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Driven: 2015 BMW M4

Looking, feeling, and acting like a true BMW M car; the new M4 is all killer and no filler.

[RxSpeed] 2015 BMW M4 Review

Many have feared the loss of BMW’s naturally aspirated motors in their M cars, and for good reason: It’s a fearful assumption that you’re going to lose some of the mystique of their legendary power and grace. BMW’s N/A power packs are always something to be grateful for as an enthusiast. Just check out their last-generation V8 in the M3 and the V10 in the M5/M6. They produce absolutely gorgeous tones. So when Bayerische Motoren Werke decided to change their long lineage of free-revving, forced-induction, free motors with new twin-turbo units in their 3- and 4-Series, the general motoring public had the proverbial freak-out.

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Beauty to Beast

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BMW still uses its VANOS system, which, although a 22-year-old technology, reacts quickly and effectively. It’s still a snarling, barking live wire that doesn’t need an over-zealous foot to achieve its greatest feat: balance. While most cars with over 400 pound-feet of torque and rear-wheel drive might be a handful given the amount of usable torque available at a low 1,850 rpm, the M4, with its Active M Differential, goes through a system of checks and balances, allowing the feeling of confidence. Using the car’s braking system, it’s able to control power and efficiency in milliseconds. Rather than being on a knife’s edge with sweat dripping off your brow, the M4 allows a progressive learning curve with the electronically controlled safety systems, offering limited interference with maximum potential. Of course, if you’re the daring type, you can switch everything off with copious amounts of white smoke at your disposal.

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M Till The End

Setting up the M4 in the beginning is a matter of finding the two “M” buttons on the steering wheel. Depending on your mood, you adjust parameters within a certain rule set, which allows you to snap the car to attention whenever you’d like. It’s a never-ending combination of suspension, engine power and shift speed (with the optional seven-speed M double-clutch transmission, or DCT) all tailored to your driving habits. We found that setting one for New York’s relentlessly bad roads and traffic required the following combination: engine power full, suspension at its softest, shift speed at its slowest. But once you’re outside the urban topography, engine power full, suspension in sport mode and shift speed at its lighting-quick setting will have you exploiting physical limits in short order.

 

There is one annoyance of BMW’s “M” button functionality present, however: The system reverts back to the factory settings every time you turn off the car, which is inherently frustrating. But luckily, it takes literally the push of a button to go back to the fun modes.

Interior Interior Interior Interior

Interior

Our test car was fitted with BMW’s $8,000 ceramic braking options, which give you six- piston calipers in front paired with 15-inch rotors and four-piston calipers, 14.5-inch rotors in the rear. While amazing, the system is overkill for anyone not named Andretti. Go with the stock steel units, because unless you’re willing to spend almost 10 grand extra, or you plan on racing at your local track quite frequently, they’re entirely unnecessary. However, the system is relentlessly progressive and offers gobs of stopping power whenever necessary, allowing you to brake later and harder. Plus, they look flat-out cool with the lime-gold metallic colorway that, whether you want it or not, happens to be your only choice.

 

From a design perspective, the new M4 is masculine overload, but not to the point of being all veiny and gross. It’s more classically sculpted like David, not overbearingly buff like a modern ’roid monster. Its exterior is reminiscent of an exoskeleton from a fighter jet. Panels, rockers, bulges and inlets of all shapes and sizes do something functional that you’d only fully understand with a degree in aerodynamic engineering. Even the rearview mirrors look like some sort of TIE Fighter.

 

The carbon-fiber work, specifically the roof—and the most beautiful strut bar an engine bay has ever had the pleasure of housing—is insanely hypnotizing to look at. The fact that it is made to exacting specifications by seriously skilled craftsmen is humbling.

 

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Bonus

Inside, the simple interior has everything that is necessary at your fingertips without adding the complications of housing 50 gazillion buttons. A nice, big, tactile rotary dial for the iDrive system is easy to rotate, and once you have the correct steps from start to finish, finding, changing and coercing the system to do what you need it to is easy and fast. And what’s refreshing? The fact that the instrument cluster isn’t an information super whore; everything you need is there, and it’s a nice setup of integrating analog with digital gauges without being all in your face like an OCD salesperson.

 

Seats are comfortable, offer a dynamic range of adjustments and allow perfect seating positions for a range of drivers from tall to small. You’ll feel big and powerful in this cockpit. It’s the fact that the BMW offers great sound deadening for a true luxury feel—though still pumping in artificial noises via their Active Sound Design, which BMW assures is an infinitesimal amount—but can still be activated into a beast of dynamic proportions.

 

The only thing it doesn’t do better than the outgoing E92 M3 is the exhaust soundtrack. While we still love this new, revolutionary motor, the extreme raciness of the outgoing model was something to look forward to upon startup. But as you know, there’s always an aftermarket exhaust waiting to be installed should you lust after more theater.

 

After a week in BMW’s new daily daredevil, we found it hard to unhinge our mitts from the steering wheel. Some cars are incredibly tough to return to sender, but this was like giving up the ability to have sex. What’s remarkable about it is, though not cheap, it’s not something you would have to sell your soul for. It’s an accessible supercar in every sense of the word. Bravo, BMW, bravo.

 

2015 BMW M4 Specifications

 

Efficiency:       17/24/19 mpg (city/highway/combined)
0-60 MPH:     3.9 seconds
Top Speed:     174 mph
Horsepower:   425 horsepower @5500-7300 rpm
Torque:           406 lb-ft @1850-5500 rpm
Cost:               $64,200 (base)/ $86,200 (as tested)
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