquare combustion chambers with 84 mm bore and 89.6 mm stroke, hence the same 2979 c.c. displacement. The cylinder head accompanied with Bi-Vanos and Valvetronic mechanisms as well as direct injection are carried over. The cylinder block is new though, as it adopts close-deck design to improve rigidity. The M-division's lightweight pistons and forged steel crankshaft are employed to reduce rotational mass and raise rev limit to 7600 rpm – though that is no match with the 8400 rpm limit of the old V8. The cylinder bore is treated with twin-wire arc spray (like AMG 6.2-liter V8) to reduce friction. Meanwhile, the single turbocharger of N55 is replaced with 2 IHI turbos to pump more air into the combustion chambers. They are not particularly large – in fact, smaller than those used by the old 1-Series M – thus maximum boost pressure is only 1.3 bar. They are closely coupled to the exhaust manifolds to reduce lag. The compressed fresh air is then transferred to the water-to-air intercooler, which is mounted at the top of the engine, offset to the opposite side of the tilted engine. This ensures the shortest possible air path thus reduces turbo lag.

The result is a remarkable 431 horsepower released from 5500 to 7300 rpm, and a maximum torque of 406 pound-foot available from as low as 1850 rpm to 5500 rpm. The former edges out the old V8 by 11 hp, but what makes a huge difference is the thick mid-range torque, because the old V8 managed only 295 lbft at 3900 rpm. The M3 and M4 can now accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4 seconds flat if you opt for the M-DCT gearbox, whereas its speed regulation can be lifted from the usual 155 mph to 174 mph if you tick the M driver pack. They are now convincingly faster than Mercedes C63 AMG and Audi RS5.


Unlike all the previous M3 engines, the S55B30 motor is derived from the mass production N55...


There are more indicators to its superiority. Nurburgring lap time, for example, is claimed to be cut by 15 seconds from the old M3. Meanwhile, fuel economy is boosted from a dismal 24 mpg to 34 mpg, while CO2 emission is drastically reduced from 285 to 194 grams each km. Needless to say, part of the saving comes from the Efficiency mode of the powertrain and the overdrive 7th.

Yes, the new turbo six does feel considerably stronger and more flexible than the old V8 in the real world. For a high performance turbocharged motor with over 140 horsepower per liter, its turbo lag is remarkably subtle, though its throttle response is nowhere as quick as its naturally aspirated predecessors. Its output feels strong from 2000 rpm and even spectacular from 3500 to 5500 rpm, where you can rely on the superior mid-range torque to give sensational in-gear acceleration. The engine revs to 7600 rpm without much resistance, but you won't be rewarded with any extra punch as the torque curve tails off after 5500 rpm. Consequently, you tend to adopt a more relaxing driving style, scaling back throttle and gearchange, relying solely on the mid-range torque to do the job. This lack of encouragement and the aforementioned soft throttle response mean the car is not as inspiring to drive as a traditional M3 should, sadly.

The lack of aural thrills is another big problem. All previous M3s, especially the V8, produced magical noises approaching the top end of their spectrums. In contrast, the new turbo six sounds dull across the rev range. At idle it sounds almost like a turbo diesel, blame to the strange diesel clatter. At full throttle it is very loud but hardly musical. To mask the unattractive noise BMW uses a sound synthesizer to play a V8 bass through the speakers (seems that they do care about the loss of V8). Unfortunately it sounds too much artificial. Purists should be displeased.


The engine revs to 7600 rpm without much resistance, but you won't be rewarded with any extra punch or aural thrills...


While the engine is a disappointment, the rest of the car is not. The new ZF 6-speed manual gearbox shifts sweetly, especially with the addition of automatic throttle blipping. The Getrag 7-speed M-DCT works well as long as you leave it in the middle (Sport) setting. Just avoid the Lazy and Harsh modes. The active M differential varies torque split between the rear wheels to control under and oversteer. The brakes, a traditional weak point of the M3, is sorted out with the use of larger compound discs (380 mm front and 370 mm rear) and stronger calipers (4-piston front and 2-piston rear). Moreover, if you are willing to pay more, you can get an excellent set of Brembo carbon ceramic brakes.

