by Jay Traugott
BMW had a clear-cut choice to make: go bold or stay the course. It chose the former. Introducing the all-new 2021 BMW M4 Coupe, an even more powerful and technology-packed high-performance luxury vehicle than its immediate predecessor. Bear in mind this is only the second-generation M4, as previously the M3 was both a sedan and coupe. That changed in 2014 when the German automaker decided to split the two in order to give the coupe its own unique attitude. The first-generation model largely succeeded. Its successor, however, takes BMW design to a new level, as does the also new M3 sedan.
Did BMW make the right styling decision here? After all, the regular 4 Series also sports that massive front grille that is, shall we say, a bit polarizing. Time will tell but one thing is for certain: the new M4's sharp styling matches its driving and handling capabilities. Those in search of an all-powerful luxury coupe with world-class engineering and performance, look no further.
3.0-liter Twin-Turbo Inline-6 Gas
Like the regular BMW 4 Series, the new M4, internally referred to as the G82, features that large twin-kidney grille. However, the M4's grille has large air intakes enabling optimized engine cooling. These two-section apertures, composed of brake air ducts on the inside and air supply for the coolant radiators on the outside, are covered with a honeycomb mesh. Full-LED headlights with a slim design are standard and buyers can opt for Adaptive LEDs with BMW Laserlight. The rear-end boasts L-shaped LED taillights and a pair of twin exhaust tips.
BMW has also added M-specific wheel arches that allow for a wider track and larger wheels. The new side sills have been extended in order to help increase downforce and optimize the overall aerodynamics. A carbon-fiber roof is standard while an M Carbon exterior pack adds front air intake inlays, rear diffuser, and side mirrors all made from that lightweight material.
A set of 18/19-inch front/rear forged M light-alloy wheels come standard while the more powerful M4 Competition has 19/20-inch wheels front/rear. Compared to the outgoing M4, the new model is 4.6-inches longer, 0.7-inches wider, and 0.4-inches higher. The wheelbase has also grown by 1.8 inches.
Step inside and you'll immediately realize BMW has raised the bar. Like the new M3, the M4 comes standard with BMW's Live Cockpit Professional infotainment system with a 12.3-inch driver's display and a 12.25-inch high-resolution touchscreen display. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard while a head-up display is optional.
The latest version of iDrive, now at 7.0, is included, as is touch control. Drivers can use both to activate various engine and damper settings. The M-specific steering wheel is wrapped in leather with carbon shift paddles.
The standard aluminum trim looks perfectly suited for the M4's overall attitude, but those who prefer something else can opt for carbon fiber or piano black trim. All-new sports seats covered in Merino leather look extremely comfortable and supportive thanks to additional side bolstering, and integrated head restraints. There's even an illuminated 'M4' badge.
Enthusiast drivers may prefer the optional and also new M Carbon bucket seats which weigh 21 pounds less than the standard seats. The M4's two rear seats, though tight for adults, were also designed to maximize comfort.
Under the hood lies an updated S58 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six with 473 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. Those who seek even more power can opt for the Competition model which has 503 hp and 479 lb-ft. Two transmissions are offered: a six-speed manual and an eight-speed M Steptronic automatic. Aside from the joy of rowing one's own gears, manual-equipped M4s weigh 50 pounds less and have improved weight distribution.
For now, the 2021 M4 is rear-wheel-drive only, but that will change next summer when the M xDrive version for the M4 Competition arrives. In BMW-speak, xDrive means all-wheel drive, though this system will have a rear-drive bias. It's also capable of distributing torque electronically between the front and rear wheels. What's also cool is that drivers can choose from either 2WD, 4WD, or 4WD Sport modes. However, in 2WD mode, the Dynamic Stability Control System is turned off.
BMW says the new M4 will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. Opting for the M Driver's Package increase that to 180 mph. The M4 Competition, however, will make the 0 to 60 sprint in 3.8 seconds.
The 2021 BMW M4 Coupe will carry a starting price tag of $71,800 plus an $800 destination fee when it goes on sale next March. The M4 xDrive, as previously noted, will go on sale next summer though pricing has yet to be announced. The outgoing M4, to compare, began at just under $70,000, so the price increase is actually quite small while overall power and performance are nicely improved. To us, that's good value.
Like the M3 sedan, the M4 aims for and probably will earn the segment benchmark status. its chief rivals continue to include the Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe, Audi RS 5 Coupe, and the Lexus RC F. The latter, however, is very dated compared to the M4, though it does have an absolutely wonderful naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8, making it sort of the hot rod of the bunch. But the M4, of course, is the newest vehicle here and competing brands are already beginning to sweat.