Of course it was just my luck to be able to try the M4 cabriolet shortly after the first snowfall of the year and the arrival of sub-zero temperatures but in Canada you have to make do. I was lucky enough to have the last warm-ish day of November where it was above freezing which afforded me the chance to drive with the top down.
The legendary BMW M3 (the coupe/cabrio were rebranded M4 for this generation) has been a pillar in the sports car scene for decades. The ability to chop the roof off is a novelty and a must for some buyers but to be honest I’ve never been a convertible kind of guy. I don’t like the “hey look at me” type of attention I get when driving with the top down. It also reduces the structural rigidity of the vehicle and weights it down by an additional 200 kilograms or so. Nevertheless, you can get just about any exotic car with a drop-top so clearly there is a market for these types of vehicles.
The 2020 M4 will be the last of this generation. The newly-redesigned 2020 3 Series is already in showrooms but the M cars always follow about a year afterwards for some reason. That means that you get the old design if you chose to buy a 2020 M car like this one which is sure to cause some potential buyers to wait one extra year. I know I would want the latest design after shelling out close to, or over $100K.
This is still the tried, tested and true performance machine it’s been forever. There are always grumblings about how big it’s gotten or how the steering doesn’t provide the kind of road feel that the cars form the 90s used to but I don’t buy into that nonsense very much. Unless you are a hardcore track enthusiast, all of that is just white noise.
Powering the M4 is a twin-turbo 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine making 425 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. There is a competition package available that can bump the total HP output by an additional 19 horses. This vehicle had the ultimate package which actually contains the Competition power boost. With that extra 19 horses, the cabrio can do the 0-100 km/h sprint in about 4.3 seconds using launch control.
It’s blistering fast and that can get you into trouble very easily. Pouring gas on the fire is the excellent and must-have M Performance exhaust system that takes the growl from the engine up a few notches. The best part of the exhaust isn’t the sound it’s the fact that the driver controls just how much extra noise you want to make via a button. That doesn’t apply to only the exhaust, either. Many cars have driving mode selectors but rather than the usual one-size-fits-all driving modes, the M4’s throttle profile, suspension rigidity and steering stiffness can all be adjusted individually to various levels of awesome.
The steering in Sport Plus mode felt so stiff, it clearly only for the track. Same with the suspension which can stiffen up to the point where I felt every bump in the road. The exhaust, however, is the perfect gadget to play with around town, delivering a mean sound. At full throttle, the car will backfire and scare the pants off any pedestrian who happens to be nearby. Even while coming to a stop, the added fuel richness causes a rumpling as you downshift to a stop.
BMW’s iDrive has a very intuitive interface that is easy to use, in particular because of the rotary dial located on the lower center console. It’s always been the best way to operate a system because it lets the driver’s eyes stay close to the road while not having to reach or lean. Using an application such as Waze via CarPlay is surprisingly easy as turning the rotary dial flips the cursor around the screen intelligently.
I did have a lot of problems with the wireless Apple CarPlay. There were connectivity issues which hampered its usability. It would disconnect mid-song or mid-phone call leaving me to scramble to get speakerphone on my device. Attempting to reconnect CarPlay didn’t work as it couldn’t find the device afterwards. A fix is definitely needed.
The top takes about 20 seconds to open and is metal as opposed to cloth, giving it more insultation and a superior look. You can’t have much in the way of cargo in the trunk if you plan to use it though (a grocery bag or two at the very most). It’s great if you like that open-air feeling as many people do. You get the performance of the M4 with the cruising ability the drop-top provides.
The 2020 M4 Cabriolet starts at $89,000. The Ultimate Package has just about every option available but costs $26,000. The M double clutch transmission is another $3900 bringing the MSRP for the tester to $118,900.
The car remains an enticing package of performance and luxury. I can’t wait to see what the next generation has in store.