by Roger Biermann
The 2019 M4 Coupe is the performance-focused range-topping derivative of the 4 Series Coupe lineup. The current model is part of the first generation M4 introduced in 2015. In the past, it would be called an M3 Coupe, but after the sedan and coupe nomenclatures were split, coupes became known as the 4 Series... that is, until they blurred the lines even further with the 4 Series Gran Coupe - a story for another day. The M4 has a reputation for razor-sharp handling and jaw-dropping performance while still being practical enough as a daily driver. The combination of the 425-horsepower twin-turbo inline-six, or up to 444 hp with the Competition Package, with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch auto is a winning one, and buyers can't go wrong with either. Still, for those in search of something exclusive, the M4 CS gets 454 hp and less weight. Staying true to its heritage, it's only available in rear-wheel-drive. Despite its credentials, there's no way for the M4 to rest on its laurels with the Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe and Audi RS5 coupe breathing down its neck.
Parking Sensors and onboard navigation have become standard features. Apple CarPlay has also been added, but only with a one-year subscription, requiring a renewal fee once every 12 months.
The M4 looks stunning, especially with the Competition Package added for styling enhancements. In its standard guise, it has aggressive upswept LED headlights with pointed ends sitting above a chiseled bumper, with huge, angled air intakes. The side profile is sleek with subtle M4 badging behind the front wheels, and flowing lines ending at a subtle trunk spoiler. A distinctive feature of the M4 is the carbon fiber roof designed to save weight. Four tailpipes show the world that the M4 means business and are located under a molded bumper with an integrated wraparound LED taillight cluster. Wheels are standard 18-inch M V-spoke items, but in typical BMW fashion, they can be upgraded to a variety of 19- and 20-inch designs. The special edition M4 CS is available with an array of carbon-fiber exterior enhancements and specific staggered 19- and 20-inch alloy wheels, while the brake calipers get signature gold treatment. The CS also gets model-specific OLED taillights.
The M4 has average dimensions that are on par with the rest of the compact luxury coupe segment, sharing much of its underpinnings with the old F30 3 Series sedan. It has a length of 184.5 inches and rides on a 110.7-inch wheelbase. The height is 54.4 inches - marginally taller than a base 430i - and the width is 73.6 inches excluding the mirrors, which is nearly two inches wider than a standard 4 Series. At a curb weight of 3,625 lbs in manual guise, the M4 is lighter than the C63's 4,109 lbs and the Audi RS5's 3,968 lb curb weight, while equipping the DCT automatic gearbox sees the M4's mass rise to 3,685 lbs. 4.7 inches of ground clearance gives the M4 Coupe a road-hugging presence.
All 11 metallic and non-metallic colors available for 2019 are carried over from 2018. Thankfully, the M4 has some vibrant colors in the range compared to some BMW models with more conservative palettes. BMW's trademark Alpine White is the only non-metallic color with no added cost. The metallics, comprising Black Sapphire, Sakhir Orange, Yas Marina Blue, Austin Yellow, and Mineral Grey and White, are also affordable at $550. The price shoots up to $1,950 for the BMW Individual colors including Smoked Topaz, Tanzanite Blue, Champagne Quartz, and Azurite Black. The CS gets three additional colors unique to the limited edition model, with Lime Rock Grey, Frozen Dark Blue II, and the Signature San Marino Blue all offered, in addition to Black Sapphire and Alpine White carried over from the standard M4.
High performance is the calling card of the M4, and with three available power outputs and two transmissions, buyers get their fair share of performance tailored to their own personal needs. With power outputs ranging from 425 hp in its base guise to 454 hp in CS form, 0-60 mph takes as little as 3.7 seconds when equipped with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox on the CS. Series production M4s achieve the same sprint slightly slower, taking 3.9 seconds in Competition guise before heading on to a limited top speed of 174 mph, or 156 mph in base form. Models equipped with the six-speed manual gearbox sacrifice 0.2 seconds on all sprint times.
But while power outputs and sprint times may vary, one thing remains the same across the range. All M4's are rear-wheel-driven, much the same as the Mercedes-AMG C63, while the Audi RS5 offers an all-wheel-drive alternative for those who prefer precision over tire smoke.
