“This is the new BMW M4”. That sentence is one of the easiest ways to break TopGear.com’s servers. If possibly eclipsed by “This is the new BMW M3”. So expect our internet shortly to go into a state of broken squared.
A quick jolt of stats for you. Three-litre turbo engine, in-line six cylinders, with a pair of turbos, one for each three-cylinder half of the engine. Five hundred and three horsepowers in the Competition versions you see here. Eight-speed autobox. Zero to 62mph in less than four seconds.
That’s the acceleration for the rear-drive type. In a few months there will be an optional four-wheel-drive system. A M four-wheel-drive system, no less, which means it lets you prod a button to aim extra torque rearward. Or, at a second prod, all of it. Just in case you’re feeling nuttier than a Topic bar.
Even beneath the unique-to-M paint colours, the design is way out there. Hagen Franke, who sets the cars’ spec and characteristics, says that’s what customers asked for: a greater distance in this generation between the M340i/M440i and the M3/M4. Job done, we’d say.
I put it to Franke that the existence of the M2 must have allowed him to nudge the M3 and M4 further up the tree, with a whole thump of extra power and the 4WD option taking it closer to the big-daddy M5. But no, he says, M3 and M4 buyers are super-loyal and know what they want. They want, broadly, this.
Except some of them want an estate, so they’ll get that in this generation. Is that to stop people migrating to the X3M or Macan? Nope, Franke denies that too. The M3 and M4 just seem to exist in their own bubble. “The Touring is a nice addition.” Same with 4WD. “Knowing our customers pretty well, there are some of them in the snow belt who want all-wheel-drive.”
When the 4 Series showed its – shall we say? – polarising nasal styling, the 3 Series was spared. So at least BMW was offering you a choice. But not this time. For the M-cars, they both get exactly the same gaping nasal passages. Sniff.
In the lands we call abroad, there are actually two engines available. The standard cars get 480bhp and a manual gearbox. But that’s a box that would break under the strain of the Competition versions. So they get an eight-speed auto with their 510bhp and 479lb ft. The M3 Competition and M4 Competition are the only ones available in Britain, so there’s no way we can get the manual.
As with any M car, we can geek out over a whole lot of other modification. It starts with the body, carbon-roofed as before. Its arches balloon over a widened track – the M3 is a whole 75mm wider than a regular 3er.
By: Paul Hornell, 9/22/20
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