The chassis also plays an important role. As before, the M4 is the only car in its class that achieves perfect static balance (the actual figure is 49.6:50.4 front-to-rear). Moreover, it manages to cut 83 kg from the old M3, bringing its kerb weight back to the level of E46. As the smaller engine contributes to only 10 kg reduction – a testament to the lightweight design of the old V8, more savings come from the extensive use of lightweight materials elsewhere. For example, the bonnet and front fenders are made of aluminum. The roof panel (as before) and boot lid frames are carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), while the boot lid skin is glass-fiber. This mean the only steel parts remaining in the body shell are the rear fenders and doors. Under the skin, the propeller shaft is now made of CFRP, ditto the U-shape front suspension tower brace that stiffens the front structure and contributes a lot to visual drama. At the suspension, all control arms and wheel carriers are now made of forged aluminum, saving 8 kg.

In order to sharpen chassis response, the new M3/M4 has ditched the rubber bushings connected between the chassis and suspension subframes. A more predictable upgrade is the addition of adaptive dampers as option. They are linked to the driver control system that allows you to adjust chassis behaviour independent of the powertrain setting. There are 3 modes: Comfort, Sport and Sport+, with the former designed for relaxed driving and the latter destined to none other than glass-smooth race tracks. Beside them there is an M-mode which allows you to save your favourite combinations. These modes alter not only the suspension hardness but also the response of the new electrical power steering, M differential and stability control.


Accelerate out of a slow corner with too much enthusiasm, the turbos will spool up and trigger a rush of power, sliding the tail suddenly...


Thanks to the combined effect of reduced weight and rigidly mounted suspension subframes, the M4 feels sharper and more agile than the old car. The turn-in is ultra-sharp, thanks in no doubt to the electrical power steering which is direct, precise and linearly weighted. It could do with more feel, but it won't feel shame beside a Porsche 911.

The ride is definitely stiff – so stiff that not even Comfort mode can bring too much comfort. However, the resultant rock-steady body control and excellent balance let you attack corners with full confidence. The massive Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, measuring 255/35ZR19 front and 275/35ZR19 rear, generate immense grip. The front-end bite is extraordinary for an FR machine, resisting understeer masterfully. The rear tires offer excellent traction and grip, too. Nevertheless, the turbocharged engine has enough grunt to slide the rear rubbers at anytime, anywhere should the driver do that deliberately. It plays power drift just as fluently as any old M3s, allowing the driver to control the slip angle with throttle. The progressive way the tires break away means you have plenty of time and feedback to make correction. That said, there are moments that need your caution: for example, accelerate out of a slow corner with too much enthusiasm, the turbos will spool up and trigger a rush of power, sliding the tail suddenly. It is not difficult to bring it back to line, but it does shock you in a way none of its naturally aspirated predecessors would.

That slight reservation means nothing when you consider its improved agility and response. However, the new M4 fails to score top rating due to its turbocharged straight-six. Its dull noise and loss of ultra-sharp throttle response might be acceptable for a Jaguar or Audi, but not a BMW M-car. Considering the high level of engagement its predecessor brought, it is a big disappointment. Is it an inevitable outcome of turbocharging? I doubt. When an AMG 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 can make a thrilling noise, it means BMW's engineers did not do the best job. Right now, Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe remains to be the most engaging car in the class.
Verdict:
 Published on 25 May 2014 All rights reserved. 
4-Series Gran Coupe (F36)

The 4-Series is supposed to be the 2-door, sportier and sleeker looking version of the 3-Series, but why do you add 2 more doors to it and raise its roof line a bit?


Life looked simpler and easier in the good old days. Until 15 years ago BMW was still making limited number of product lines with clearly distinguished purposes – the 3, 5 and 7-Series were saloons in different classes, 6-Series was a luxury coupe and Z3 / Z4 was a roadster. That’s all. Today, its lineup is expanded to cover not only every number from 1 to 7-Series but also X1, X3, X4, X5 and X6. Furthermore, more spin-offs are derived from each series. These include the 3 and 5-Series GT (i.e. crossover between saloon and MPV), and lately the 4 and 6-Series Gran Coupe (i.e. crossover between saloon and coupe). I suspect in the near future it may expand further to Shooting Brakes like Mercedes-Benz.

Inevitably, the more number of variants, the more their survival space overlaps. This situation also happens at Audi, where A4 and A5 Sportback are stealing sales from each other. In the case of BMW 3 and 4-Series, the overlapping is even severe. While it is easy to understand the differences between 3-Series saloon and 4-Series Coupe or Cabriolet, it is not so easy to establish a case for the 3-Series GT or 4-Series Gran Coupe. BMW might tell you the 3er GT is a larger, roomier and more luggage-friendly kind of 3er, but doesn't that sound like a 5-Series Touring?


