The last BMW M4 Convertible was a bit of an also-ran for the storied M brand. Is the new G83-generation M4 Convertible a better performer?
- Very well composed without overt scuttle shake
- Beautifully appointed cabin
- Cracking performance despite heavy weight
- Three-year warranty
- Up-spec seats are too much
- Noticeable understeer with the all-wheel drivetrain
It’s fair to say that the BMW M car is pretty far removed from what was envisioned when the sub-brand first came to fruition. Whereas the original E30 M3 was designed as a homologation special for BMW to enter DTM and Group A racing, its current fleet of M-fettled cars touches almost all reaches of the model line-up – SUVs included.
It’s this proliferation that’s allowed drop-top versions such as the 2022 BMW M4 Competition Convertible to become commonplace. While it looks very racy in this specification with carbon-backed bucket seats and lashings of carbon fibre, the lightweight motorsports link is diminished. I mean, the convertible M4 weighs an astonishing 1920kg wet.
Does it still deliver on the intrinsic value of owning a BMW M car, or is it more of a high-powered drop-top boulevard cruiser? Let’s delve a little deeper.
Totalling $197,900 before on-road costs, it’s a pricey way to get yourself into a convertible sports car. That said, the car you see before you is optioned with some tasty (and expensive) kit that balloons out its $176,900 base price. First of all: it’s painted in Frozen Portimao Blue that costs $5000. It also specifies the aggressive M carbon bucket seats for $7500, and equips a smattering of carbon-fibre exterior highlights for $8500.
|Key details||2022 BMW M4 Competition Convertible M xDrive|
|Price (MSRP)||$176,900 plus on-road costs|
|Colour of test car||Frozen Portimao Blue ($5000)|
|Options||M carbon exterior highlights – $8500
M carbon bucket seats – $7500
Matte paint – $5000
|Price as tested||$197,900 plus on-road costs|
|Rivals||Mercedes-AMG C63 | Jaguar F-Type | Porsche 718 Boxster|
Considering its $200K-touching price tag, it’s a good thing the M4 Competition Convertible is the flagship product featuring the maximum amount of kit available on the model. This means an all-wheel-drive system with which to put down the whole 375kW/650Nm outputs to the ground. The base-level M3 and M4 get lesser outputs from the 3.0-litre twin-turbo six-cylinder – not so on the M4 Comp.
It’ll sprint from zero to 100km/h in 3.7 seconds and run on to a 280km/h top speed. That’s speedy no matter which way you cut it, but whether the M4 Convertible can offer the whole package – or not – is arguably more important.
In the way of amenities, the M4 stocks staggered 19-/20-inch forged alloy wheels, laser headlights, full Merino leather upholstery, adaptive cruise control, Harman Kardon stereo, and a power boot release.
Interestingly, BMW has gone back to a soft-top for this generation of M4 Convertible. To my eye it looks far better, though something you can’t argue is the reduction in weight over its hardtop predecessor. It also raises and lowers quickly and conveniently at speeds of up to 50km/h.
The M4 Convertible would ordinarily have the air collar neck-warming system, but the up-spec seats sadly negate this valuable feature.
In any case, it’s a genuinely fantastic interior to spend time in. The sumptuous Merino leather feels great to the touch and very luxuriously covers just about all interior surfaces, while the remainder of the interior is finished with lashings of carbon fibre and high-end plastic finishes.
I’m not so endorsing of the $7500 bucket seats that feel a little too hardcore for daily use. I’ve tried the normal seats in the M3 sedan and thought they didn’t provide enough support. In stark contrast, these are near on racing buckets that are difficult to climb in and out of. The side bolstering also cuts into your thigh. Geriatrics need not apply.
Luckily, the rest of the cabin is a comfy place to spend time. There’s ample space to get comfy in the front row and enough adjustability to find a nice, low driving position. I’m a particular fan of the thick-rim steering wheel, though I understand it’s not to everyone’s tastes.
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|2022 BMW M4 Competition Convertible M xDrive|
|Boot volume||300L roof down, 385L roof up|
The 10.25-inch infotainment screen and the software within is one of my favourite pairings in the industry, with crisp maps and easily navigated menu systems. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available too. There are myriad M-related features to play with, like a drift analyser and sport gauge displays, but I’m content with the information provided between the 12.3-inch digital cluster and head-up display.
