BMW M4 Competition Review
The BMW M4 may look controversial, with its oversized grille and zany colours, but keen drivers will love how it feels behind the wheel
Strengths & weaknesses
Some cars are good at one thing - whether that's being practical, cheap to run or fun to drive, for instance - yet few are as multi-talented as the BMW M4. This is a stylish, sporty-looking coupe that’s pretty much as fast and fun to drive as exotic sports cars from the likes of Porsche and Ferrari, yet also provides a reasonable size boot and plenty of interior space for passengers - both front and rear.
This version of the BMW M4 is only available as the high-spec Competition model in the UK. So the key statistics are a hefty 510hp from a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine, plus a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. Some markets can opt for a slower 480hp version that comes with either the eight-speed automatic gearbox or a six-speed manual, but that’s not available in the UK. You can also choose to have the car with standard rear-wheel-drive or opt for a four-wheel-drive ‘xDrive’ version, which offers greater traction when accelerating.
If you love your gadgets, you’ll feel right at home inside the M4. Everything from the suspension settings and the brake pedal sensitivity to how the engine responds to the accelerator and even what the exhaust sounds like can be adjusted from the driver’s seat. And if that sounds a little confusing, there are preset modes that are ready-made if you don’t want to delve too deeply into all those choices.
Go for the ‘Comfort’ setting, and the car’s electronic brain will smooth out the gear shifts, make the steering feel lighter and set the standard adaptive suspension to feel softer and more comfortable. Switch to the ‘Sport’ setting on the other hand and you’ll get firmer suspension, a sharper throttle response and a beefier, heavier feel to the steering. You can also set up your favourite combination of vehicle settings using the customisable ‘M1’ and ‘M2’ buttons on the steering wheel.
The result of all that power and technology is that the M4 Coupe is one of the most fun cars around at any price, a statement that remains true whether you choose the rear-wheel-drive car or the xDrive model.
The M4 has put on a bit of weight compared with the older M4, however. In fact, it’s around 150kg heavier - in the case of the rear-wheel-drive model - than the version that was on sale until 2020, weighing around 1,725kg. This means it gets from 0-62mph only a tenth of a second faster. That’s still just 3.9 seconds, mind you, which is seriously quick or an even more rapid 3.5 seconds for the four-wheel-drive model.
The interior is very similar to the regular 4 Series Coupe’s, but that’s only a good thing because it means it shares the smartly designed, thoughtfully laid out and well-built dashboard with the rest of the 4 Series (and 3 Series) range. It also gets the same 12-inch central information screen that’s touch-sensitive and also controllable via the rotary 'iDrive' controller, which can be easier to use on the move than prodding a touchscreen. A configurable digital instrument display also replaces the traditional speedometer and rev counter dials, while a head-up display is standard (it’s an option on other 4 Series models).
There’s also enough to set the M4 apart from the rest of the 4 Series range so that it feels that little bit more special - as befits its higher price point. Seatbelts trimmed in the blue, red and purple of BMW’s sport ‘M’ department that developed the car, a bright red starter button, and figure-hugging, heavily bolstered sports seats help remind you that you’re driving something a bit special. A lot of M4s will also be fitted with the optional M carbon bucket seats, which are lighter and put you lower in the car, which makes the driving experience feel even more sporty.
Should I get a BMW M4 Competition Coupe?
✔ Fast and fun to drive
✔ Bold, sporty styling
✔ Good size boot
✘ Weighs more than the older M4 model
✘ Rear headroom is a little tight
✘ Significantly more expensive than regular 4 Series
There’s so much grip and the M4 is simply so accelerative that you really need to be on a race circuit to be able to fully explore the performance limits of the M4’s capability. Yet it manages this at the same time as being perfectly practical as an everyday car - to the extent that you can even easily carry rear-seat passengers for relatively short journeys.
It’s a more grown-up car than its predecessor, but in many ways, it’s targeting a more grown up audience - BMW reckons buyers of the new M4 also have Porsche 911s and Aston Martins on their shopping list.
Yet it also offers similar levels of practicality to the Audi RS5 while being a much more rewarding car to drive. And if you still need a little more space or extra doors, well, there’s always the M3 saloon to consider.
|BMW M4 Competition Coupe||From £27,800: The only available M4 trim level is the Competition model. This is a well-equipped model that includes the likes of heated seats, a reversing camera and a head-up display as standard, plus the 510hp twin-turbo engine and eight-speed automatic gearbox. The only choice aside from options packs is whether to opt for the xDrive four-wheel-drive model or to stick with the rear-wheel-drive version.|
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The closest rivals for the BMW M4 are the Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe and the Audi RS5 Coupe, both of which are similarly sized four-seat high-performance coupes with roughly similar amounts of power - although the RS5 is actually a little bit less powerful, with 450hp.
