BMW M4 Competition

Now with bits that should have been standard

TOBY HAGON

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

YOU COULD drive for hundreds of kilometres in BMW’s new M4 Competition and not unlock the extra surge from the upgraded engine.

Blame it on the 550Nm of torque, all of which is available from 1850rpm and continues to 5500rpm, providing a delicious thrust that sees off pretty much all comers on all but a racetrack blast.

The torque peak is maintained a fraction longer in the Competition, the latest $5000 plus-pack that sits atop the unchanged M3 and M4 range that incorporate sedan, coupe and convertible body styles.

Even then it’s difficult to pick, and you need to keep your right foot flat to unleash the extra 14kW that stretches power to a 331kW peak at 6000rpm.

Beyond that, the in-line six is a wonder of valve timing, high revs and flexibility, revving cleanly to its 7600rpm redline, all the while boosting the aural satisfaction.

Indeed, the exhaust burble – some of it artificial through the speaker system – is more enticing in the Competition, although it’s still more a deep drone than a match for the V8s that rival BMW’s longest running M.

The iconic M is now fractionally faster, too, punching to 100km/h 0.1sec quicker, at four seconds flat. That’s with the occasionally finicky DCT dual-clutch transmisssion that jolts on full throttle upshifts in its most aggressive mode, one of many driver-selectable parameters that unnecessarily adds to the car’s go-fast complexity.

The latest Ms also benefit from dynamic changes. Springs are 15 percent stiffer, so the Comfort mode of the adjustable dampers is closer to the Sport setting in a regular M4.

It makes bumpy backroads a little more trying at modest speeds, while the occasional roar of the tyres takes the edge off high-speed cruising refinement. The upside is a whiff of extra damping control over high-speed bumps, something that adds reassurance to an accomplished performance car.

Aim it at an apex, though, and there’s newfound haste with which it tracks to the target. The broader Michelin Pilot Super Sports help, too. There’s an extra 10mm at either end, and they’re now 20 inches in diameter, aiding the already sharp steering reactions. None of this changes the M4’s character, but all of which does sharpen its senses.

Design changes are subtle, with the exception of the new 20-inch spoked wheels that are an acquired taste as opposed to the more deeply dished 19s of the standard car.

Existing M3/M4 owners won’t feel outclassed, but those buying new will be rewarded with fractional improvements. posed rs ut e al

PLUS & MINUS

Artificial six-pot sound can drone; tyre noise; ride on back roads Free-revving and flexible engine; even sharper driver-focused dynamics Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Kerb weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale BMW M4 Competition 2979cc 6cyl, dohc, 24v, twin-turbo 331kW @ 6000rpm 550Nm @ 1850-5500rpm 7-speed dual-clutch 1540kg 4.0sec (claimed) 8.8L/100km $154,615 Now

Stop in the name of shove

Carbon-ceramic brakes remain an option on the Competition models, but for those prepared to splash out the $15,000 for better stopping power, snazzy gold brake calipers are there to tell the world of your upgrade.

Auto emergency braking is still not part of the otherwise extensive BMW safety system because executives claim, “our view is the driver is still in full control”.

Active cruise control is also conspicuously absent.