The M4 has been a car which I have had mixed feelings about for quite some time now. One of the very first reasons why I had reservations about it was the name, M4. Traditionally called the M3 BMW had to rename it to be accommodative of the new separate names for its compact executive sedan and its coupe derivative which is now the 3 Series and 4 Series, respectively. So, instead of a new M3 we have a new M3/M4, with the M3 being the sedan and M4 being the coupe and convertible versions. What is the fuss then? Well the original M3 was a coupe andwhile there were M3 sedans with the e36 and e90 generations, when you think ‘’M3’’ you think one fast, sexy looking coupe. No, not anymore M3 is a sedan now albeit a sexy one. This is not a train smash and I sort of think the M4 name does have an exotic ring to it.
The name thing may be a problem for fundamentalists but for most people it’s not that big of a deal. What did raise my eyebrows was the M4’s power output of 317kw, the car which the M4 replaces, the e92 M3, produces 309kw. That’s a difference of only 8kw! Never, since the launch of the very first M3 has there been such a small power gain between a previous generation M3 and its successor. To put this into perspective the e46 M3 had a power output of 256kw and its e92 successor had 309kw that’s a gain of 53kw but with the M4 we only have 8kw more than its predecessor. But before you stand up and shout “wat se tooooot is dis nou’’ read on. What the M4 lacks in power it more than makes up for in torque. It boasts a very impressive 550nm. This amount is available at lower revs and for longer than the e92 M3’s 400nm. This allows the DCT M4 to sprint to 100km/h in a claimed 3.9 seconds which is faster than the e92 M3.
You may already be familiar with Empowered Drive, a group of South African entrepreneurs and car enthusiasts that drive M cars. M4’s in particular. We were drawn towards this particular club among a sea of car clubs because of their philanthrophic activities. One particular afternoon my partner calls me and tells me that Empowered Drive will be doing a hand over and that it would be great if we were in attendance. I enquire a bit more about the event and find out that they have built a kitchen and a dining area which will also be used as a school hall for a previously disadvantaged school (Alafang Secondary School) in Katlehong, Johannesburg.
We decide to go witness the handing over and also take the opportunity to have a go in the M4’s. When arriving at Alafang Secondary School we find the chairman of Empowered Drive, Themba Mnisi a very charismatic and humorous guy, he extends a warm welcome to us. It becomes clear that he is a true contradiction to the notion that BMW drivers are egomaniacs. We are introduced to a couple of people and more Empowered Drive members and it was pretty astounding to see how every single one of them was so calm and humble. In fact the only person that seemed to have a weird attitude was some presenter/camera lady person, she kept asking us weird antagonizing questions; may God bless her discontent soul, we should all put her in our prayers tonight.
Event formalities finally draw to a close and we go back to the parking lot and it’s a sea of M4’s. A total of 9 or 10 and this is not the whole crew. There were all sorts of different colours, there was even one which we had never seen before, Pirate Brown, we were told. My partner had arrived in a Mercedes Benz A-Class and I arrived with my girlfriend [as a BMW e92 M3 driver she was keen on learning more about the M4] in a BMW 1 Series Coupe and it was very clear that our cars were looking out of place in the ocean of M4’s. He was worse though, his A-Class was the only non-BMW car there.
Back to the M4, when it comes to aesthetics there is no denying that the M4 is simply a work of art. BMW was simply showing off here. I have for some time now believed that it is the best looking BMW currently in production. But, with the introduction of the BMW M2 I’m, now, somewhat unsure. From a street car culture point of view and having in mind that this review is from that angle it is worth noting that the aesthetics (looks) of a car are a very important
. This is how the everyday guy on the street asses a car. This is how your mother’s colleagues grade your success. This is what makes your ex send you “Please call I Miss you”. This is also the area which the M4 excels. The placement of the quad exhaust tips is probably the best in the game. The air vents and bends and twists on the bumpers make it look menacing. Placed side by side with its predecessor the e92 M3 it looks wider and lower. Someone once commented that the M4 looks so good it’s like there is another generation between it and its predecessor. Quite frankly speaking the sedan Mercedes-AMG C63 looks plain and boring compared to the M3. However, I’ll have to admit that the Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe is quite a looker. It has a very similar design as the Mercedes AMG GT, which is a stunning car. The C-pillar on the BMW is probably the only let down in its exterior while the slope on the C63 Coupe’s C-pillar is near perfect.
