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2015 BMW M4: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader December 2014

The 2015 BMW M4 has some exceptionally big shoes to fill. Although this is M4's first year on the market, it's actually a 2-door version of the all-new 2015 M3 sedan -- and 2-door M3s have been roaming the streets since the original 1980s coupe. The M3 has always been known for its sublime handling, scintillating engines and civil disposition, leading many to view it as the ultimate all-around performance car.

Does the M4 do justice to its rich heritage? That depends on whom you ask. Some enthusiasts insist that the M4's twin-turbo inline-6 lacks the character of its high-revving, naturally aspirated predecessors, but there's never been a 2-door M3 as fast or as capable as the 425-horsepower M4. Throw in BMW's familiar air of sophistication, and you have one of the most compelling sport-luxury cars on the market.

What's New for 2015?

The 2015 M4 is an all-new 2-door version of the iconic M3.

What We Like

Thunderous acceleration; hugely capable handling; well-trimmed interior with cutting-edge technology; available retractable hardtop

What We Don't

Unyielding ride; fake engine noises piped through the speakers

How Much?


Fuel Economy

The rear-wheel-drive 2015 M4 is motivated by a twin-turbocharged inline-6 engine rated at 425 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission comes standard, with a 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual (known as M DCT) offered as an option. According to BMW, the coupe gets to 60 miles per hour in just 3.9 seconds with M DCT (4.1 with the 6-speed), while the convertible needs 4.2 seconds (4.4 with the 6-speed). The 6-speed features an automatic rev-matching feature for professional-grade downshifts. All M4 models include an auto stop/start feature that conserves fuel by shutting off the engine at rest.

The Environmental Protection Agency rates both the coupe and convertible at 17 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway with the 6-speed and 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy with the 7-speed. For reference, the previous-generation M3 coupe and convertible topped out at 20 mpg hwy with their racy V8 engine.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 M4 comes in a single well-equipped trim level as either a coupe or a retractable-hardtop convertible.

Standard features on the M4 coupe ($65,150) include an aero body kit with flared fenders and a powerdome hood, adjustable drive settings, a sport-tuned suspension (with upgraded components relative to regular 4 Series models), M-spec performance brakes, a torque-vectoring rear differential, 18-inch staggered-width alloy wheels with performance tires, automatic wipers, auto-leveling adaptive xenon headlights, auto-dimming mirrors, a sport exhaust system with quad tailpipes, 10-way power-heated front sport seats with adjustable side bolsters (and a backlit M logo on the seat back), driver memory settings, cloth and leather upholstery, carbon fiber interior trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, smartphone app integration, a 9-speaker audio system with HD radio, and the iDrive infotainment system with an 8.8-in widescreen display, a navigation system, voice controls, hard-drive music storage and a USB interface.

The M4 convertible ($73,450) adds a retractable hardtop with a rear-window defroster and extended leather upholstery with sun-reflective technology that helps keep the surfaces cool on hot days.

Both coupe and convertible are eligible for a few options packages. The Lighting package adds adaptive LED headlights and automatic high beams. The Executive package throws in retractable headlight washers, keyless entry/start, a head-up display, satellite radio, a heated steering wheel, a neck-warming vent system (convertible only), a rearview camera and parking sensors. The Driver Assistance Plus package tacks on side- and top-view cameras, active blind spot detection, lane departure warning and a forward-collision mitigation system with automatic braking.

Standalone options include (very expensive) carbon ceramic brake rotors, adaptive suspension dampers with adjustable settings, 19-in wheels, a self-parking system and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system. Coupes are additionally eligible for a sunroof and a power rear sunshade.

The convertible's trunk checks in at a generous 13 cu ft with the top up, dropping to 7.8 cubes with it stowed. The coupe offers 11 cubes.


All 2015 M4s come standard with anti-lock disc brakes and stability control. The coupe has eight airbags (front, front-side, front-knee and full-length side-curtain), while the convertible has eight of its own (front, front-side, front-knee and extended front-thorax). Also standard is the BMW Assist emergency telematics system, which includes automatic accident notification, stolen vehicle tracking and roadside assistance.

The Driver Assistance Plus package (see above) adds a number of high-tech electronic driving aids.

Behind the Wheel

In our interior evaluation of the 2015 M4, we found the materials and design to be sufficiently upscale for the car's lofty price. That's pretty impressive given that the same basic cabin appears in the dramatically cheaper BMW 428i. You can see and feel the attention to detail, and that sets the M4 apart from such cars as high-end Chevrolet Camaros that are primarily designed for speed. The standard front sports seats are sublimely supportive, and their wide range of adjustments ensures that just about anyone can get comfortable behind the wheel; the modest rear seats, however, are mostly for kids or cargo.

On the technology front, the upgraded version of iDrive comes standard on every M4. Highlights include navigation, a beautiful 8.8-in widescreen display, a new touchpad interface and hard-drive music storage. All told, it's one of the best infotainment systems in the industry. It's a shame that BMW doesn't include keyless entry and ignition, too, even though it's a common standard feature in this price bracket.

On the road, the 2015 BMW M4 is a dominant force. The twin-turbo inline-6 delivers massive power at virtually any rate of revolutions per minute, which means that you often don't have to downshift for face-flattening acceleration -- just punch the gas and ride the tsunami of low-end torque. On the downside, the turbos naturally muffle the engine's exhaust note, so BMW provides simulated noises that automatically play through the speakers when you're on the throttle. We found that the noise intensity didn't always match up with the way we were driving, and the noises themselves didn't quite sound like those of an inline-6. In terms of performance, no one will find the M4's engine lacking. When you give it the spurs, you're in for a wild ride.

In tight corners, the M4 seems somewhat larger than its forebears, and its steering doesn't have the same intimate feel. Once you get a rhythm going, however, you'll find that few cars are agile enough to keep up. One thing we'd like to see BMW tweak a little is the ride; it's rather stiff by historic M3 standards, even when the optional adaptive dampers are in Comfort mode.

Other Cars to Consider

Audi RS 5 -- The understated RS 5 has an awesome naturally aspirated V8, just like the previous M3 coupe and convertible did, though it only comes with an automatic transmission.

Chevrolet Corvette -- If you don't need the M4's back seat, the C7 Corvette will give the BMW all it can handle, from performance and style to interior appointments and overall value.

Ford Mustang GT -- The Mustang GT makes 10 more hp than the M4 (435 hp vs. 425), and its fresh styling inside and out give it a legitimately premium vibe.

Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG -- The C63 coupe is about to be replaced, but try one if you can find it, because its hand-built 6.2-liter V8 is a work of art.

Used BMW M3 -- Thanks to depreciation and BMW's robust certified pre-owned program, you can get a V8-powered previous-generation M3 coupe or convertible with a factory warranty for a fraction of the M4's price.

AutoTrader's Advice

To minimize impact harshness, consider foregoing the M4's optional 19-in wheels in favor of the standard 18-in wheels with their more compliant tires. Otherwise, have a blast, because not many cars are as riveting to drive as this BMW.

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2015 BMW M4: New Car Review - Autotrader