More M4 than the orig­i­nal ma­chine

IN­TER­NA­TIONAL LAUNCH/ BMW just built the M4 it should have built in the first place, writes Michael Taylor

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

Has BMW, at long last, fig­ured out how to make the best out of the M4? By strip­ping out weight, putting in grip and step­ping up the power and torque, it has turned the M4 into a use­ful car that’s nim­ble, re­as­sur­ing,ly fast and fun.

Sadly, it’s a lim­ited-run car, and will only be built un­til 2019, though de­mand might force M divi­sion to re­con­sider that.

The M4 forced us to ask un­com­fort­able ques­tions about M. The most un­com­fort­able of them was whether BMW’s M divi­sion still knew how to make light, lithe, nim­ble sporty cars.

M threw out the M4 GTS, pre­sum­ably just to show us that its chas­sis was ca­pa­ble of gig­gles and hoots, but it was mi­cro­scop­i­cally lim­ited in scope.

But now there’s this, the M4 CS. And it’s re­ally very good, ad­dress­ing most of the M4’s headaches as M tries its best to make a GT car a sports car.

While the en­gine isn’t at the core of the is­sues that rob the M4 of its E30 M3 lin­eage, M has still given the M4 CS more of it. The 3.0l in-line six es­chews twin-scroll tur­bocharg­ers for a pair of vari­able-ge­om­e­try units and they’ve now been amped up to punch out 338kW of power and 600Nm of torque.

Those num­bers add 7kW and 50Nm to the M4 Com­pe­ti­tion Pack­age’s out­put fig­ures and M claims the rear-wheel drive coupe punches to 100km/h in 3.9 sec­onds, on its way to a 280km/h top speed.

The M4 CS has been soft­ened off to the point where it’s not a pure track car, but a road car that’s happy on the track.

It’s the work on the sus­pen­sion tun­ing, the ge­om­e­try and the stiff­ness of the rear that have made a dif­fer­ence. Where the M4 man­ages cor­ners nicely, the M4 CS hunts them down and at­tacks them, with glee.

Firmer than the M4 Com­pe­ti­tion Pack­age and softer than the GTS, the CS de­liv­ers the same Com­fort, Sport and Sport+ steps as the stan­dard car, but its feet land on dif­fer­ent rungs when you push the but­ton. The dif­fer­ences are no­tice­able as soon as the car starts rolling, but un­avoid­able when it starts yaw­ing to­wards an apex.

The steer­ing wheel is still too fat, set­tling blob­bily in your hands and fail­ing to in­vite in­ti­macy in the way an Audi RS wheel does, but the im­prove­ments in the elec­tric power steer­ing’s setup put that to rest. There are more feed­back and more di­rect­ness in the steer­ing now, and the calmer back end means you get more ac­cu­racy at the front end with a re­duc­tion in ner­vous­ness on di­rec­tion changes at the back. Talk about goal con­flicts.

It in­vites con­fi­dence and joy, where the M4 in­vites re­spect and progress. The (op­tional) car­bon ce­ramic brakes are un­stop­pable, ca­pa­ble of ab­sorb­ing fe­ro­cious pun­ish­ment while re­tain­ing a high, strong, sta­ble pedal po­si­tion.

There is no more wait­ing for the odd mo­ment af­ter turn-in with the stan­dard M4, the one where you’re wait­ing for the body to move across on the rear springs. That doesn’t hap­pen, be­cause the body con­trol is as­ton­ish­ingly good.

You still feel as though you sit too high, above the roll cen­tre of the car in the heav­ily bol­stered, strongly sup­port­ive driver’s seat, but that no longer feels dis­con­cert­ing in any way.

There’s a flat­ness to the car’s cor­ner­ing stance that in­vokes re­as­sur­ance, yet it still man­ages to ab­sorb ev­ery bump and to punch out of any shape of bend with­out be­ing tossed around.

