BMW M4 Competition Convertible Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Thursday 5th October


What is it like to drive?

Is it like an M4, then?

In many important ways, yes. That engine still has all the same aural and physical cues of the coupe - it sounds excitingly straight-six-ish with the exhaust on full loud and stretched further up the rev-range, and it still has 479lb ft of torque which makes quick overtakes safe and precise. It’s a real point-and-squirt car, with the excellent 8-speed automatic doing a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to usability; fast and sure when going quickly, happy to dawdle and cruise though traffic with equal ease. Knock all the systems back into comfort running and the M4 Cab reins right in, to the point where you wonder whether it’s the same car. Good stuff.

Probably worth noting here that if you use the power, the efficiency will drop like a stone. TG managed 35+mpg being relatively gentle, but that dropped to 15mpg going fast. Saying that, the car is capable of such rapid performance that there has to be a tradeoff somewhere - 0-62mph in 3.7 is absolutely achievable and startlingly fussless, and if you option the ‘M Driver’s Package’ then you get a 180mph top speed. That’s a wig worrier if ever there was one.

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So there’s no downsides to lopping the roof off?

Erm. No. Not quite. As with all of these things, decapitation requires strengthening elsewhere, so the M4 Comp Cab gets rigid-mounted rear subframes, some underbody RSJs and other support. It’s not a light car, weighing in at a shade over 1,900kg, making it around 150kg heavier than the fixed-roof. That’s not an insignificant amount of extra weight. And it doesn’t - quite - make the difference up, either. On a really bobbly bit of British B-road, the M4 Cab can shake pretty hard, both through the scuttle and the steering column. Yes, you can mitigate that by playing with the various suspension settings, but you can never delete it, and you never forget that this is a convertible. Knock back the aggression and be calm and it’s obviously less noticeable, but coupe drivers would be aghast. TG simply put on the standard airscarf hot air blowers and went a bit slower until the roads smoothed out.

So it suits smoother roads, then?

And then some. Grip is reliable, relatable and exploitable. The xDrive system feels even more useful than ever before, and even in the more dynamic modes feels more rear-wheel drive than anything else - to the point where TG isn’t sure where a full rear-wheel drive mode would be useful outside a drifting demo or donut competition. The steering remains slightly compromised even on smallish bumps, and can get weirdly light in some modes, but generally this is a car that can cover ground startlingly quickly and with a lovely noise piped directly into your ears. On the right road, it’s genuinely lovely.

You mentioned modes. Are there modes?

Yes, and lots of them. You can mess with the steering weight, throttle response, brake weight, exhaust, dampers… and fine-tune even within the broader pre-sets. The hardest settings unsurprisingly accentuate the car’s dynamic weak spots unless you’re on a glass-smooth surface, but after a bit of fiddling there were excellent compromises to be had. We keep going back to the xDrive system, but it really does allow the car to feel playful and engaging without being antisocial - find the damper setting that works best for your favourite road, always have the exhaust at maximum noise, and you’re looking at a really fun convertible to punt around.

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