In the motoring world, no other type of car can convey a carefree lifestyle like a convertible can. Driving “topless” tells other motorists that you lead a very relaxed life and says that you have a fun-loving personality. Indeed, the stresses of the world are forgotten when the wind is in your hair and the sun is kissing your face.
BMW’s M division, however, believes that convertibles should have more “go” than “show”. To them, getting from point A to point B must be done in a manner that’s not only exciting, but also so rapid that other drivers won’t even have time to watch you go by. The current M6 Convertible, for instance, packs 560bhp and can rocket from rest to 100km/h in a scintillating 4.3 seconds. Mind you, this “Munich Missile” can accomplish this despite weighing over two tonnes.
Enthusiasts looking for a lighter and smaller, but no less thrilling, convertible can now consider the M division’s latest topless rocket. Based on the M4 Coupe, the M4 Convertible is endowed with the same aggressive-looking design elements, which include huge air intakes on the front bumper, that “power dome” in the middle of the bonnet and quadruple exhaust pipes at the rear.The M4 Convertible has a three-piece folding hard-top, which requires 20 seconds to open or close. In my opinion, this car looks coolest with the roof down, as the shut-lines that demarcate each section of the roof are rather unsightly.
Inside, both the M4 Convertible and its Coupe sibling have the same layouts, with the only differences being their front and rear seats. The front seats were fitted with what BMW calls “air collars” – air vents located below the headrests that can channel warm air to the back of front passengers’ necks.
These air collars (which are optional) were most welcome during our drive, which took place last month. With the mercury hovering at 12 deg C, the warm air from the “collars” was a great relief.Occupants in the back, on the other hand, won’t feel as cosy since the rear seats don’t come with this feature. The seatbacks are also fixed at a more upright angle compared to the ones in the Coupe, so long-distance rides could become tiring.
Fortunately, the M4 Convertible has the ability to shorten any road trip. Beneath its swollen bonnet is a 3-litre twin-turbo straight-6 that packs 431bhp and 550Nm – or 11bhp and 150Nm more than what its predecessor, the M3 Convertible with its naturally aspirated 4-litre V8, can produce.
Naturally, the M4 Convertible is even quicker than the defunct M3 Convertible, dispatching the century sprint in 4.4 seconds, or 0.7 of a second quicker than the old model. Significantly, the M4 Convertible is also only 0.3 of a second slower than its M4 Coupe sibling. For comparison’s sake, the previous M3 Convertible is half a second slower than the M3 Coupe of the same generation, which takes 4.6 seconds to go from rest to 100km/h.Our route from the city of Munich in Germany to the town of Seefeld in Austria was ideal for putting the M4 Convertible’s abilities to the test. The autobahn heading away from Munich includes several unrestricted stretches that allowed us to sample the car’s high-speed stability.
With few other vehicles in sight, I managed to push the car to 268km/h (the test-drive unit is not electronically governed). The aerodynamicists did a swell job, for the car felt absolutely planted. Who says you need a big rear wing to generate downforce?
Mind you, this was accomplished with three adults on board and a full tank of fuel. In my opinion, the car’s top speed might have been even higher had the M4 Convertible been lighter.Even when it is devoid of occupants, the M4 Convertible is pretty hefty – its kerb weight of 1865kg is 253kg heavier than the M4 Coupe. That’s the equivalent of having five svelte women on board.
BMW’s M engineers, however, have managed to negate this disadvantage. Twisty mountain roads do not faze the car, which still obediently tucks itself into tight corners and takes long sweeping bends in its stride. There’s a little more body roll here compared to the M4 Coupe due to the softer damping (even with the suspension set to Sport or Sport+), but the benefit is better ride comfort.
At any rate, none of this should concern an M4 Convertible driver. All you need to do is put on a pair of sunglasses, drop the top and listen to that glorious exhaust note as you leave your worries behind – with the wind in your hair and sun kissing your face.
TYPE Inline-6, 24-valves, turbocharged
BORE X STROKE 84mm x 89.6mm
COMPRESSION RATIO 10.2:1
MAX POWER 431bhp at 5500-7300rpm
MAX TORQUE 550Nm at 1850-5500rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 231.1bhp per tonne
GEARBOX 7-speed dual-clutch with manual select
DRIVEN WHEELS Rear
0-100KM/H 4.4 seconds
TOP SPEED 250km/h (governed)
CONSUMPTION 11.5km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 203g/km
FRONT Double wishbones, coil springs,
REAR Multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar
FRONT / REAR Ventilated discs
TYPE Michelin Pilot Super Sport
SIZE 255/40 R18 (front), 275/40 R18 (rear)
TRACTION CONTROL ABS with DSC
KERB WEIGHT 1865kg
TURNING CIRCLE 12.2m
PRICE INCL. COE To be announced
WARRANTY 3 years/100,000km
+ Matches the M4 Coupe’s straight-line performance, no scuttle shake,
looks cool when it’s topless
– Hard-top operation feels slower than stated, less comfy backseat than M4 Coupe, longer braking distances