BMW sells the M4 with a single engine under the hood, available in three states of tune. As standard, the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six - dubbed the S55 - develops 425 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, while the Competition Package raises the power figure to 444 hp while retaining the same amount of twist. If you're fortunate enough to pick up a limited-edition M4 CS, the power figure takes another hike, this time to 454 hp. The base M4 and Competition Package models can be equipped with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, while the CS is only available with the latter.
As appealing as the self-shifter may seem, the DCT is really the one you want. The manual doesn't have the greatest shift action, and with traction-breaking turbo-torque on standby, the DCT is the best way to keep both hands on the wheel. You'll need to, too, as the M4 breaks traction incredibly easily. The hit of torque is near-instantaneous, but there's still some semblance of turbo-lag present. However, lag or not, the M4 is rapid from both a standstill and when performing rolling overtaking maneuvers.
Despite the impressive performance numbers, the M4 is an everyday sports car that's equally at home on the school run or on the track. The drive is firm enough for sporty applications while still being soft enough for everyday driving. Unfortunately, the electronically assisted steering numbs some of the steering's feel, leaving it a bit vague compared to older models, but hey, that's progress, according to BMW. Many have complained about the mediocre engine note that has a sufferable drone at lower speeds, but it's a small price to pay for the sake of the inline-six's storming performance.
While steering feel and ride comfort may have suffered somewhat compared to M3 Coupe's of old, the M4 still retains benchmark status in the compact luxury coupe segment. It might lack feel, but it's razor-sharp and can dismantle a canyon road or racetrack better than almost all rivals - dismissing corners in a cold, sterile, typically German way.
But things have improved, and year on year BMW seems to have made the most incremental updates to the software at play that mean the current iteration of the M4 is also the best yet. Compared to early models, it rides better, handles sweeter, and deploys its power in a more manageable fashion. The CS just offers more of everything, but the differences over the Competition Package are so incremental that we can't justify the price premium.
Performance seldom comes with great fuel economy, but with the change to a turbo six-pot from the V8 of old, the M4 strikes a good compromise. In base guise and with the manual gearbox in play, the EPA accords it estimates of 18/25/20 mpg city/highway/combined, for both the standard and Competition variants. The DCT-equipped variants - CS included - see a marginal drop to 17/23/19 mpg. A 15.8-gallon gas tank, requiring only the finest premium unleaded gasoline, sees the M4 travel 316 miles in mixed conditions, but that's provided you're able to resist liberal use of the throttle - an act that will see real-world figures plummet.
The M4 shares many of the design elements of the standard 4 Series, with only a few unique touches to differentiate it. There's stylish contrast stitching in the light blue, dark blue, and red on both the steering wheel and on the seat belts. Other than that the M4 has the usual solid BMW interior with both soft and hard-touch materials put together with great attention to detail. Despite the quality, the interior of the M4 is showing its age and doesn't come close to the rival Mercedes and Audi cars. Both the RS5 and AMG C63 Coupe are far more up to date with digital instrumentation screens and larger infotainment displays, and they make the driver feel like they are driving something special. Despite the few small touches, the M4's interior feels like just other BMWs. The CS tries to remedy this with microsuede interior panels and CS adornments, but ultimately, it suffers the fate of not feeling as special as a car of this caliber should.
For a two-door coupe, the M4 can comfortably seat four in a two+two configuration. Front occupants get more than enough space with 39.8 inches of headroom and 42.2 inches of legroom. Rear passengers aren't as lucky, but still get 36.1 inches of headroom that's restricted by the sloping roofline. They also get a tiny 33.7 inches of legroom, which is passable for a coupe of this size, but means that only short adults will comfortably find a perch back there. Accessing the rear seats is also tricky, as the bulky M performance front seats hamper access to the rear buckets. The center of the rear seat is taken up by a fixed smallish storage tray, and there's no rear armrest. For those up front, the seats are comfortable and supportive, and the range of adjustment means there's an ideal driving position ready for almost all drivers.