The cars are fired up. The famous BMW inline 6 cylinder engine comes alive. It has a very nice growling tone, and you can tell right away that the car is potent. One of the members had actually arrived in an M6 and the moment he fired it up is when I remembered the e92 M3. Just like the M6 the e92 M3 uses a V8 engine instead of the smaller inline 6 cylinder found in the M4. While the M4 engine sounds good it’s not quite like the roar of the previous V8 M3.
We all get into the different M4s there and I’m immediately pleased at the interior upgrade from the previous generation. Every time you enter into the e92 M3 you can be forgiven for thinking you just entered into a Toyota Cressida, this is especially the case if you have one without the iDrive system. The interior is fresh and modern. It’s a good space to be in. I do however think the Mercedes C63 has an edge over the M4 when it comes to the interior.
I did notice that the M4, in comparison to its predecessor, doesn’t rev that high though. While I’m still expecting to hear the engines note sing at higher revolutions it changes gears. That’s when I learned that the M4 can only handle up to 7600 revolutions per minute and is limited to this, while the e92 M3 happily revs up to 8400 RPM!
We continue driving around in Katlehong. I decide to hop in a car with a guy nick-named Tony Montana and I sit on the passenger side of his Austin Yellow M4. Katlehong is his Hood so I’m interested in knowing more about it and the Empowered Drive movement. Tony Montana looks like he is something straight out of a Hollywood movie. The way he was dressed the way he looks and his demeanour literally make him look like he just jumped out of a private jet or luxury yacht. I jump in adjust the seat and I quickly learn that he, too, is humble and a very nice guy. While driving around he is greeted by a host of people and he constantly waves back even at the little kids which many may think are insignificant. The biggest way you can give back to someone is to inspire them to believe that it’s possible and give them that drive that makes them push. Many were mesmerised and short for words (and even breath) when the M4 convoy drove past them and many were inspired and thought if this guy from my hood can do it so, too, can I.
Let’s quickly address the turbo issue. Hard-core BMW enthusiast and fundamentalists have criticised the use of a turbo on the M4 and many believe an M3/M4 should use what they call a “traditional” inline 6 cylinder naturally aspirated engine. This argument has no basis. The original e30 M3 was an inline 4 cylinder and BMW has changed its engine set up on the M3 with every shape they have produced except for the e46 where they used the same inline 6 cylinder like the predecessor (e36). So there can be no “traditional” setup.
And for those people that would like to know which is faster between the C63 and the M3/M4. Car magazine tested the C63s and M3 and when it came to straight line sprint the C63s was less than a second faster. So in ordinary robot to robot conditions there won’t really be a faster one of the two and will merely depend on who got the better launch. However, when they took the cars around bends in a race the M3 was significantly faster. And, remember that this test was done with a normal M3 against the C63s and not just a C63 but the M3 still killed it.
The M4 also has climate control and all the other things you can expect from a car that costs R1.2m, before extras are added. I’m seriously not going to go into how much boot space it has and those sort of stuff.
The BMW M4 comes from a line of cars with a very strong heritage and has very big shoes to fill. Added to its pressure are all the emission taxes that are imposed to cars with big engines and more cylinders. It, however, handles this pressure very beautifully it is a well put together car with bags of character. It is a much improved machine over the e92 M3. C63 Coupe or M4? It’s a very subjective decision and depends on personal preference but, at this point, the M4 would be my choice over the C63 Coupe.