In our latest ‘First Drive’ we took a BMW M4 for a trip through to the Alps.
A yellow colour named Austin Yellow hit my eyes when I walked up to the BMW M4. Luke was quick to point out that the car was also lowered, not the best idea when you load it up with camera gear and two adults. “We’ll manage” I heard in my right ear while we took off, the Akrapovic burbling behind us.
At slow speeds the ‘kebab mobile’, the nickname we gave the car, really excels. Rarely does a car offer such diverse characters, ranging from GT-like feeling up to a car that is frankly too much to handle. The first few hundred kilometers were slow, lots of traffic played their part in that. Only later during the trip would I get all the freedom to push the car hard.
Powered by a new engine, the M4 benefits from 431 horsepower and 550 Nm of torque. The engine does hold true to the BMW 3-liter tradition but with a new block and headers. That torque-rich engine then runs its power through a twin-clutch 7-speed down to the rear wheels. That torque is a huge change compared to the the NA V8 used in the previous M3. This M-model feels closer to its diesel siblings on offer by BMW, but that is in no way a bad thing. Okay, okay the sound is truly missing. Even with the aftermarket exhaust and artificial cabin sound.
More kilometers followed in which there was plenty of time to run through all the settings on offer. Like in earlier BMWs we drove, each mode was bang on. Sport for example felt properly different instead of being a gimmick. Changing the car from the GT it can be, into a tail-happy mobile. Those mountain roads ended up being the most comfortable with dampening on normal and the rest in sport. Mind you; steering, dampening, gas response and ESP can all be tuned individually via IDirive.
Performance options on a BMW M4 include the power increasing Competition Package and 9k ceramic brakes, our car sadly had none of this. Where power was plentiful, the brakes being steel was a big flaw in the Alps. Weighing around 1600 kilograms (despite the carbon prop shaft), the brakes quickly faded on the way down. That bad that half way down you’d give up going fast and just slowly tag along with the swarm of German campers.
Fast was a sensation I would finally feel during a morning drive on which I took the included photos. At 5.45 my alarmclock went off, I quickly frensend up and headed down to the garage. Those Akrapovic exhaust tips sound a lot louder that early I must say. Unhindered by any soul awake, with a warm engine and warm tyres I drove up the mountain pass nearby Sölden, Austria. Finally would I learn to know the kebab-mobile even better.
Switching the car into sport-mode after warming it up, I hit oversteer in the first corner up. It came in fast however, no slowly entering oversteer in an M4. It let itself be controlled very well after that but that was no surprise considering how well the car steers overall. The car communicates very well and barely shows any understeer, even on the limit. This excellent steering is complemented by strong brakes while entering a corner and the torque-rich engine while exiting one. It ate the distance in between corners for breakfast, its zero to a hundred time of just 4.1 seconds can testify to that.
Atop the mountain pass I realised how much I didn’t want to drive this car down again, it really would have been the perfect car with ceramics. Practical enough with its 445 liter trunk, fast and agile enough to be a very engaging drive but best of all was the diverse character the M4 offered. It really is a good all-rounder in its own way. I hated giving the keys back and that’s a good sign.