A rose by any other name would still smell sweet, and by that logic a much-loved factory tuner sports coupe with a revised badge is still one or the great driving machines of the age. BMW's M4 remains a top choice for those who prefer a bit of practicality and a more restrained shape with their blistering speed and race-ready handling—and are able to cover a rather high cost of entry.

Pricing and Equipment

The M4 is an evolution of BMW's 4 Series and is available as either a coupe or a folding-hardtop convertible. Running gear is suitably enhanced compared to its more mainstream sister, with the driveline and chassis receiving a long list of significant upgrades—from a massive power boost through to the requisite big tires—and the bodywork updated to include appropriate extensions and vents where Teutonic logic deemed them necessary.

A twin-turbocharged 3-liter inline-6—impress your business partners and call it by its in-house code, S55—makes 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque which is sent to a trick computer-controlled differential at the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual transmission or BMW's dual-clutch semiautomatic gearbox. An adaptive suspension system is available for $1,000 but the standard setup is so well-tuned that we call the extra expense and complexity unnecessary.

Base MSRP is $65,700 for the coupe and $74,200 for the droptop (maybe we should call it the foldtop?); add $995 for delivery in either case. The option list for each version is short, with packages drawing the lines between between greater speed and greater convenience and individual items mostly allowing for some visual personalization.

  • The Competition Package ($5,500 for the coupe, $500 less for the convertible) adds a power boost, 20-inch forged-alloy snowflake-design wheels and a battery of revised suspension and driveline settings to better terrify your passengers during track days and on back roads.
  • If your tastes run more towards highline than racing line, an Executive Package (head-up display, heated steering wheel, parking sensors) and Driver Assistance Plus (blind spot sensors, lane-departure and collision-avoidance assists, 360° cameras) are available.
  • A sunroof is a no-cost option on the coupe, but choosing to let light in means you lose some lightness—the roof panel reverts to standard 4-Series metal instead of carbon fiber.

Performance Pros

BMW M4 Front

The formula for the M4 is straightforward: Take an already well-balanced and very capable car like a 4 Series and turn everything up to near-race-car levels. The less straightforward part is maintaining that balance and daily usability, a technique which has proven very difficult for many to master—and which BMW does as well as or better than anyone in the business. The M4 is a masterful blend of phenomenal speed, wonderful controllability, and brilliant functionality.

  • The engine output numbers may seem merely good in an age of 707-horsepower Dodge sedans, but the twin-turbo motor's strong and very consistent torque delivery sets the car up for overachiever acceleration results.
  • BMW's commitment to making manual transmissions available remains one of its most endearing principles.
  • The optional carbon-ceramic brakes are painfully expensive at $8,150 but their seeming ability to bend Newtonian physics without a hint of fade must be experienced.

Performance Cons

  • Steering feel and response—long one of BMW's calling cards—is not what it used to be. Accuracy on long ultra-high-speed sweepers is still laser-precise, but tight mountain switchbacks reveal issues with the geometry and assist.
  • The Sport+ driver-mode setting makes for lightning-quick throttle response and DCT transmission shifts—and a neck-snapping twitchiness around town. Use when appropriate, but everyday driving favors a less intense setting.
  • As the boost comes up, the fuel flow increases to match—and it shows. EPA estimates are tolerable but you'll be hard-pressed to match them if you dip into the power with any regularity.

Interior Pros

BMW M4 Interior

BMW set the standard for serious and driver-centric interiors long ago, and the M4 is a clear example of why that mindset has come to dominate the luxury-car marketplace. Clean design, high-grade materials, and a logical control layout make it easy to remain comfortable and in control at speed.

  • The driving position and seats are typical BMW--that is, excellent.
  • The once-loathed iDrive infotainment system has been continuously improved and is now among the best to be found, enabling near-intuitive operation of a complex set of controls and features.
Interior Cons
  • The M4's focused attitude extends to an interior which is about as bright and cheery as the plans for a hostile takeover.
  • BMW's insistence on piping a synthetic engine soundtrack through the speakers is painfully contrived. That this soundtrack is so droning and unexciting on top of that is baffling.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

The M4 works very well as an everyday commuter, making its well-mannered way around town and through suburbia with civility and low-key style—unless your afternoon errands involve an autocross faceoff against the local Porsche club.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

The constant push for more—more power, more tire, more computer modulation—is starting to take its toll on BMW's traditional directness and seriousness. The steering in particular is a warning sign that some new strategies may be due.

The Bottom Line

The M4 picks up right where the two-door M3 left off, playing the comfortable-everyday-racing-car game with a deeply satisfying blend of extremely high performance and all-around usability. The price is typical-BMW high, but so is the rest of the experience.