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BMW has recently given its 4-series range a mid-life refresh, I will admit to struggling to tell the difference, but BMW assures me that they have made a number of changes. This nip and tuck treatment has also been applied to the range-topping M4, including the Competition Package convertible.
Amongst an array of enhancements you now get what BMW refer to as “Icon Adaptive LED headlights”, these can also be specced with hexagonal graphics as an option should you want to, at the back, it's more of the same with the addition of 3D LED rear lights. Also included is the professional navigation system with revised user interface, inductive charging for your phone and wi-fi hotspot capability.
Think of this as the light touch approach to facelifting a car, as in, slight improvements looks wise, improve what you cannot see and you’re good to go.
As with all BMW M cars of recent years, the inside is very well made and full of very nice materials, also, the navigation has been improved via the revised interface.
The layout is all focused on the driver with easy access to all of the essential controls, the only one of these that you’ll need though is the button marked ‘M2’. Press this and the car switches into M mode, this gives you a race inspired heads up display, a sharpened throttle response and steering along with more noise from the exhaust.
All of this wonderful noise comes from that 3.0 litre straight-six twin-turbo motor, you still get 444bhp, thankfully BMW didn’t change it as it’s still a gem of a unit.
An M4 With A Manual
Yes, you read that correctly, my M4 Competition test car was equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox, this is standard from the factory as the 7-Speed DCT box is an optional extra. I did a quick online search for manual equipped M4’s and found that around 8% come with three pedals, while this number is not definitive, it does show you that most buyers opt for the DCT box rather than change gear for themselves.
Last year I drove the M4 Competition coupe equipped with the DCT seven-speed gearbox so my initial thought was along the lines of ‘No way will the manual will be better’ The M4 Competition convertible is slower than its fixed-roof DCT equipped brother running the 0-62mph dash in 4.5 seconds (4.3 seconds for the DCT), when you stand this next to the 4.0 seconds of the coupe DCT model it’s quite a gap. Top speed however, remains unchange across the revised M3/M4 lineup with the electronic limiter stopping you at 155mph.
Part of the reason for this off the line gap is the 250kg weight gain over the coupe model, gone is the carbon-fibre roof and in its place is 70kg of folding metal roof which sits over the rear axle when stowed.
The Heaviest And Slowest M4 You Can Buy
So, this is the slowest and heaviest version of an M4 Competition you can buy. Things get worse when you drive the car on bumpy roads as well, due to the additional weight the car bangs and crashes slightly as you drive over bumps, the handling is also affected very slightly, you can feel the additional load in the corners, the difference is minor but it’s definitely there.
Not a great start you may think, as for why would you buy a heavier, slower version of the M4 that will only allow you to put the roof down for a few days a year when the weather is actually good.
Involving And Astonishing In High Definition
You’d be wrong, very wrong as it’s possibly the most involving and astonishing version you can buy.
The excellent six-speed manual offers slick changes and gives the driver total control, at no point while driving it did I miss the DCT box at all. Open the roof and you have full high definition access to all that sky as the world comes flooding in, the best part of putting the roof down is that you get the full and uncensored sound of that magnificent 3.0-litre straight-six engine.
With the roof stowed and the car in M mode, the extra weight and the slightly harsher ride becomes irrelevant, you get a front-row seat to a great sounding engine which sounds better and better as you work your way through the slick manual gearbox. Plant the throttle and the noise the engine makes becomes more and more aggressive, the sound of the turbo’s spinning up and the exhaust burble and bangs add to the entire experience.
The manual gearbox allows the driver total involvement in the M4 Competition, don’t get me wrong the seven-speed DCT is a very good gearbox, but with the manual, you just feel more immersed in the actual business of driving the car.
Should You Buy The Coupe Or The Convertible
If you’re the type person who occasionally goes to a track, buy the M4 Competition coupe with a DCT box as it’s one of the great cars to drive in 2017. If however, you want a little more involvement and immersion in the driving of the car, buy the M4 Competition convertible with three pedals, it’s as simple as that.
On the day I tested the M4 Competition convertible, I’ll admit I had my reservations, I thought it would never be as good as the coupe model, but, I was wrong. Dynamically it's not the best version of the M4, some sharpness is missing with the loss of the roof, and the ride and handling also suffer due to the additional weight gain. Being realistic this was always going to be the case, but for what it loses it gains it back and then some by upping driver involvement and giving you full access to that magnificent engine and the sound it emits.
I never thought I’d say this, but if it were my money, I’d have the manual box with the convertible roof just because of that noise and the level of driver involvement.
Engine: Inline 6-cylinder 3.0, Twin-Turbocharged, Petrol
Power and Torque: 444bhp, 550nm
Gearbox: 6-Speed Manual(7-speed DCT Optional) Kerb weight: 1,765kg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 4.5 seconds (4.3 seconds for DCT 7-Speed)
Economy: 31mpg (combined) CO2:213g/km Price: £65,380 (as tested £TBC)
Verdict - 4.3/5 - Yes, you can feel the extra weight by the loss of the roof. But the M4 Competition is both astonishing and involving in equal measure, put the roof down and you will be immersed in that engine noise and the fury it emits.
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