The new BMW M4 Convertible sticks with the tried and test performance cabriolet formula
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The BMW M4 Convertible is one of few options at this price point in the performance cabriolet market, so the fact buyers have this choice when many German rivals have deserted this sector should be celebrated. It’s not the sharpest driver’s tool, and removing the roof doesn’t provide much more access to the noise. But it does give a different dimension to the driving experience. If you want an exclusive, larger convertible with lots of performance, this is your best bet.
Performance cabriolets are a dying breed. Book-ended by cars such as the Mazda MX-5 at the lower end and many carbon fibre-chassis roadsters beyond the £100,000 mark, the BMW M4 Competition Convertible doesn’t have much in the way of competition at this level of the market. That might be why BMW has chosen to continue with its open-top two-door sports car when rivals from Mercedes-AMG, and Audi’s RS department’s mid-size soft-top models are off sale for the time being.
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In fact, the closest rival for this BMW when it comes to performance is Porsche’s 911 GTS Cabriolet, but at £121,180, it’s significantly more expensive. So, is the M4 Competition Convertible good value? At £85,870, not exactly, but it does offer genuine sports car performance.
The 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo engine is carried across from the Coupé, with the same 503bhp and 650Nm of torque. It’s linked to an identical eight-speed automatic gearbox, but the M4 Competition Convertible is only available with BMW’s M xDrive all-wheel-drive set-up; there’s no rear-drive version.
While this car’s soft-top is 40 per cent lighter than its predecessor’s folding hard- top, the M4 Competition Convertible still weighs a significant 1,920kg thanks to the weight of the electric roof mechanism plus some extra bracing to counter lost rigidity. This makes the fact that this model will sprint from 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds even more impressive.
The weight actually helps traction in a straight line, and the M4 feels ballistic. With 650Nm of torque, in any of the bottom four gears the car shoots forward after just a brief pause as the turbos spool.
You can feel the mass, but there’s a colossal level of grip and the M xDrive system works to boost agility, distributing power with a bias towards the rear axle, sending drive to the front wheels when necessary. In the 4WD Sport setting it lets you dial up a sense of adjustability with the security that it’s working with you. Of course, as with the Coupé, turn the ESC off and you can send all of the power to the rear only, but that’s best saved for track use.
Yet the M4 Competition Convertible feels a little out of its depth on a track due to that weight and a little more flex in its bodyshell. This is also marginally apparent on the road over bumpy surfaces. It’s far from terrible, but you sense slightly more structural vibration through the firm two-piece carbon-fibre bucket seat than in the Coupé, and the M4’s firm ride exacerbates this feeling.
It’s firm to control the weight and the energy generated at the massive speeds the M4 can achieve, but it’s still far from unbearable in Comfort mode. Of course, there are myriad options available to customise the car’s set-up, with adjustable suspension, steering, throttle, ESC, brake pedal feel and other settings that can be configured and saved as presets by tapping one of two red paddles mounted to the steering wheel.
The roof opens at the touch of a button and folds electrically in 18 seconds at up to 31mph. Go for the full keyless entry option and it can be operated using the key fob.
With the roof open, you might expect to bask in the noise of the potent engine, but the turbocharged nature and much of the motor’s sound being augmented through the speakers means it’s not quite as rich in its sound signature as you might imagine.
It’s a full four-seater, although legroom in the rear is limited, as is headroom when the roof is up. The roof folds away into a void in the boot, so there is 385 litres of luggage space with the roof up and 300 litres with it down. But this latter figure is still 80 litres more than its predecessor, which had the bulkier folding hard-top. You get the same level of kit as on the regular M3 and M4, which means a great infotainment system loaded with features and performance- enhancing kit, plus a digital dash.
|Model:||BMW M4 Competition Convertible|
|Engine:||3.0-litre 6cyl turbo petrol|
|Transmission:||Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive|
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