BMWs have always seemed a most masculine breed, and this writer’s never been a fan of the signature kidney grille.
So, when teaser images of the all-new 2022 BMW M4 landed showcasing the twin-set’s ginormous black update, they were met with wry amusement. Gone was the “buck-toothed bunny” and in its place was a “rodent on ‘roids”.
Not the most promising of starts for a high-end vehicle. But this cartoon-like quirkiness soon faded once a set of Euro-style plates was seen in place, somehow softening the radical transformation.
The facelift even grew in appeal once I got behind the wheel of the M4 Competition xDrive Convertible.
Unlike its M4 Coupe sibling, the M4 Convertible is available as a single high-spec variant.
The 2022 BMW M4 Competition xDrive Convertible is priced from $185,500 before on-road costs and options.
It carries a $11,000 premium over the equivalent M4 Competition xDrive Coupe, and is nearly $30,000 more than the entry-level M4 Coupe manual with rear-wheel drive ($155,500).
While a hefty premium over its hard-topped stablemates, the M4 Competition Convertible is nearly $15,000 more affordable than the AMG C63 S Cabriolet, which at $201,368 plus on-roads is significantly more expensive.
Its interior is made beautiful with Merino leather upholstery as well as carbon-fibre inserts throughout, including on the chunky M steering wheel.
The cockpit can be further customised with all sorts of colourful options like the $7500 M Carbon bucket seats as tested.
While predictably stiff, they were by far the most supportive and comfortable seat of this variety that I’ve experienced.
Most buyers, though, are likely to prefer the more-forgiving M Sport Merino leather seats for daily driving and grand touring. Various heating and ventilation seat options help make it a true all-season convertible.
The upgraded cabin and tech deliver a brilliant array of standard equipment. Version 7.0 of BMW’s iDrive infotainment software powers the 12.3-inch Live Cockpit Professional digital instrument cluster and 10.25-inch central infotainment screen.
The main touch display can also be navigated using voice, the central console’s iDrive knob or a hand gesture. The intuitive iDrive interface is quick to respond with its smartly organised and customisable home screen.
While on-board navigation is standard, you can BYO Apple CarPlay or Android Auto via both wireless and USB connections.
The biggest point of difference between the M4 Convertible and its fixed-roof equivalent is the retractable cloth roof which folds away in 18 seconds.
It’s thrilling to drive as a soft top, and wind noise is nicely mitigated thanks to the fabric roof’s multiple insulation layers and flush-mounted glass in the rear. The setup is 40 per cent lighter than its hardtop predecessors.
BMW M3 and M4 Competition models are powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline six codenamed S58, which in this tune pumps out 375kW (6250rpm) and 650Nm (2750-5500rpm).
In Competition xDrive guise, drive is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
BMW claims a 0-100 sprint of just 3.7 seconds, on its way to an electronically-limited top speed of 250km/h.
Combined fuel use is rated at 10.4L/100km on the combined cycle, with the M4’s 59-litre tank demanding premium 98 RON unleaded as a minimum, naturally.
It’s still a substantial car in terms of weight – it’s the heaviest M4 to date – but there’s nothing unwieldy about the way it handles. Its performance is mega and the traction tight, allowing for fun galore for those who are up for it.
Standard on the Competition spec is a beefy inline twin-turbo charged six-cylinder engine, the additional oomph from which more than masks the cabriolet’s additional weight compared to the comparable xDrive coupe.
The convertible is almost as quick, and hearing the growl of the sports exhaust with the roof down may serve as a reminder as to why many pundits are not ready for these to go electric. It’s engaging to drive, and the ride-feel is dynamic without sacrificing comfort.
Steering seems hard to improve on, right down to the feedback felt through the substantial M leather steering wheel, with its array of multifunction buttons.
A push of a button switches the standard Adaptive M Suspension from supple and surprisingly comfortable to super-stiff and sharp. I’d avoid the latter unless driving on a track or very smooth well-maintained roads.
