As the spiritual successor to the M3 coupes of yore, the BMW M4 has the weight of history riding on its muscular shoulders. To make matters more difficult, modern buyers demand more of everything – more livability with their performance and more luxury with their sportiness. The 2018 BMW M4 does a remarkably good job of meeting expectations. We have a few minor complaints, but the M4 has thrilling performance, a balanced personality, and plenty of style.

Best Value

The M4 has plenty of available options, all the way up to exotic Merino leather and a moonroof. But this is one car where we’d let our traditionalist flag fly – a stock M4, manual transmission and all, would be our choice. If you need a little connectivity, Apple CarPlay is an easy $300.

The Competition Package is tempting, with enhanced steering and suspension plus larger wheels and an extra 19 horsepower. But the base setup has more performance than most drivers have bravery, and its personality is less twitchy. The convertible looks great but adds more than 500 pounds, and the huge optional carbon ceramic brakes work great but will devastate the wallet at servicing.

A regular coupe it is, then, though this is as exciting as “regular” gets. Ours looks like this:

  • Model: 2018 BMW M4 Coupe
  • Engine: 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline six-cylinder
  • Output: 425 hp / 406 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 17 City / 25 Hwy
  • Options: Metallic Paint ($550)
  • Base Price: $69,695 (including a $995 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $70,245

Performance

BMW M4

The M4 has everything going for it in the performance department. Acceleration is blistering, and going from zero to 60 mph takes just 3.9 seconds with the dual-clutch automatic transmission. Stopping is equally brisk, especially with the carbon-ceramic brakes. The rear-drive chassis is neutral and composed on both the track and the back lanes. Remarkably, all that performance doesn’t come at the cost of the ride, which is smooth and comfortable. The M4 can be a track-day monster, but it can also be a competent daily driver.

The convertible is plenty of fun, but the added weight is noticeable in the corners. It does have the bonus of authentic engine noise, rather than the speaker-boosted soundtrack of the coupe. Our only real complaint comes from the steering – it’s quick and responsive, but lacks the feel of older M-badge cars.

Style

The M4’s styling is as functional as it is aesthetic. The wider body lends a track-ready stance, while an aluminum hood and carbon fiber roof shave weight. The lines are clean and aggressive, a clear evolution from the already pretty 4-Series. The materials on the inside have been upgraded as well, with the option for fancy wood and carbon fiber trim accents. The 2018’s friendlier iDrive system is a welcome addition, and the sport seats are comfortable without being restrictive.

All the same, the interior is less special than we’d like, with cheap plastic decorating a few surfaces. The rear seats are compact and difficult to get in and out of (this is true of most coupes, to be fair). Cargo space is decent but not exceptional, especially in the convertible – with the top down, the trunk has just 7.8 cubic feet in the trunk.

The Best and Worst Things

The M4 has it where it counts: classic M-badge performance in a sophisticated package. Given the car’s roots, we wish it would restore some of the analog steering feel (which, thankfully, still graces the M2).

Right For? Wrong For?


BMW M4

The M4 still delivers on the essential promise of a performance sedan: everyday livability with track-ready performance. The M4 will work as a daily driver, a weekend treat, or a track-only monster, depending on the garage. Despite all the fiery performance, its greatest traits may be its versatility and fun factor.

In coupe form, the M4 can’t quite pull family duty – the cargo space and rear seats are just a little too tight. If the kids have left the nest, however, the M4 will shine.

The Bottom Line

Over the years, more brands have come hunting for a slice of the M-department’s pie. Few can match the engaging dynamics and performance of the real thing. The M4’s biggest rivals come from in-house, in the form of the lovable M2 and the exclusive M4 CS. For buyers in the market for a performance coupe, the 2018 BMW M4 should be on the short list.