Things aren’t nearly as comfortable for second-row passengers. There’s a small amount of space for short journeys, though you wouldn’t want to spend much longer than an hour behind the front seats.
Boot space is limited, which stands to reason. The cavity must occasionally store a roof so its capacity is only 385 maximum, or with the boot partition in place, allowing the roof to be retracted, cargo space maxes out at 300L. The space goes hard up against the back seats so it can slot items through, though it’s a narrow space so it mightn’t be able to fit a suitcase for example.
Going a bit further afield to really test the M4 Convertible’s mettle, photographer Ted and I set sail for Phillip Island. In earnest, it probably wasn’t the most suitable day to be sampling a convertible. But the unspoken rules of running a drop-top insist that drive time be spent with the #RoofDownUnlessRaining – a movement coined by our very own James Ward.
In our case, sometimes you go roof down even when it is raining. Cruising on the freeway, we got caught out with a sudden shower on the way to the Island. No bother, the M4 did a surprisingly decent job at shielding both Ted and I from the wet, while we tried to find an off-ramp so we could close the top.
One advantage of having the roof down is being able to hear the rumbly exhaust noise at full bore. It’s a gruff note that is best heard when the car’s in its sportiest engine setting, when a lift-off of the throttle results in a cacophony of crackles.
I find it slightly annoying the car’s dynamics settings are hidden away in the infotainment – whereas its predecessor had individual buttons for engine, suspension, and steering – but switching between two pre-determined drive modes is simple enough with two red M1 and M2 buttons on the steering wheel.
In any case, acceleration is rapid no matter which driving mode you’re in. The 375kW/650Nm outputs are put down very effectively without a hint of wheel chirp. As well, the new eight-speed torque converter auto does the best job at being responsive and smooth – much easier to manage than the dual-clutch transmission of its predecessor.
It rounds corners with a nice and direct steering quality, though there’s a fair amount more understeer than its rear-wheel-drive stablemate in the ‘base’ M3. It does feel like a heavy 1920kg car. On the plus side, there is less scuttle shake as you roll over mid-corner bumps than the old M4 Convertible. It doesn’t get nearly as unsettled and maintains its flat composure.
For a sports car, the ride quality is great. The multi-mode suspension eats up bumps and mounds nicely in its softest setting, but firms up for a tight feel when in its harder modes. Even when it comes to slowing down, the standard steel calipers bite down hard on an initial prod of the brakes and pull up the car in quick fashion. There’s a reassuring confidence to the way they react considering they are just the standard brakes – carbon-ceramic brakes can be optioned for $16,500, though I’m not sure they’re needed.
|Fuel Useage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||10.4L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||15.0L/100km|
|Fuel type||98 octane premium unleaded|
|Fuel tank size||59L|
In terms of ownership, unfortunately BMW is one of the last manufacturers to still only offer three years’ worth of warranty (unlimited kilometres). This is at odds with its competitors Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Jaguar that offer five years.
BMW insists the M3’s 59L fuel tank be filled only with 98 octane petrol and suggests it consumes 10.4L/100km on a combined fuel cycle. Our real-world test indicated a 15.0L/100km rating on a combined cycle – a fair way from BMW’s claim.
|Key details||2022 BMW M4 Competition Convertible M xDrive|
|Engine||3.0-litre twin-turbo six-cylinder petrol|
|Power||375kW @ 6250rpm|
|Torque||650Nm @ 2750–5500rpm|
|Drive type||All-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Eight-speed torque convertor automatic|
|Power to weight ratio||195.3kW/t|
But in all honesty, even despite record fuel price highs we’re currently experiencing, I can’t see any M4 owner giving the car’s fuel consumption a hard time. The M4 is all about the thrill of the open-top drive while petrol power lasts.
As for the question posed at the top of the story, the M4 Competition Convertible does deliver on its racetrack-based origins. It might not be as focused as its hard-topped Coupe counterpart, but what you get in return is a comfortable cruiser that is beautifully experienced with the top down.