The interior of the M4 looks dated but still uses premium materials, and gives buyers the option of choosing their own trims and upholstery to suit their tastes. For an M car, it's disappointing that combination leather and cloth seating is standard instead of full leather options. At least there's a choice of extended Merino leather options to choose from, including Silverstone, Sakhir Orange with Black, Black, and Sonoma Beige for a price of $950. Full Merino leather is also available in the same colors but at a higher price of $3,500. BMW offers more in the way of custom upholstery with Golden Brown, Nutmeg, Opal White, Amaro Brown, and Cohiba Brown at a $3,500 premium.
Carbon fiber trim with chrome, and Aluminum Blade with black are standard at no extra cost. The wood grains comprising of Dark Red Sycamore, Fineline Anthracite, White Ash and Piano Black come at a cost of $1,080. Unique to the CS are Alcantara door panels and dash trim, with engraved CS lettering, while the seats are upholstered in leather and Alcantara with contrast stitching and M-color striping.
The M4 has a reasonable amount of trunk space at 11 cubic feet. The rear seat splits 60/40 for more convenience, and there's also a smaller cargo compartment in the trunk because there's no spare tire. The AMG C63 Coupe has only 10.5 cubic feet of cargo space, and the Audi RS5 Coupe has 11.6 cubic feet of cargo space comparatively.
Storage space for smaller items also comes at a premium. The door pockets are small, and front seatback storage is non-existent. The small storage tray between the rear seats has no lid and lacks practicality. What the M4 does have is a decent glovebox and a big center console storage area with a USB port.
While having a wide array of features, the M4 doesn't come close to the more modern rivals in its class and lacks many of the expected driver aids, such as lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. However it still comes standard with a sport-tuned adaptive suspension, power-folding heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, heated-power-adjustable front seats with memory functions, and launch control. Blind-spot monitoring, a head-up display, heated steering wheel, a surround-view camera, adaptive and LED headlights are all options. Many would argue that the M4 is a pure driver's car, focused more on an experience that's undiluted by electronic aids getting in the way. This may be true, but it's still good to have those features and let the driver decide whether to use them or not.
The infotainment system in the M4 gets the job done but isn't that much better than the standard 4 series. It gets an 8.8-inch infotainment screen with no touch capability but luckily has the intuitive BMW iDrive interface. It also comes with a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system, a rearview camera, onboard navigation, USB input, AM/FM radio, and SiriusXM satellite radio with a one-year subscription. Android Auto isn't available at all and Apple CarPlay, while standard, is subscription-based with only the first year included for free. Wireless charging is an optional extra, while Wi-Fi is another feature that's not available.
Just one recall has affected the 2019 BMW M4, with a potential 5,079 BMW vehicles including the M4 at risk of knee airbags that might not deploy properly. Aside from this, though the M4 has managed to avoid complaints from owners.
The German brand covers the M4 with a basic warranty and powertrain warranty of four years/50,000 miles. The corrosion and perforation warranty lasts for 12-years and unlimited mileage, while the BMW Ultimate Care maintenance plan lasts for three years/36,000 miles. There is also roadside assistance valid for four years/unlimited mileage.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has test data regarding the M4, nor for the 4 Series on which it's based. But it's unlikely BMW would let a single model leave the factory if it weren't guaranteed to keep the occupants safe on the road or track.
The M4 has many standard safety features, such as six airbags including side curtain, dual front, and front side airbags. It also has traction control, a pre-collision system, four-wheel ABS, emergency braking preparation, emergency braking assist, and a rearview camera. Unfortunately, the M4 has very few driver aids compared to its rivals with adaptive headlights, parking assistant, surround-view camera, a head-up display, and blind-spot monitoring all being optional extras.
Five years into its tenure as the range-topping BMW 4 Series, the M4 will soon be coming up for replacement. Yet for those in search of a compact performance luxury coupe, it's still the go-to choice. Incredible performance from lower outputs than rivals, incisive handling, and the availability of a manual gearbox, are all key drawcards here, and although it may lack the refinement and technological advancement of rival sports coupes, the M4 still holds a special place in the hearts of driving enthusiasts. Through each year model, BMW has made incremental changes that see the 2019 M4 being the best it's ever been. For precision rear-wheel-drive thrills, the M4 is still the benchmark, even if we do wish it felt a little more special, and a little more involving.