It is not as sleek or as beautiful as BMW would lead you believe...


The 4-Series is supposed to be the 2-door, sportier and sleeker looking version of the 3-Series, but why do you add 2 more doors to it and raise its roof line a bit to create the 4er GC? BMW would tell you the GC is still lower and sleeker than the 3er saloon. Yes, but it is not as sleek or as beautiful as BMW would lead you believe. Moreover, by adding a hatchback door and extra reinforcement to compensate the large opening, the car is actually 80 kg heavier than the equivalent 3-Series saloon. This mean the supposedly sportier car is actually the slower, engine by engine. And it affords less headroom, not least because of the 40 mm drop of roof but also the pronounced header required by the hinges of tailgate. Rear passengers over 5 ft 10 tall will find their heads rubbing against the roof liner.

You might say BMW can dial up the turbo boost of its engines to get more performance. Unfortunately, it sticks to the policy of common engines, so all the 7 engines available – 143 hp 418d, 184hp 420d, 258hp 430d, 313hp 435d, 184hp 420i, 245hp 428i and 306hp 435i – are indistinguishable from the saloon. Ditto the 6-speed manual and 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox.


Rear passengers over 5 ft 10 tall will find their heads rubbing against the roof liner.


Unbelievably, the biggest advantage of the Gran Coupe over the 3-Series is luggage carrying capability. Although both boots measure 480 liters, the GC's liftback allows easier loading, and its 40/20/40-split rear seats may fold flat to expand load bay, which is good for placing bike or surf boards. A 3-Series Touring swallows even more, but it won’t match the 4-Series GC for looks.

Although the rear seats offer less headroom, legroom is just as generous as the 3-Series, thanks to the same 2810 mm wheelbase. I would prefer its dashboard and trims to look more special, but like other 4-Series models, the idea was rejected on the ground of cost. This mean it has to settle with a slightly boring dash design and a perception of mass production build quality. Here, it is well beaten by the new Mercedes C-class.


Frameless windows means more road roar to be heard, but otherwise it drives similar to the 3er.


Just like other BMW coupes, the GC employs frameless windows to enhance looks. This might be the reason why you can hear more road roar from the tires. Otherwise, it drives similar to the 3-Series. The chassis displays remarkable balance and grip. The steering is direct, precise and nicely weighted. With the adaptive damping set to Sport mode, it feels almost like a sports sedan. The GC employs slightly stiffer suspension than the saloon. The difference is small, but you can feel its extra agility – especially because you sit closer to the ground in this car – as well as marginally harsher ride. Nevertheless, such a slim difference might not justify the loss of rear seat accommodation and acoustic refinement. Neither does its looks justify the price premium of 10 percent. To me, the 3-Series Saloon is still the more sensible buy, while image seekers should always choose the 4-Series Coupe.
Verdict:
 Published on 19 May 2016
All rights reserved. 
M4 GTS

Water injection injects a new lease of life into the most hardcore 4-Series.


Remember the last generation M3 GTS? It was the hardcore, track-focused version of M3 Coupe, having an extra 30 horsepower and 50 kg less weight than the standard car. Now the GTS badge returns with M4. Headline news is 500 horsepower from the same 3-liter twin-turbo straight-six. That's a significant increase from the standard car's 431 hp. Meanwhile, peak torque is lifted from 406 to 442 lbft at 4000-5500 rpm. How can it achieve that? Surprisingly simple, by using water injection. BMW said this is the first production road car to employ this motorsport technology. In the M4 GTS, a 5-liter water tank is added under the boot floor. Water spray is injected to the intake manifolds (after intercooler) at 10 bar, then it is evaporated, cools the air intake from 70°C to 45°C, makes the air denser while increases resistance to knock. The latter effect allows the use of 1.5 bar turbo boost pressure instead of 1.3 bar, which accounts for the increased output. Since there is no modification to the engine internals, the straight-six's maximum rev is still bounded at 7600 rpm, while max power is released at 6250 rpm. M-power hardcores could be a bit disappointed.

However, its performance is unlikely to disappoint. The GTS lapped Nurburgring in 7 minutes and 28 seconds, slotting between a Porsche 991 GT3 (7:25) and new 991.2 Carrera S turbo (7:34). On the straight, it would do 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds or three-tenths faster than the standard M4. The electronic speed regulation is lifted from 174 to 190 mph.

