I’ve always had greater affection for BMW than prestige counterparts Audi and Mercedes. I put that down to ‘discovering’ motorsport as a 12-year-old in 1981, the year BMW entered Australian touring car racing with the JPS BMW 635CSis. Those beautiful black and gold machines remained a feature of the local scene for seven seasons, capturing a couple of ATCC titles along the way.
They also captured my imagination due to their exotic appearance and engine note, Gricey’s tash, Frank Gardner’s one-liners and Jim Richards’ cheerful, no nonsense approach to winning races.
I have vivid memories of the black M3s circulating like clockwork at Bathurst in ‘87, the World Touring Car Championship round. The local works team was joined on track that weekend by a eet of M3s run by the Bavarian marque’s European works teams, spearheaded by Schnitzer Motorsport.
Those white imported cars carried BMW Motorsport’s famous two-blue and red diagonalstripes – the same paintscheme Schnitzer’s M6 GT3 wore 31 years later, upon the German team’s return to Mount Panorama for the 2018 Bathurst 12 Hour.
When I heard that the local Steve Richardsrun M6s would be backed up by a Schnitzerentered example own in from Germany, I immediately requested an appropriate white or black M car from BMW’s press eet to take to the Mountain that weekend.
I secretly hoped it would be black, so that a white terry-towelling hat wouldn’t look out of place on the backseat...
Bingo! Sure enough, a black BMW M4 Competition Package was awaiting me on pickup day to ferry my 12-year-old lad and I to Bathurst for the weekend.
My boy never really got his head around the signi cance of the white cap. But that’s okay, it meant something to me and that was all that really mattered.
He did think the M4 was a bit ‘spesh’, though, as did his old man.
The BMW M4, in range-topping Competition guise, is an out-and-out driver-focused European muscle car. It’s packed with a host of detailed re nements to make it more liveable away from racetracks and twisty mountain roads, like the famous Bells Line of Road that cross the Blue Mountains and connects northwest Sydney to the NSW Central West.
The agship M4 Competition Coupe is a $155,000 motor car, sitting above the regular M4 Coupe (approximately $5G cheaper) and the M4 Pure ($139,900). The Competition Pack brings an upgraded engine tune, stiffer suspension settings, unique 20-inch alloy wheels, gloss black exterior highlights and M Sport front seats.
While the Competition Pack has the same 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight six-cylinder engine as other M4 variants – and the M3 sedan – it has been tweaked to produce more peak power, 331kW compared to 317kW, while producing an identical torque output of 550Nm.
It’s a magni cent engine that is hugely exible in that it is supremely driveable in the city, yet can unleash ferocious performance when revved through to its 7000rpm limit.
Stiff suspension, wide tyres and razor-sharp steering ensures it sits at and has plenty of grip through the bends…
Given the sharpness of its handling, the quality of its ride is extraordinary. It still feels like a luxury car given the smoothness of its shifts from the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and cabin appointments.
Other journalists – with much more performance driving experience than I – point to the car being a handful to drive on the limit, but I never got near that point. To me, the M4 was everything I hoped for from a genuine European muscle car icon.