It’s been a few years since we got some electric feels from BMW’s i8 and, as bizarre as it sounds, I’ve now sat in more bona fide 'supercars' than I have in M-badged BMWs – this is just my second time experiencing what the motorsport range has to offer. The German marque began life back in 1916, initially producing airplanes and motorcycle and not venturing into the world of the automobile until 1928. That’ll be why BMW pays homage to their aviation room in their logo, which bears the state colours of Bavaria and portrays a rotating propeller.
The M range of BMW cars has become iconic. You could argue the birth of the BMW M cars was back in 1972 when the firm brought together all it’s various motor racing activities and branded them as BMW Motorsport GmbH. Over the following years this subsidiary had countless motorsport success and contributed to the sports range of BMW road vehicles. The first of which was the M535i in 1980. Fast-forward to 2018 and we have the M4 I was lucky enough to experience. This 431bhp, 3-litre car is exquisite. It’s not the fastest car you can buy (0-100kph in 4.4 seconds), it may not be the most refined, and it’s also far from the prettiest, in my humble opinion. Yet there’s something about it that was just a pleasure to drive.
The M range of BMW cars have become iconic. You could argue the birth of the BMW M cars was back in 1972 when the firm brought together all it’s various motor racing activities and branded them as BMW Motorsport GmbH. Over the following years this subsidiary had countless motorsport success and contributed to the sports range of BMW road vehicles. The first of which was the M535i in 1980. Fast-forward to 2018 and we have the M4 I was lucky enough to experience. This 431bhp, 3-litre car is exquisite. It’s not the fastest car you can buy (0-100kph in 4.4 seconds), it may not be the most refined, and it’s also far from the prettiest, in my humble opinion. Yet there’s something about it that was just a pleasure to drive.
The cockpit is one of the nicest I’ve experienced for a while. Being a tech lover the touchpad search function and Google Maps as your sat-nav system are great little touches. Though, even though being a left-hand drive car and me being left handed I needed to quickly learn how to write with my right hand. I realise I’ve spoke about this numerous times in previous reviews but once again I have to say I do love it when a new car has some retro elements that seamlessly blend with modern tech. This M4 does a fantastic job. The dials look like they’re from a classic 1980s model, coupled with some small digital displays and a very nice HUD on the windscreen in front of you. The retro and modern coupling is evident throughout out the cabin with the touchpad jog input for the great infotainment system sitting next to a good old-fashioned hand brake that you pull up and lower.
As mentioned this car comes with Google Maps as its sat nav but, to be clear, it’s still BMW’s own sat nav. It’s actually one of the best maps I’ve seen. The Google element lies in the fact with this car you get 4G connectivity, but not via your phone as the car has it’s own connection, thus allowing up-to-date info on traffic, all displayed via your sat nav. I could go on and on about other tech packed into this M4 (like apple car play over bluetooth), but I have a limited number of pages, so how was it to actually drive? Being a large and heavy vehicle (250kg more than the coupe version) I was skeptical about the performance, which was initially justified. The car felt heavy, struggling to get up and go - like trying to get up for work after you’ve had a great weekend. I soon realized... I hadn’t delved into the customisation of the M4. I quickly reconfigured the suspension, engine etc via the infotainment system and the M4 came to life. Bags of torque all over the rev band and a great noise from the quad exhaust will bring a smile to any driving enthusiast’s face.
It’s great around town at low speeds and effortlessly propels you to speeds that are way above any legal limit. Even with the car effectively put into race mode it was still very comfortable. I understand here in Dubai we are blessed with smooth roads, but even on the bumpier, rougher roads around construction sites areas the M4 wasn’t shattering your spine. Another plus was for once a sports car that has four seats actually has four seats that adults can use. There’s plenty of space in the back for mates, shopping, or the kitchen sink.
As with every car, nothing is perfect. As much as I loved this M4 is had a few faults. Being a convertible, the roof needs to go somewhere, which is in the boot. This doesn’t leave much room for anything else back there. Also I really feel like the styling could have had a bit more time spent on it. It’s all a bit too safe. It’s lacking the aggressive stylings I’d expect from an M range car. Again for me that roof causes a problem. That extra weight means the standard power is just enough to keep you happy. You could argue that opting for the competition back could solve this issue (if available at your dealer). However, based on other reviews I’ve seen and heard you can only really feel that extra power if you’re on a track pushing the engine to the limit.
Overall, if you’re looking for a very comfortable, fast, tech-filled, fun daily driver you can’t go far wrong with the M4. It’s worth an hour or two of your time to go and test drive. I don’t think it’ll leave you disappointed.
0-100 kph: 4.4 seconds
Max power: 431 bhp
Top speed: 250 kmh
Price: Reviewed/base model AED 480,000 (US $130,694)