Unsurprisingly, the car is equipped with 7-speed M-DCT exclusively because manual gearbox could not match its performance requirement. Power is put down to the road through track-oriented Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubbers (like 911 GT3 RS), which are 10 mm wider and, in case of rear ones, an inch larger in diameter. They are wrapped around bespoke forged alloy wheels with 10-pointed star design.


Cabin is obviously designed to save weight.


At 1510 kg on DIN scale, the new GTS is only 27 kg lighter than the standard M4 DCT. This is not too much of surprise because the M4 already employs quite a lot of aluminum and carbon-fiber in its construction. The GTS employs even more carbon-fiber, such as the bonnet (vs aluminum in M4) and boot lid (vs glassfiber), although the steel door shells seem to be carried over for the sake of crash protection (probably too costly to re-engineer and certify). Of course, all the extra aero kits, such as front splitter, diffusers and that signature rear spoiler, are also made of carbon-fiber. The titanium exhaust muffler saves 7 kilograms. However, most weight saving seems to come from the cabin. The carbon-fiber racing buckets weigh half as much as the standard items on M4. The center console and door panels are lightened (like Porsche, door handles are replaced with fabric pull bands). The rear seats are ditched and replaced with a glass-fiber panel. The orange roll bar spotted in this picture comes with Clubsport package, which also includes racing harnesses and a fire extinguisher. Order this pack if you go track racing.

In the chassis, there are some modifications. The suspensions skip adaptive dampers but are now served with coil-over springs/dampers, whose compression, rebound and ride height are adjustable if you don't mind to use a spanner to do the dirty work. Needless to say, the suspension tuning is different, with 60 percent stiffer springs, thicker anti-roll bars and more negative camber. The electrical power steering is basically unchanged except a software retune, but the steering column is now mounted rigidly without rubber bushings to enhance feedback. Lastly but not least, the steel brakes are replaced with carbon-ceramic items to allow lap after lap of abuse.

Outside, the front splitter and rear spoiler are both adjustable (again by tools). In their most aggressive settings, the car generates 12 kg and 40 kg downforce at the front and rear axle respectively when travelling at 124 mph. Not quite the league of Ferrari or 911 GT3 RS though.


The straight-six screams louder and angrier. In curves, the GTS is a much different animal...


Like the last generation M3 GTS, the M4 GTS is both exclusive and expensive. Only 700 units will be built, each charges £120,000 before options, which matches an Audi R8 V10, Porsche 911 Turbo, 911 GT3 RS or Aston Martin V12 Vantage S. The same money can buy you 2 standard M4s. It seems a bit mad to me.

So how does it feel on road? If you are disappointed with the M4 like us, the first sign of GTS should be positive – its straight-six screams louder and angrier than the standard car, thanks to that crackling exhaust note and reduced sound insulation. It feels stronger, too, but don’t think it can recapture the soul of traditional M-power when chasing redline, because its power delivery is still typically turbocharged. It doesn't have much turbo lag to overcome, but it is not enthusiastic to rev beyond its rather low power peak, something the new 911 Carrera S does better.

Fortunately, in curves the GTS is a much different animal. Its passive suspension is very firm on road, but it keeps body movement to the minimum. More important, the Cup tires generate massive grip. On the standard M4, the engine’s tremendous torque could easily unstick the rear rubbers and run into oversteer, so its handling is sometimes nervous. In contrast, the M4 GTS not only grips harder but it remains superbly balanced – it resists both understeer and oversteer remarkably, a rare achievement for an FR. You can exploit the car much harder yet with more confidence. The steering also feels more direct and communicative than the standard helm. At the limit, the chassis runs into either sides of neutral with a progressive manner, so it is a perfect tool for track days.

Ultimately, the M4 GTS cannot quite match a Porsche 911 GT3 RS, or to lesser extent the cheaper GT3, which offers noticeably more traction, a bit better steering feel, brake feel and a much much sweeter engine. The BMW’s stiff and non-adjustable ride is also more compromised for road use. And would you pay more money than those hardcore Porsches for an M4 with wings? That’s why its production volume has to be very limited.
Verdict:
 Published on 6 Jun 2017
All rights reserved. 
M4 CS


£90K is a lot of money for an M4. What does it bring you?


