Jalopnik superstar Mike Spinelli drove the 2015 BMW M3 and M4 in their natural habitat. I am not a Jalopnik superstar, but I did get a chance to take an M4 Launch Edition out for a spin. I did not actually "spin" it, however, I did learn some valuable consumer information.
(Full disclosure: BMW didn't really care whether or not I drove the new M4 Launch Edition, because as I've mentioned I AM NOT a famous auto writer. However, fellow Jalop "Pete" who works at BMW of Atlantic City called me up and said "We have an M4, do you want to drive it?" I said "yes.")
Oh and here is another disclosure...because a.) the car was not mine and needed to be sold to a customer b.) we were on public roads with moderate traffic and c.) I only drove it for about 20 minutes.
On a scale of 1-10 (1 being old lady with bad vision and 10 being Afroduck) I drove the car at about a 4. Pete got behind the wheel and took it up to maybe 7. Despite my lack of hoonage, I discovered some unexpected things that you should know.
It feels bigger than you expect.
Now I understand why the 3-series coupe is now a 4-series.
Having driven a few E46s and E90/92 BMWs, those cars felt wrapped around you in a nice German cocoon. In comparison the 4-series feels like you are piloting some kind of spaceship. It is not a large car, but I was constantly checking my distances in relation to objects and traffic.
On the highway the size doesn't bother me, but navigating this beast on local roads made me a little nervous. That being said, it is quite a comfortable cruiser in addition to a track day monster.
You probably don't need the carbon brakes.
Speaking of track-days, unless you plan on flogging the M3/M4 every weekend on your local circuit, the carbon brakes are most likely expensive overkill. There were several times I had to the stomp the brakes due to inattentive South Jersey drivers, and every time the standard setup brought the car to a rapid halt.
It should also be noted that BMW's four-year maintenance plan covers replacement rotors and pads, but it will not cover the carbon option. So at $8,000 for the upgrade and about $2,000 per corner for replacement rotors that's something to be considered.
I don't give a crap about "artificial" engine sound.
So what if the exhaust note is "piped" into the cabin? It sounds amazing. Mash the throttle and the turbo-6 will give you an angry burble that I would describe as some unholy combination of LS7 V8 and old-school Porsche flat-6.
It's not so loud that everyone hears you coming 6 blocks away, nor is it obnoxious that your passengers will roll their eyes every time you make a passing maneuver...it is just pure enjoyment.
Three pedals good, but two pedals might be better.
I was really surprised that this was a manual transmission car. When I got the call, I was sure it was DCT equipped model. Everything about the manual trans and clutch worked together perfectly. The shifts were short but deliberate, the the clutch pedal was lighter than I expected but had the right amount of feedback.
BMW also placed the pedals close enough for some heel-toe action. I love manual transmissions, but while I was driving the M4 I couldn't help but think if the flappy-paddles would be a fit better with the character of the car.
I'm not sure I want one.
Before I go any further, let me say than owning an M car particularly an M3 has been on my bucket list for sometime. I really wanted to fall in love with this car and I didn't. Maybe if I drove it for a day or even an hour, I would feel differently. Perhaps if I was a more skilled driver, like Mike Spinelli, I would really enjoy it. I have had similar seat time in both a 911 and a Ferrari F430, and within minutes I knew I wanted to own those cars. They just felt right...the M4 not so much.
Is the M4 an amazing car? Yes. Should you buy one? Well... you should definitely test drive one, and don't automatically dismiss the M-Double Clutch gearbox. If you are a life-long M fan, I hope you fall in love with it, but if I had the cash I'd probably pick up a lightly used E90 or roll the dice on an E46.
(Terrible photos via Tom McParland)
If you have a question, a tip, or something you would like to to share about car-buying, drop me a line at AutomatchConsulting@gmail.com and be sure to include your Kinja handle.