The BMW M series (it stands for Motorsport – who knew!) is renowned for nimble handling and powerful, attention-grabbing engines. And this year heralds the arrival of the fifth generation of these iconic sports cars. Some of the cars in the M series are more successful than others, though. The range has swelled over recent years to include the M3 Sedan, the new M4 Convertible, the M4 Coupe, the M5 Sedan, the M6 Coupe, the M6 Gran Coupe, the M6 Convertible and the X6 M.
But not all the models – particularly those at the larger end of the scale – have founds their way into the hearts of sports car enthusiasts. And while the M3 has proved enduringly popular, even die-hard BMW fans could be forgiven for getting confused when the much-loved, two-door version of the M3 has now become the M4. Here’s a closer look at the other changes to the M series this year…
Engines of creation One of the biggest recent changes to the M series is the scrapping of the M3’s 4.0-litre V8 engine, which is being replaced with a more environmentally friendly twin-turbo 3.0-litre, straight-six engine. Sports car purists are unlikely to be fans – at first at least. But BMW argues that the new engine will provide even better performance, while still producing a “sporting engine sound, in keeping with the BMW M tradition” – which means it’ll still be loud and aggressive. Reduced fuel consumption will be another bonus.
Preaching to the converted The elegant new M4 Convertible, details of which were revealed just a few days ago, can do up to 32.5 miles to the gallon and has CO2 emissions of between 203g/km and 213g/km, depending which gearbox you choose. The engine change also marks a return to the six-cylinder, in-line engine type used on the popular second and third generation M3s.
Body talk With carbon fibre body panels and aluminium suspension components, the M4 is 83kg lighter than its M3 Coupe predecessor, which should help to make it both more agile and more economical. The new M4 Convertible, meanwhile, is about 60kg lighter than the outgoing M3 Convertible, despite being wider and offering more space inside. According to BMW: “Stand-out M design touches include a powerdome in the bonnet, a sculpted front apron with three air intakes, and a black double-slat kidney grille.” Black double-slat kidney grille? Tasty.
Inside track The new M4 offers the option of a six-speed manual, which is the standard option, or a seven-speed M Double Clutch transmission that adds £2,645 to the cost of the car. M series cars also come with a chrome trim steering wheel and electrically adjustable, heated leather seats with recessed headrests that bear, for the first time, an illuminated M logo. BMW calls it “flawless ergonomics in a sporting ambience”.
Dynamic performance M series drivers can choose from a wealth of optional equipment designed to improve comfort or give the cars an even sportier edge. Along with the more powerful, new engine, M3 and M4 drivers also benefit from a groundbreaking oil supply system based on BMW’s racetrack experience, a sophisticated new cooling system, a rear-wheel drive chassis and an M Dynamic Mode (a sub-function of BMW’s Dynamic Stability Control system). Inside, meanwhile, there is an upgraded Bluetooth entertainment system and electric power steering with three settings: comfort, sport and sport+.