I am a little regret for overlooking the M4 Competition package launched last year. Generally speaking, I don’t bother to spend time on something called “pack”, because only fools would market a sizeable upgrade as “pack”. Somehow, the Competition pack does improve the M4 quite a lot, mainly because the chassis setup of the standard car left a lot to be desired. Its potential had not been unlocked until the Competition pack brought stiffer suspension springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, and has its electronics recalibrated (steering, stability control, active M differential and drive modes). The result is sharper handling and a more forgiving manner at the limit. The pack also brought an extra 19 horsepower to a total of 450, cutting 0-60 by a tenth.

In the UK market, a standard M4 DCT now costs £60K. The Competition pack adds £5K on that, while the track-oriented, 500-horsepower GTS tops out at an eye-popping £120K. Apparently, there is space for another model sitting in the gulf between Competition pack and GTS, and here comes the £89K M4 CS. BMW did not explain what CS stands for, but I guess Club Sport could be an answer. It will be more hardcore than the Competition pack, but cheaper and more usable on the road than GTS. Not just M4, but the M3 and M2 will get CS treatment as well soon.

Although the car is expected to be relatively rare – about 1000 units will be made per annum for the next 2 years – nearly £90K is a lot of money for a coupe based on mass production design, i.e. the 4 and 3-series. For comparison, a Mercedes-AMG C63 S costs “only” £70K even though it has a V8 engine to shine, while the new Audi RS5 Quattro asks for only £63K. Even a Porsche 911 Carrera S demands only £87K. How can the M4 CS justify so much money?

The answer is more grunt, less weight and retuned chassis. Hardware-wise, the 3-liter twin-turbo straight-six is unchanged, but its ECU is remapped to release another 10 hp over the Competition for a total of 460 hp. Most important, its maximum torque is lifted by 37 lbft to 442 lbft, equaling the GTS despite the lack of water injection technology. Although BMW people decline to talk about specific changes, it seems to me that only a slight increase of turbo boost could account for this extra grunt, which is noticeable in the mid-range and gives the car better in-gear acceleration. The car now feels as fast as anything in the class, C63 S and Alfa Giulia QF included. Meanwhile, the engine sound is also a tad better, louder (thanks to less sound deadening) and more guttural, even though it is no match for AMG V8 or the titanium-exhaust GTS.



Sharper, faster, more communicative and predictable to exploit... but it ain't a 911.


The CS employs only M-DCT gearbox in order to achieve a Nurburgring lap time of 7:38. Although BMW is one of the first to employ dual-clutch gearbox, it is no longer the leader. The alternatives found on Porsche and Audi are simply better. The M-DCT is still very fast in its sportiest mode, but it comes with a violent manner you won’t find in its rivals.

The CS is 32 kg lighter than the standard M4 DCT. It seeks weight saving from a carbon-fiber bonnet, diffusers and rear spoiler, as well as manually-adjustable sport seats, Spartan door panels (with GT3-style fabric door pulls), reduced sound insulation, downgraded climate control, audio and infotainment systems. However, it keeps the essential air-con and the rear seat.

Its suspension setup is the same as the Competition, which means stiffer springs, anti-roll bars and dampers, but it is fitted with lighter forged alloy wheels and wider, stickier Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires like the GTS. The latter has a decisive influence to its handling behavior. BMW tailors the adaptive dampers, stability control, power steering and M differential software to suit the new rubbers. On the road, it feels better than the Competition pack again, with more roadholding, flatter cornering, quicker turn-in and more progressive transition into oversteer at the limit. The stickier front rubbers clear the slight hesitation of the electric power steering, resulting in a more connected feel and giving you far more confidence to exploit the chassis. Meanwhile, the suspension still rides over bumps competently. At attacking speed, vertical motion is better controlled, so it actually feels more composed.

