If an automotive enthusiast is asked to think of one alphabet that denotes performance like no other, we are sure that most of them (who are able to answer) will say M. Why? Because… BMW M. BMW has had quiet an illustrious history in motorsport. And it did not take long for that prowess to trickle down to their road-going cars. BMW M3 and especially the E46 generation is something that no one can forget. And the E46 M3 CSL (Coupe Sport Leichtbau or Coupe Sport Lightweight) was a car that blew everyone away. Even the radio and air-conditioning were optional in that car! And that is why it once held the record for one of the fastest lap-times on the legendary Nürburgring!
After generations of evolution (dilution for some), the M3 is now only available as a Sedan. So what about the coupé? That’s what we are here for. The coupé and the convertible body styles are now under the M4 badging. The distinctions have changed, the titles have changed but what about the intent and the purpose? Gladly, that part is still unchanged! On the xBhp PowerTour 2019, in Dubai, we encountered a successor to the legendary M3 line of cars and courtesy of BMW AGMC: the BMW M4 Coupé. Stripped down, aero-ed up, and ready to kick some…
Remember what we said about the intent and the purpose? Well, the looks alone are enough to impart the information regarding that. The athletic lines and the slightly sloping roof-line of the coupé body come together to give the car that unmistakable M shape. The front diffuser with those massive intakes compliments the kidney-grille which, by the way, is home to an M4 insignia… maybe for the ones who are slow to catch up. The long-ish hood houses more design lines, an aerodynamic scoop and the oh-so-familiar propeller, the BMW Insignia. The wheel arches flow with the design lines on the side of the body that gel with the sloping roofline. The rear diffuser has outlets for air but the most striking thing at the back is the quad-pipe exhaust. You can almost hear the angry raspy growl of the engine when you decide to give it the beans! And finally, the carbon-fibre roof, reminiscent of the E46…
Inside the car, things are not as extreme as the CSL and surprisingly enough, the M4 is rather opulent and loaded with modern amenities. The use of leather with bold stitches on the dash makes it feel like it is a luxury car (which it is but err… not primarily). There are splatters of the sixth element on the dash around the infotainment screen and the exquisite analogue dash (speedo, rev counter, fuel gauge and temperature gauge are all analogue!). It is rather amazing to witness the presence of something old-school, and elemental to performance on a car which boasts of a heads-up display!
BMW M4s come with BMW’s proprietary iDrive infotainment system in addition to a Harman/Kardon audio system. Driver assists include automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic high-beam headlamps, and a 360-degree exterior camera system With all this, if it wasn’t for the BMW Motorsport (the famed M) insignia, a poor unsuspecting lad might just floor the pedal and kick their soul out of a certain crevice in their body.
Talking about pushing souls out of crevices, as soon as we entered the car, we could not wait to fire up the engine. A sweet 3L M TwinPower Turbo inline-6 that pumps out 450 bhp and 550 Nm of torque (with the Competition package)! Those are thunderous numbers for a car that weighs 1,670 kg in ready to go state. Fire up the engine and let the sweet rumble of the M4 cloud the opulence served up by the car’s interiors. Exhaust notes make a vehicle endearing to the driver/rider and it is a relationship sacrosanct. We do not know if we’ll be able to continue this relationship a few years down the line when the EVs rule the roost but with BMWs, we are sure that we’ll at least be reminded of the relationship because of the artificial sound in the i8, which is as close to the real thing as it can get.
Fortunately, the M4 has the real thing and it gets even better as the sound is amplified in the cabin and yet, the outside noise is brilliantly damped. Just blip the throttle and you’ll know that you are in for a ride. The sporty seats and the seating posture ask you to put your game face on, strap in and get ready and… deal with city traffic. It just sucks to have to drive a car like this in a place where it cannot stretch its legs. And god forbid if you find less than perfect asphalt… But then, this car is meant to push the envelope of performance and not give you a comfy ride on roads left to the mercy of God.
If you ever find yourself in the same predicament, get out of the confines of the concrete jungle and find yourself a good open stretch of road. Come to a gentle halt, ready your mind and body for the ridiculous acceleration and let the pedal meet the metal. This car accelerates mind-bogglingly quick and you are left wondering if it is the same car that has a gigantic infotainment system and Harman/Kardon audio. 0-100 km/h is dispatched in 4.1s if you have the Competition package. And even if you don’t, it’ll still finish the deed in 4.3s! Top speed is well over 250 km/h which is almost preposterous because this car has usable rear seats and generous boot space for crying out loud!
Thrashing it around is such a thrill aurally, visually and in every other sense that gives you a perception of speed. It is addictive. The dart-like steering helps you place the car wherever you want… Okay, the assists, a plethora of them, help too. And despite the gizmos, despite the gadgets, and despite the elec-trickery, it is such an involving and engaging car to drive. It makes you long for an outing on a racetrack more than anything else. And then when someone tells you that this car has brake-energy regeneration, it makes you dizzy!
While many people say that they miss the rawness of the M3s of the old, the M4 is what we got to drive and it is the only way we have lived the legend that was known as M3. And on paper at least, this one tops the E46 M3 as it has an option of a 6-speed manual gearbox! The sheer possibilities that can be explored with that and a rear-wheel drive… But we shall refrain from doing that but maybe someday…
Another extension to this story was a BMW too but sans two wheels. The folks at BMW AGMC were aware of our motorcycling background and they threw in a BMW S1000RR with the BMW M4 and we cannot thank them enough for that. What can we say about the BMW S1000RR that has not been said before? The motorcycle blew through the doors of the competition when it arrived and set a benchmark for other manufacturers at a time when the litre-class segment looked like it had peaked and could not grow further.
The first-gen S1000RR made almost 190 bhp of power, more than any other manufacturer at that time and boy what a motorcycle it was. Introduction of sophisticated electronics ushered the superbike world into a new era. It was a stalwart. And since then, it has received a couple of revisions. While other manufacturers were able to somewhat catch up to the Bavarian mad-ass, it still remains as one of the best litre-class motorcycles that one can get their hands on.
The 999cc, water-cooled inline-4 that propels the S1000RR makes 199 bhp of power and 113 Nm of torque. Serious power for a motorcycle that weighs 208 kg (wet). If you decide to test its mettle and really wring it, it will take you from 0-100 km/h in less than 3s and 200 km/h in less than 7s! That is ridiculously fast. And if you have the fortitude despite the blurring scenery, keep going and it will take you over 300 km/h! Sadly, the gentleman’s agreement will only let you see 299 km/h on the speedo. One shy of the magic mark! The braking and handling departments are also pretty sorted so all you need to do is tape the lights and blinkers, slap on some slicks and let it show you what Bavaria had in mind when this motorcycle was designed.
Both of these vehicles are mighty fine examples of automotive tech and engineering in their respective domains. While the M4 is the subtly-ferocious track tool moulded into a road-legal car, the S1000RR’s asymmetric headlights are stark reminders of its track prowess. We are very thankful to BMW AGMC for letting us have our way with these mean-machines!