Supercar-style performance comes in many shapes and forms. Some of them might not even necessarily require a lottery win for ownership. Take this car, the improved version of the second generation 'G83'-series BMW M4 Competition Convertible. It has a serious need for speed.
As before, body style apart, this car remains largely identical to its M4 Competition Coupe xDrive stablemate. And, as with that car, this update has brought a little more power, a sharper look and a bit of extra cabin tech. As before, this open-topped M4 is only offered here in AWD form and only sold in the UK in top 'Competition'-spec guise.
All the key numbers stack up here; there's now 530hp from the latest 'S58' version of BMW's classic straight six 3.0-litre powerplant. Peak power is now delivered at higher revs - 6,250rpm, rather than 5,600rpm. Torque is still rated at a prodigious 650Nm, but is held for an extra 230rpm. Enough to simply hurl you up the road in almost any gear. For this Convertible M4 Competition model, as with the Coupe, xDrive 4WD is non-negotiable, the set-up being one you can also customise for a rear-driven feel if you want it. The transmission is a ZF 8-speeder and if you're quick with the provided paddleshifters, 62mph from rest will be dispatched in 3.7s. On the way to a top speed that'll be raised to 174mph if you pay the extra for the optional 'M Pro Package'.
All of that's accompanied by a glorious roar from the active sports exhaust, whose soundtrack is one of the things you can alter either via this centre console 'Setup' button or the centre stack display's selectable 'M Menu'. Either way, you get to a screen allowing you to tailor your preferred drive settings and store your two most favoured combinations behind these little red 'M1' and 'M2' tabs on the steering wheel - one perhaps for commuting, the other maybe for your favourite backroad. You can alter parameters for engine, transmission and steering; plus there are three 'chassis' options for the suppleness of the Adaptive M suspension with its electronically controlled damping; and two pedal feel settings for the M Compound brakes. Plus there's a centre console 'M Mode' button, which offers 'Road', 'Sport' and 'Track' settings, each of which changes the instrument display and the level of drive assistance system intervention.
Braver folks can use the 'M Menu' to deactivate the DSC traction system and play with the track-orientated 'M Drift Analyser'. BMW's standard 'M Drive Professional' package also includes an 'M Laptimer', plus the brand has also redesigned the cooling and oil supply systems specially for circuit use.
Design and Build
There aren't too many visual changes to the updated version of this G82-series M4 Convertible. The headlights and tail lamps have been tweaked, the latter using the same 'glassfibre bundle' technology that first featured on the M4 CSL. As before, this model's neat panel bow soft top roof complements crisp body lines to generate a distinctive, powerful profile. The roof aims to deliver the best of both worlds, fusing the practical benefits of a retractable hardtop with the classic style of a fabric hood. The soft top's electric drive mechanism allows it to be opened or closed, while on the move, at speeds up to 31mph, a process which takes 18 seconds. With the roof either open or closed, the vehicle's profile accentuates the M-specific design features. The front-end lines of the car converge on the vertical BMW kidney grille and, together with the large apertures to either side, the kidney grille ensures sufficient cooling air is always channelled through to the powertrain and braking. The slim headlights use LED units as standard to generate both low and high beam. Other key design elements include flared wheel arches, M Side Gills integrated into the front side panels and prominently extended side sills that combine with the attachment parts for the front and rear aprons to form a black band around the whole of the car. The black rear diffusor frames the exhaust system's two pairs of tailpipes.
Inside, the cabin screens (14.9-inches for the infotainment and 12.3-inches for the instruments) look the same but have software updated from version 8.0 to 8.5, which means extra features and enhanced voice control for the climate functions. As before, this is billed as a 'proper four-seater', though the rear seat isn't as comfortable as in the M4 Coupe. Predictably, there's not as much boot space either. When driving with the top down, the boot can hold 300-litres of luggage. When it's closed, the variable soft top compartment increases load capacity to 385-litres.
Market and Model
The M4 Competition Convertible xDrive retails at around £88,000, which is around £4,000 more than a fixed-top M4 Competition Coupe xDrive. This top model is set apart from a humbler M440i 'M Performance' 4 Series Convertible variant by Bicolour Black M Double-spoke forged alloy wheels (19-inchers at the front and 20-inchers at the rear), plus a black finish for the rear diffuser, the rear spoiler and the M Sport exhaust system.
Signature M details include red accents for the M buttons on the M leather steering wheel and the start/stop button on the centre console. The selector lever with-Drivelogic switch is leather surfaced with an embedded M logo and stitching in M colours. Interior trim strips in Carbon Fibre High-gloss are standard, as is fine-grain Merino black leather trim and M sport seats, which are electrically adjustable and heated. These seats have pronounced side bolsters, integrated head restraints and an illuminated model badge. There's also an M Head-up Display.
Drive stuff for this M4 model includes M Steptronic transmission with DRIVELOGIC, an Active M Differential, M Compound brakes and the extra driving modes of the M Drive Professional package. A highlight of the options list is the new M Carbon bucket seats for the driver and front passenger, which include CFRP in their construction and save 9.6kg over the standard M sport seats. These can be specified on their own or within the M Carbon Package.
Cost of Ownership
You won't be expecting a 530hp motorsport-tuned super sports convertible to be inexpensive to run - and of course, this one isn't. The best that BMW could do was to make it class-competitive - or at least class competitive against non-electrified rivals - and they have at least done that. For the M4 Competition Convertible xDrive, the readings are 27.7mpg and up to 231g/km.
These kinds of readings are kept in check by BMW EfficientDynamics technology features like electromechanical power steering, Auto Stop-Start, Brake Energy Regeneration and on-demand control of engine ancillary components. But they might still give some browsing buyers cause for concern. Even to get anywhere near the figures we just quoted, you'll need to drive with considerable restraint, with the engine in its 'Efficient' M Menu setting and the centre console 'M Mode' button set in its most sensible 'Road' format. You can monitor just how much high octane fuel you're using via a graphical read-out provided in the centre screen's 'Journey Data' section, part of a 'Driving Information' section that also has an 'Energy flow' graphic.
But of course as an M4 owner, that's the last thing you'll want to do. Drive this car in anger as it was meant to be driven and the figures we've given you will of course disappear in a high octane haze. And if you use your right boot in anger a good percentage of the time, you'll certainly chew through consumables like tyres and brake pads. Plus the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres will be fearsomely expensive to replace, so bear that in mind before you go experimenting for too long on track days with the 'M Drift Analyser'.