The weakest link of the car is braking. The standard M4 is already weak on this aspect (a BMW tradition). The CS keeps its cast iron discs with 4-pot calipers up front and 2-pot at the rear. After a couple of laps of abuse, its pedal softens and stopping power fades. Carbon-ceramic brakes are available, but need extra cash, which is unreasonable for a £90K M4. Yes, the M4 CS is easily the best M4 for road use, being sharper, faster yet more communicative and more predictable to exploit, but it is no replacement for a dedicated sports car like Porsche 911.
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight

Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)

0-100 mph (sec)

428i (430i) Coupe
2013 (2016)
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel
4638 / 1825 / 1362 mm
2810 mm
Inline-4
1997 cc (1998 cc)
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT, VVL
Turbo
DI
245 hp (252 hp)
258 lbft (258 lbft)
6-spd manual or 8-spd auto
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
225/50WR17

6M: 1450 kg (1490 kg)
8A: 1470 kg (1510 kg)
155 mph (limited)
6M: 5.6 (c) (5.6 (c))
8A: 5.3* (5.5 (c))
8A: 14.5*

435i (440i) Coupe
2013 (2016)
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel
4638 / 1825 / 1362 mm
2810 mm
Inline-6
2979 cc (2998 cc)
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT, VVL
Turbo
DI
306 hp (326 hp)
295 lbft (332 lbft)
6-spd manual or 8-spd auto
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 225/40ZR19
R: 255/35ZR19
6M: 1510 kg (1540 kg)
8A: 1525 kg (1555 kg)
155 mph (limited)
6M: 5.1 (c) / 5.2* (5.0 (c))
8A: 4.9 (c) (4.8 (c) / 4.4*)
6M: 12.2*
8A: (10.8*)
435i (440i) Cabriolet
2014 (2016)
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel
4638 / 1825 / 1384 mm
2810 mm
Inline-6
2979 cc (2998 cc)
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT, VVL
Turbo
DI
306 hp (326 hp)
295 lbft (332 lbft)
8-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 225/40ZR19
R: 255/35ZR19
1750 kg (1770 kg)

155 mph (limited)
5.2 (c) (5.1 (c))

-





Performance tested by: *C&D





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)

0-100 mph (sec)

M4
2014
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel, aluminum, carbon-fiber
4671 / 1870 / 1383 mm
2812 mm
Inline-6
2979 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT, VVL
Twin-turbo
DI
431 hp / 5500-7300 rpm
406 lbft / 1850-5500 rpm
6-spd manual or 7-spd twin-clutch
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 255/35ZR19
R: 275/35ZR19
6M: 1497 kg / DCT: 1537 kg
174 mph (limited)
6M: 4.2 (c) / 4.1**
DCT: 4.0 (c) / 4.1*/ 3.9**/ 4.0***
6M: 9.0**
DCT: 8.8* / 8.6** / 8.9***
M4 GTS
2016
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel, aluminum, carbon-fiber
4671 / 1870 / 1383 mm
2812 mm
Inline-6
2979 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT, VVL
Twin-turbo
DI, water injection
500 hp / 6250 rpm
442 lbft / 4000-5500 rpm
7-speed twin-clutch
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
F: 265/35ZR19
R: 285/30ZR20
1510 kg
190 mph (limited)
3.7 (c) / 3.5****

7.9****

M4 CS
2017
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel, aluminum, carbon-fiber
4671 / 1870 / 1383 mm
2812 mm
Inline-6
2979 cc
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT, VVL
Twin-turbo
DI
460 hp / 6250 rpm
442 lbft / 4000-5380 rpm
7-speed twin-clutch
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 265/35ZR19
R: 285/30ZR20
1505 kg
174 mph (limited)
3.8 (c)

-





Performance tested by: *Autocar, **C&D, ***MT, ****R&T





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
428i (430i) Gran Coupe
2014 (2016)
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel
4638 / 1825 / 1389 mm
2810 mm
Inline-4
1997 cc (1998 cc)
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT, VVL
Turbo
DI
245 hp (252 hp)
258 lbft (258 lbft)
8-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
225/50WR17

1530 kg (1540 kg)
155 mph (limited)
5.7 (c) / 5.5** (5.6 (c))
14.9**
435i (440i) Gran Coupe
2014 (2016)
Front-engined, RWD
Steel monocoque
Steel
4638 / 1825 / 1389 mm
2810 mm
Inline-6
2979 cc (2998 cc)
DOHC 24 valves, DVVT, VVL
Turbo
DI
306 hp (326 hp)
295 lbft (332 lbft)
8-speed automatic
F: strut
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
F: 225/40ZR19
R: 255/35ZR19
1585 kg (1615 kg)
155 mph (limited)
5.0 (c) / 4.9* (4.9 (c))
12.2*




























Performance tested by: *C&D




AutoZine Rating

4-Series Coupe


4-Series Gran Coupe


M4


M4 CS


M4 GTS



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