The BMW M4 Coupe starts at a price of $69,150 for the manual M4, excluding the delivery fee of $995. Opting for the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox adds another $2,900 to the asking price. In addition to the starting price, there are also licensing, registration, and taxes to be paid. For those seeking one of only 500 2019 M4 CS models, expect to pay a base MSRP of $103,100 - provided you can find a dealership that won't bump the price up for the sake of exclusivity.
2019 sees two BMW M4 derivatives on sale - the standard M4 and the M4 CS.
Regardless of your choice, you get a rear-wheel-drive sports coupe with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six developing 425 hp in base guise, and 454 hp in CS form. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on the base model, while the optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is standard on the CS, and optional on the base M4.
Standard features on the base M4 include 18-inch wheels, keyless entry and ignition, a sport-tuned suspension, power-folding heated mirrors, dual-zone climate control, launch control, and heated power-adjustable seats with memory function. The infotainment system consists of an 8.8-inch display connected to BMW's iDrive controller. It also has a Harman Kardon 16-speaker surround sound system, a rearview camera, onboard navigation, USB input, AM/FM radio, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio with a one-year subscription. Apple CarPlay comes as a standard feature but only with a one-year subscription before annual licensing is required.
The M4 CS gets more power, but it also comes standard with the Competition Package equipment and suspension as standard, M Dynamic Mode, the Active M Differential, OLED taillights, and staggered 19/20-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. The M4 CS also gets bespoke exterior color choices, while inside, Alcantara trim and lightweight sports seats are standard fare.
In typical BMW fashion, your M4 can be upgraded by means of packages and standalone options, all driving the price sky-high.
For most, only one option will matter - the Competition Package - which increases power to 444 hp, equips the Active M Differential, Competition suspension tune, Shadowline exterior detailing, and 20-inch alloy wheels in various designs. The Competition Package is priced at $4,750 and is standard on the M4 CS.
Additionally, the Executive Package costs a further $2,100 but adds adaptive full-LED headlights, automatic high beams, side and top-view cameras, parking assistant, and a driver's head-up display.
Carbon-ceramic brakes are an $8,150 upgrade, while items like blind-spot monitoring ($500), a head-up display ($1,100), and wireless device charging ($500) are standalone options.
With three effective combinations to choose from, there's an M4 suited to various kinds of buyers, but we'd recommend staying clear of the M4 CS as the price doesn't justify the upgrades it comes equipped with. The standard M4 equipped with the Competition Package is a perfect match, especially when paired with the seven-speed DCT gearbox. The Executive Package adds some much-needed technological enhancements to the M4, making it the perfect pick, at a not-too-eye-watering price of $78,900. It's the best balance of performance and practicality, and takes the M4 to the levels it should've been at from the start.
Traditionally BMW has always offered a more exhilarating driving experience, while Mercedes was more luxury-orientated - but the lines have been blurred in recent years with both straying into the other's territory. The C63 starts at $68,750 and has a 469-hp turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 with a nine-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel-drive, with the option to upgrade to a 503 hp S version. It has a splendid interior that's lightyears ahead of the BMW, and offers many more features and driver aids. Despite being older, the M4 still has more of a sporty and aggressive look compared to the elegant lines of the AMG C63 Coupe. While the M4 might look better, the V8 in the AMG C63 Coupe definitely sounds better with more of a roar than a drone. The M4 starts at $69,150 and has 44 hp less than the Mercedes. It also has the option of a manual transmission that Mercedes doesn't offer. For a fun sports car with a manual transmission, the M4 is fantastic, but the AMG C63 Coupe is a more rounded performer for roughly the same price.
The Audi RS5 Coupe is another thorn in the side of the M4, but starts off at a much higher price of $74,200. The RS5 Coupe has a more modern look than the M4 and was only introduced in 2018. It's powered by a 444-hp turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 with an eight-speed automatic transmission and permanent all-wheel-drive system. Not only is the RS5 Coupe more powerful than the M4, but it can also challenge it when it comes to fantastic handling and a more direct steering feel. The interior of the Audi has a futuristic look that leaves the M4 in its dust, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard features. While the RS5 Coupe may be the better car for daily driving, the M4 has some special qualities that the Audi can't touch. The fact that the M4 comes in rear-wheel-drive with the optional manual transmission gives it a drive quality that's hard to match, and fans should enjoy it while they can.