The ex­tra grip of the CS is matched by ex­tra free­doms and ac­cu­racy from the skid-con­trol sys­tem. You can hardly pick when the com­puter is intervening in its Sport and Sport+ modes and you don’t seem to lose any speed any­way, so you don’t bother ever turn­ing it off.

All of these up­grades leave the M4 CS as a car that in­vites you to be ag­gres­sive with it, in the vain hope that you’ll make it lose its man­ners or find the point at which it stops be­ing fast and fun. And you don’t find any of it, just dol­lops of gig­gle fac­tor.

It’s the back end that keeps climb­ing in es­ti­ma­tion, with an abil­ity to ride well, tie down any float and to ex­plode out of bends all at the same time.

It’s a far bet­ter ma­chine on wind­ing slow cor­ners, too, ro­tat­ing around its axis ei­ther un­der brakes, un­der a bit of throt­tle or even just lean­ing on the front tyres.

It’s still more than 1,500kg, but it feels 200kg lighter, with­out los­ing the pre­ci­sion it al­ways had at high speed.

The en­gine is strong, but it’s not the high­light, even if it now crack­les on ev­ery Sport and Sport+ mode liftoff like you’re run­ning over bub­ble wrap.

There never seems to be an end to the en­gine’s midrange strength, which is its glory and its curse at the same time.

It reaches its torque peak at 4,000rpm and keeps grind­ing out 600Nm un­til 5,380rpm and then it hits the power peak at 6,250rpm, but keeps revving to 7,600rpm be­fore you need to pull the right-side steer­ing­wheel pad­dle back to go into an­other gear.

Push­ing the in-line six out to the rev lim­iter is a nice thing to do be­cause its smooth, sweet and sounds deep down low and more metal­lic up high, but it doesn’t rise to a crescendo in the way the clas­sic in-line sixes do.

It’s might­ily fast, and the torque means it can be might­ily fast all the time. It’s just not au­rally thrilling in the way it does it, apart from the off-throt­tle the­atrics, though it’s never bad or bor­ing. There are so few un­wanted vi­bra­tions that it’s al­most wor­thy of a place in a limo, and the depth of the en­gine note is more Johnny Cash than the last CSL’s torn cor­ru­gated iron sheets.

The seven-speed dual-clutch has a flaw, though, and that’s in the mid­dle mode of its three steps. The first is for com­fort, gen­tly slip­ping through changes, while the up­per level is short and sharp, snap­ping out blis­ter­ing shifts with barely a crack.

But the mid­dle mode is al­to­gether less con­vinc­ing, with light-throt­tle shifts de­liv­er­ing un­wel­come head-toss back­wards and for­wards.

YOU CAN HARDLY PICK WHEN THE COM­PUTER IS INTERVENING IN ITS SPORT AND SPORT+ MODES AND YOU DON’T LOSE SPEED

The trick part of the en­tire pack­age is that, while BMW in­sists it’s a firmer, more ag­gres­sive car than the M4 or the M4 Com­pe­ti­tion Pack­age, the real­ity is that the ride is just fine, thanks very much.

It doesn’t seem to lose any­thing sig­nif­i­cant in bump ab­sorp­tion for com­fort (not to men­tion for power-down or turn-in), even with the damp­ing rate in the mid­dle set­ting.

The cabin is dot­ted with Merino leather and Al­can­tara (the seats, the steer­ing wheel), while it re­tains niceties like cli­mate-con­trolled air­con­di­tion­ing, the brand’s top-level HiFi Pro­fes­sional sound sys­tem and its Pro­fes­sional sat­nav unit.

M also hooks this all to­gether with BMW’s Lap­ti­mer ap­pli­ca­tion, if tracks are your thing.

The M4 CS is ev­ery bit the road car that is track ready, much like the E30 M3. Left: The rear has more dis­creet car­bon fi­bre spoiler than that on the M4 GTS. The in­te­rior, be­low, has a fat steer­ing wheel.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.