ARRIVAL AND so the debate continues. E92 M3 V8 Coupe or F82 M4 mega-boosted six? It’s as divisive as INXS versus U2 was in my high school music class. Both great, but you gotta choose a side.
The earlier M car is as pure as naturally aspirated performance machines get, while the latter is the beefed-up poster child for brutally forced induction. And judging by my experience, you either heart the new M4 like a smitten teenager, or you don’t.
I’m in the former camp. I awarded the dual-clutch M4 nine out of 10 in a narrow victory over the similarly salivatory C63 AMG 507 coupe in our September ’14 issue. But I can totally understand both sides of the argument.
Flat-out on empty mountain roads, or howling its tits off around Phillip Island or Eastern Creek, the E92 M3 is sublime.
Insatiable bent-eight combined with brilliant balance and incredible rear-end purchase, yet also progressive in everything it does.
The M4, on the other hand, is strikingly different. Where I always felt a little short-changed by the V8’s lack of low-rev thrust, I love the M4’s chunky, cranky bottom end. And especially in a manual like this one – the same black M4 I had a lustful moment with in Brief Encounters last November – which is the Ponchard household steed for the next three months. Cue strumming of fingers together, Monty Burns style.
My favourite M4 party trick so far is the ground-shaking blare from its quad exhausts in third gear at just above 1500rpm.
Max torque of 550Nm doesn’t arrive until 1850rpm, so it’s below that point, just as the smaller single-scroll turbo primes itself into action, that the M4’s boosted six sends bass reverberating through the ’burbs. Second gear does it occasionally, but in taller third, the engine has to labour that little bit more, to tremendous dramatic effect.
As an encore, if you back off just as the exhaust blare is truly monstering the neighbourhood, the M4 whip-cracks out its rear pipes almost like a gun going off.
Probably best not try that one past the housing commission units down the road… Now that BMW’s focused but flawed, single-clutch SMG gearbox is dead and buried, replaced by the praiseworthy M-DCT seven-speed dual-clutch in later M3 V8s and the new M3/M4, it seems that M-car buyers have forgotten all about the manual.
Wanna know how many M4 buyers order a manual gearbox in this country? An utterly disgraceful three percent.
This deliciously double-black M4 (if it was triple black, it would also have a black interior, which thankfully it doesn’t) starts at $166,430, plus a moderate number of intelligent options.
Black-coloured 19-inch double-spoke M alloy wheels ($500), an electric rear sunblind ($800), adaptive LED headlights with high-beam assist ($2360), head-up display (which is standard on a Mazda 2 Genki but costs an extra $1700 here), full soft-to-touch Merino leather in glorious red ($2700), Driving Assistant, which includes approach control warning, lane-departure warning, pedestrian warning and a light city braking function ($900), the internet ($200), and Connected Drive Freedom ($1200 worth of real-time traffic info, remote services and stuff) garnish this head-turning muscle machine.
And the grand total? $176,790 worth of sinister love.
Besides a rather lumbering turning circle (12.2 metres) and mirrors that don’t auto-fold when you central lock (there’s a button on the driver’s door), the M4 and me have been having a serious bromance.
Except on the way home from my parents’ house in lower Newcastle recently, on a 40-degree day, when the tyre-pressure monitors screamed “achtung” and told me to pull over immediately. I jumped out, performed a highly technical tyre-kicking exercise, noted that none seemed to be deflated, then drove off.
At the twin servos on the M1 Motorway, I checked all four tyres and they were fine.
So I reset the tyre system and haven’t seen or heard a whimper since. Probably because I’m too busy triggering that exhaust blare whenever possible.
LIKE its E92 V8 predecessor (Pure Edition excepted), the M4 offers multiple engine, suspension and steering settings that can be bundled together into two main modes on the left wheel spoke. Labelled M Drive 1 and M Drive 2, you need to select one every time you start the car, but it quickly becomes second nature. In M Drive 1, my default setting, the M4 runs Comfort damping, Sport steering and Sport Plus engine setting, with M Dynamic Mode stability control for a bit of extra slip in the rear.
After seven years with a V8, an M Division six returns with two turbos and enough grunt to easily dislodge the rear tyres
Date acquired: January 2015 Price as tested: $176,790 This month: 898km @ 12.4L/100km Overall: 898km @ 12.4L/100km DP T O
HAVE yet to pair my frigging iPhone. The phone can recognise the car but when I hit ‘BMW 08017’ in the device list, it instantly says ‘Connection Unsuccessful’. Tech-head Kevin at Sydney’s Apple Store said I should reboot the phone and restore to factory settings, then progressively add the crap I had on it to test for bugs. He also told me I set a new record for the length of my Bluetooth-device list, so when I got home, I deleted every old phone connection. All 160 of them. And still no Bluetooth. Grrrr…