Fans of all-wheel-drive cars will love the fact that’s what this car now offers, though those who only want just the rear wheels in play won’t have that option unless all traction controls are switched off.
As for fuel burn in the super-sporty convertible, it should return a combined 10.4L/100km. With my not overly aggressive mixed driving, I averaged just shy of 12L/100km.
M4 (Coupe only) highlights:
- 19-inch/20-inch M forged wheels with performance tyres
- M Carbon Fibre roof
- M Compound Brakes in Blue with M lettering
- M Drive Professional
- Active M Differential
- Tyre pressure indicator
- Tyre repair kit
- Adaptive M Suspension
- Alarm system
- Comfort Access system
- Automatic tailgate operation
- BMW Laserlight
- High beam assistant
- BMW Individual Lights Shadow Line
- Interior and exterior mirror package
- Through loading system
- Storage compartment package
- M Sport Seats
- Seat adjustment, electric with memory for driver’s seat
- Lumbar support for driver and front passenger
- Seat heating for driver and front passenger
- M Seat belts
- Interior trim finishers ‘Carbon Fibre’ with carbon inserts in steering wheel
- Galvanic embellishers for controls
- Ambient light
- Automatic air conditioning
- Driving Assistant
- Parking Assistant Plus
- BMW Head-Up Display
- Live Cockpit Professional
- ConnectedDrive services
- Connected Package Professional including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- DAB+ Digital Radio
- Harman/Kardon surround sound system
- Wireless smartphone charging
- Leather ‘Merino’ with extended contents
- Metallic paintwork
M4 Competition (Coupe and Convertible) adds:
- Comfort Access including BMW Digital Key
- Driving Assistant Professional
- 8-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic
- Carbon gearshift paddles on steering wheel
- Full leather ‘Merino’ upholstery
- M Carbon ceramic brakes for high-level racetrack performance ($16,500)
- M Carbon exterior package: Carbon-fibre front bumper, mirror caps, rear spoiler and diffuser ($9500)
- Lightweight M Carbon bucket seats: Reduce weight by 9.6kg and feature integrated head restraints that can be dismantled for track driving ($7500)
- M Carbon Package: M Carbon bucket seats, M Carbon exterior package and M Carbon ceramic brakes ($26,000)
- Track tyres: Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 or Pirelli P Zero Corsa ($2000)
The M3 and M4 are yet to be tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP, although the standard 3 Series Sedan wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating from 2019.
2.0-litre variants of the 3 Series scored 97 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupants, 87 per cent for vulnerable road users, and 77 per cent for safety assist.
Manual M3 and M4 variants come equipped with BMW Driving Assistant as standard, which includes requisite technologies like autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane departure warning.
Driving Assistant Professional comes as standard on auto-equipped M3 Competition and M4 Competition models, which adds Steering and Lane Control Assistant, Emergency Stop Assistant, and a Lane Keeping Assistant with active side collision detection (blind-spot assist).
BMW Australia offers a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty for all new vehicles.
Worth noting is the fact rivals from Audi Sport (S and RS models) as well as Mercedes-AMG have moved to longer five-year cover.
Like the wider BMW range, M3 and M4 models are controlled by Condition Based Servicing, which uses sensors and advanced algorithms to determine maintenance requirements. Alternatively, you can bundle the first five services into a BMW Service Inclusive package for an upfront fee.
Unlike most of the range, Service Inclusive pricing for BMW M models is “available separately”, presumably subject to enquiry.
The M4 Competition Convertible’s hyper-aggressive look with its dark trim and low bonnet is going to be a selling point for fans of the brand, and probably conquests from other marques.
I enjoyed its blend of hardcore soul and soft-top playfulness even though it’s extravagantly priced. I’d recommend buyers make use of the complimentary advanced driver training course included in the mix to get across the car’s many capabilities.
After all, if you’re spending this kind of money, it makes sense to know exactly how to make the best use of what you’re playing with.
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MORE: Everything BMW M4