I had almost forgotten how much I enjoyed owning and driving a 2009 BMW 335i not too long ago. All those good memories came flooding back as soon as I came across this 2016 BMW M4. BMWs are so unmistakably BMW that I couldn’t help but compare this brand new M4 to my 2009 335i that I used to own.
BMWs have always had their signature styling cues. Aside from the iconic BMW kidney grilles, you know when you’re in one because the interior hasn’t changed all that much from what it was in the 2009 335i. Things are certainly more refined, but it’s apparent that BMW went with the philosophy of “Ah it’s perfect, no need to change much of anything!”
Just like what you might see with any BMW M-car, they don’t let you forget that this is, in fact, an M4. You’ll encounter lots and lots of Ms. I gave up counting after I came across the 114th M.
The 2016 BMW M4 comes with numerous options and packages and although this one didn’t have many, it did have things like: 19” Wheel 437 M Mixed Tires, Fineline Anthracite Wood Trim and Advanced RTTI. I sure could use RTTI in my car, because “Really Terrific Tire Inflation” sounds like an important feature to have.
This car belongs to a true enthusiast and avid track-goer, Trent, who recently went from a 991 911 to this. He was looking for something a bit more livable as a daily driver like the M4, which he could also take to the track. And although the M4 is more comfortable, Trent mentioned that the 911 was a more engaging and thrilling experience at the track, requiring more effort from the driver, whereas the M4 is comparatively duller and almost too easy to drive.
Trent has been doing this for so long that the thrill of driving at a mere 155 mph and taking turns at over 100 mph have lost their luster. I guess it’s just like anything else. Nachos, loaded with jalapenos, can taste great if you haven’t had them for a while, but eat them every day, and you might want to throw up.
But for someone like me–I’m not a big fan of nachos. I like quesadillas better. An M4 would be the ideal track car for me since I probably go as often as I visit Antarctica.
So the next time I go to a track day, which may very well never happen, I would hope that the M4 takes good care of me as I drive down a straightaway at 140 mph. Until, of course, I become so overconfident after a few laps, that I decide to turn off the computers and then go barreling into a wall.
Things on the inside
The 2016 BMW M4 has a traditional BMW interior–high quality, yet simple. You can tweak all kinds of settings on the car from steering sensitivity, throttle sensitivity, ride comfort to how aggressively the transmission shifts. It is all very easily done and intuitive. Of course, the only setting I ever need in a car is the “fastest and sportiest possible setting” and if BMW provided me with just one button to do that in the M4, I’d be pretty happy.
The I-Drive media center largely works the same way it did in the 335i. The display looks nicer and the graphics are better with higher resolution but I did like that in the 335i, the display was housed in the dome and blended in with the dash. In the M4, the display screen awkwardly sticks up and looks like it should go down into the dash. But it doesn’t.
The Torquey DCT transmission
I’ve become a fan of paddle-shifting ever since I bought my IS-F. The shifts in the IS-F are so quick, that flipping through all eight gears is way more fun than I thought it would be. In a car that you drive every day, rain or shine, having a shiftable automatic is convenient. If I’m shoving salty french fries into my face, I’d want an automatic. If I’m browsing through Spotify to find the perfect tune, I’d want an automatic. Or if I’m in stop-and-go traffic, which is almost all the time these days in Austin, having an automatic allows you to forget about shifting and get lost in the latest TED talk podcast about happiness.
But it’s hard to be happy when you encounter an SUV that cuts you off and starts driving at least 20 miles slower than you are. At this point, you can feel the unstoppable rage building up inside you and the only way you can quell this raging fury is to downshift with a quick tap, floor it and then pass the 80 year old driver in the SUV while flipping him off. How dare that old man cut you off?
The DCT in the M4 shifts so quickly and smoothly that gear changes are almost imperceptible. The extra torque does wonders in terms of enhancing the daily driving experiencing and that’s what I enjoyed about my 335i over the E92 M3. Whereas you had to squeeze power out of the E92 by revving high, there is lots of low-end turbo torque to take advantage of in the M4, same as the 335i.
Who doesn’t love a nice, solid-sounding thunk?
The doors and trunk close with such gravitas and an aura of superiority that I had to close the doors over and over. The solid sound of the door closing shut reverberated throughout the parking garage where I was carefully carrying out my scientific thunk-tests. The owner, Trent, had this stupefied look on his face wondering what I was doing to his car.
The trunk in the M4 opened automatically. Laying down on the ground and waving my arms did the trick which I demonstrate in the video.
What about the crappy exhaust?
I thought it sounded so horrible when first starting up the car. It was loud and dissonant, and while sitting as a passenger in the car, I wasn’t happy. What the hell was this? Not only did it not sound great, it was artificially enhanced through speakers.
But as I spent more time in the car and particularly when I started driving, the sound grew on me. It had a decent growl when accelerating and maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing that there was some sound augmentation going on inside the car. I did hear some moments of greatness with the exhaust sound outside of the car that I captured on video.
I’m just glad that BMW got some kind of sound out of the engine in the M4 because in the 3.0L turbocharged 335i, there was no sound at all. I’ll take whatever noise I can get.
The M4 is the ideal track car and daily driver
After being in a very stiff, back breaking IS-F, the comfort of the M4 was a welcome relief. Even the stiffest Sport + suspension setting felt fine to me. Some might say that the M4 is a bit too refined or a bit too isolating and boring, but I think it’s perfect. It’s practical too. Can’t find a babysitter? No problem. Put your two year old in a carseat in the back and hit your local racetrack to do some laps.
BMW has built a car here that is the rare combination of mastery at the track as well as amazing daily drivability. But is it really worth 4 times as much as a used 2009 335i? Depends on how much money you have!
The new M4 is outstanding. No question. But if you can’t afford one, you won’t be missing out on a whole lot by going with a modified used 335i that can be obtained for much cheaper. It’s not an M-car, but drive it for now to satisfy your BMW cravings and enjoy an amazing car. Then buy a used M4 eight years from now when it will only cost you $30K. Or better yet, buy a used 640 hp ZL1 for the same price!
Torque Affair is about exploring my fascination with cars. I’m always on the lookout for things that interest me in the car world.
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