Both the Audi and the Mercedes are based on older designs than the BMW, however, although a redesigned version of the C63 AMG arrives in 2022 with a four-cylinder turbocharged engine with hybrid electric power. This means that it's likely to sound a lot less dramatic than the older version - sounding more like a hot hatchback than a sports car. The older, V8-powered Mercedes sounds fantastic, though, and the Audi RS5 benefits from a great-looking and classily finished interior.
If you want four doors, it’s worth looking at the curvacious Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, which benefits from a 2.9-litre V6 engine developed with the help of Ferrari.
Alternatively, if you can stretch your budget upwards a little - and don’t need rear-seat space - lower-end trim levels of the Porsche 911 and Aston Martin Vantage are tantalisingly within reach.
BMW M4 Competition Coupe practicality: dimensions and boot space
Coupes are often quite compact, but the BMW M4 has its smaller, cheaper sibling the M2 to consider, so at 4,794mm it’s actually quite long - in order to comfortably accommodate adults in the rear seats - though this is more of an occasional four-seater rather than a particularly practical option.
It’s also a few centimetres longer than the regular 4 Series, largely due to its chunkier bumper designs. At 1,887mm wide, it’s also 35mm wider than a regular 4 Series, which helps it to look wider and more purposeful, and also makes it feel physically more responsive in corners. At 1,393mm tall, it’s quite a low-roofed car which, while not being great for rear headroom, certainly helps with the swoopy, dramatic styling.
|Length 4,794mm||Width 1,887mm|
|Height 1,393mm||Weight 1,800kg - 1,850kg|
There’s 440 litres of boot space in the BMW M4, which is comfortably enough for everyday shopping duties or a weekend away. It’s also a significant 60 litres or so more space than you would find in a conventional family hatchback such as the VW Golf.
Plus, while you don’t get the wide boot access of a hatchback tailgate, you can fold down the rear seatbacks, which is helpful if you need to carry longer items.
|Boot size 440 litres|
There are often surprises when it comes to the results of reliability surveys with premium-badged brands - which you might expect to do well in these sorts of consumer tests. Unfortunately for BMW that’s not always the case.
There’s no specific information on the M4, as this is both a relatively new model and a small-volume seller, but the 4 Series Coupe upon which it’s based came in at a quite unimpressive 56th out of 75 models covered in the 2021 Auto Express Driver Power survey.
That being said, the similar BMW 3 Series fared much better, coming in 31st in the same survey.
BMW offers a three-year unlimited-mileage warranty, which means it betters the standard warranties of Mercedes and Audi - both of which are capped at 60,000 miles. Porsche’s warranty is similar, with unlimited mileage over three years of cover from new.
For longer warranties manufacturers like Renault and Hyundai offer five years of cover, while MG and Kia give you seven years of protection - although none of them sells a car that’s really an equivalent to the BMW M4.
|3 years||Unlimited miles|
AVERAGE REPAIR COST PAID BY WARRANTYWISE: £721
The BMW M4 Competition looks rather expensive when compared with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio and the Audi RS5 Coupe, though it is a similar price to the Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe.
However, it’s predicted to lose its value more slowly than its rivals from Audi and Alfa. This means that, although used models may be more expensive to purchase outright, cash buyers will get a significant proportion of the original price back when they come to sell and PCP finance monthly payments on used M4s should be comparatively affordable compared with rivals.
Plus, to find an alternative that’s significantly faster and more fun to drive would mean looking at more exotic, costly and less practical machinery - and spending a lot more. As a result, if you want a rapid but practical two-door, the M4 is an appealing option.
Unless you really need the rear doors and extra boot space of the M3 Saloon or forthcoming M3 Touring estate car, the rakish style of the BMW M4 Competition and its exciting drive make it one of the best practical high-performance cars around.
It offers all the thrills of more compromised exotic models such as the Porsche 911 and the Aston Martin Vantage, but at a lower price and with more interior space for both people and luggage.
There are bigger, more lavish BMW performance coupe models available, such as the BMW M8 and the high-riding X6 M coupe-SUV, but these are both much larger, more expensive, and offer a less exciting driving experience than you get with the M4.
*Representative PCP finance - 2018 Ford Fiesta 1.0 ST-Line Hatchback:
|PCP representative example||APR rates available|
|Cash price £12,000||APR 7.90%||Value of loan||From|
|Fixed monthly payment £218.12||Annual mileage of 8,000pa||£25,000+||6.9%|
|Total cost of credit £2,755.55||Term 48 months||£12,000-£24,999||7.9%|
|Optional final payment £4,285.79||Loan value £12,000||£8,000-£11,999||8.9%|
|Total amount payable £14,755.55||Deposit £0||<8,000||9.9%|
BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.