KAISER OF HIGH PERFORMANCE COUPES : Deep in the hills of Bavaria is where Teutonic motorheads honed performance for public roads inextricably linked to storied race heritages. Nearly four decades ago top engineers sought [an FIA] sanctioned class, [Group A] where they could showcase skunk work tuned versions of their performance road cars. As a reward upper management would fund production of a fixed number of road going versions the touring car. The most prolific homologated special to come out of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft was the 1986 E30 BMW M3 coupe.
Over the next 34 years the distinct red white & blue colored Motorsport performance badge appeared on 5 generations of 3-Series executive sport coupes and sedans, with the coupe being re-designated M4. Theretofore heretical technologies such as automated clutch transmissions, adaptive suspensions, turbo-charging and electric steering assist were introduced. Characteristics of inert steering feel and excessive road isolation crept in. Even greater sacrilege was the development of Motorsport version Sport Activity Vehicles.
EMBLEM MEANING RESTORED : Dedicated enthusiasts had begun to question whether the M-Division had strayed sufficiently far from the mission. Engineering budgets were being re-appropriated to zero tailpipe emissions electrification. With the 50th anniversary of the their Motorsport Division approaching the issue was whether BMW would rise to these challenges. In a roundabout way of returning to the enthusiast core mission a re-designed 2022 BMW M4 Competition is not only equipped exclusively with an automatic transmission but has also adopted all-wheel drive.
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WHAT: 2022 BMW M4 Competition xDrive high performance luxury sport coupe. The G82 M4 Coupe, successor to the F35 BMW M4 Coupe, along with sibling M4 convertible, G80 M3 sedan and G81 estate wagon, sit on the modular CLAR platform. All join other variants of the 7th generation 3-Series sedan known as G20. The modular steel, aluminum and carbon fiber intensive platform, with 48 V electrical system, can host hybrid and pure electric powertrains.
Standard M Power: S58B30T0 variant of the B58 engine family. Longitudinal dual liquid-to-air intercooled twin-scroll turbocharged, 3.0L DOHC 32V DI gas inline-6 cylinders, start/ stop + [F90 BMW M8] upgraded 8-spd. ZF M8HP76 design torque converter planetary transmission w/ shift paddles + viscous clutch differential all-wheel drive + rear E-LSD.
- = 503 hp/ 479 lb-ft @ 2750 rpm, 7300 rpm redline
- = +32 hp, +74 lb-ft vs. non-Competition M4
- = +59 hp / +36 lb-ft vs. Audi RS5, -62 hp / +12 lb-ft vs. Nissan GT-R
- supplemental radiator chills turbocharger exhaust wastegate air
- separate turbocharger oil pan extension with cross-flow anti-starvation sump
- dual exhaust w/ Active Sound muffler flap control
- Two dedicated steering wheel mounted customizable “M” Driving Mode switches
- Launch control, and M Drift Mode w/ 100% torque lock to rear axle
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: The wider stance of the G82 BMW M4 Competition allowed designer Anne Forschner to ameliorate the subjectively egregious double sized, full length “dual kidney” grille assigned by default to all current 4- Series coupes, whether 2 or 4 apertured. A 5.0″-inch lengthening from its F82 M4 Mk.1 predecessor, to within 2.0″ inches E60 5- Series sedan, compensates for the facial gigantism. Fenders and rear quarters approaching IMSA flaring, a more raked backlight impart muscle to tastefully crease-free coke-bottle smooth fuselage. Even so, the less maudlin maw of the G80 M3 sedan remains an alternative.
• OUT FRONT: Swept-back and scooped: Triple tandem valley hood; Swept back headlamps with lateral dual “Laser LED” lens array + white LED DRL undescoring, amber corner directionals; Dark lattice arching and full nose length twin kidney grille; Larger lower airdam dark honeycomb slatted air intakes flaking grille; Outward “L” folded corners lead to brake cooling ducts;
• AT THE SIDES: Mid fender heat extractors sport a darkened dual lateral finned “M4 Competition” emblem; Gloss black wing mirrors w/ tandem arms & integrated amber directionals; Tandem lateral body cheat-line body crease and door bottom straddling rocker panel divergent crease; Wide B to C pillar Row 2 window w/ Hofmeister kink; Softly sloped triple tandem valley woven carbon fiber roof; Sweeping long backlight decline; Frameless door windows evoke a lightness.
• AROUND BACK: √ Barest duck bill trunk lid + contrasting gloss black lip spoiler with center valley = subtlely sporting; √ Outward flared wrap around hockey stick layered LED light bars cinch the flared mid tail; √ Tiered trunk lid with wide center license plate bowl; Inverted “L” scooped out rear bumper cover and lower fascia corners; Folded lower rear fascia corners with fang style reflectors; Prominent contrasting gloss black diffuser style lower rear valance; Smoked finish twin beveled round outlet dual exhaust outlets.
WHY: Motorsport Ultimate Driving Machine by Factor of Four debuts delivering immense power Four by Four.
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since Autumn 2021
WHERE: BMW new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Dingolfing, Bavaria, Germany
WHERE TO: BMW’s 2022 M4 Competition gets the upgrade to some of the stickiest three season street rubber also adept at hot laps. Despite sophisticated torque vectoring all wheel drive but with nary a winter drive program, swapping out the Michelin Sport Cup 4 S for set of dedicated Alpin winters would be the only way to tread with some confidence in crystallized road precip.
HOW ROADWORTHY: The short stroke of the S58B series twin turbo straight six powerplant makes it a more rev happy successor to the F82‘s S55. Dual lower corner intake snorkels suck gobs of air swallowed by six large intake throttle bodies. A supplemental radiator chills the exhaust consumed by each of the single scroll Mitsubishi MHI TD turbochargers per three cylinders, for optimum density, sufficient to yield 25 psi of nominal boost pressure.
• THE POWER: A glowing ignition button starts this thoroughbred’s heartbeat. For aural pleasure it is suggested to tap the console active exhaust control bringing forth legit rumble. Tugging the left oversized woven carbon fiber dorsal steering wheel shift paddle, then stepping into aluminum throttle pedal launches the Live Pro Cockpit virtual tach needle past 4000 rpm, confirming enhanced M Power under the hood. Sharing the M8’s ZF 8HP50 eight-speed gear swaps snap off with potent alacrity minus wanton violence. Rear wheel biased viscous coupled all-wheel drive is most assuredly meant to excise rear tire slippage on a hard launch. As a forewarning Track Mode should be dubbed “Lose Your Lunch Mode.” Dual customizable “M-Mode” switches on the steering wheel can modulate the xDrive power flow. Drift Mode from the BMW App suite warns that it will revert to rear drive exclusively, nix traction & stability control and dial back the electronic limited slip rear differential for the fun of it.
-1 While artful, the tunnel lever center console toggle transmission selector obfuscates intuitive movement.
• Two steering wheel mounted red “M Mode” switches = access center console stored, I-drive selected customized sport / track settings, including available, rear wheel drive lock mode for drifting (the latter disengaging stability control).
• Center console drive control switches include: M Mode, Settings, variable exhaust.
• Horsepower torque sport instrument cluster MFD & media screen displays
• “M” Lap Timer App in Media Display
• “M” Drift Mode analyzer application
• THE CONTROL: Tipping the Toledo scales at Two Tons, the CLAR underpinnings help the 2022 M4 Competition respond with more immediacy than its F35 precursor. Variable damping transforms the front strut, rear five link steel sprung wheel control from grand touring compliant to un-budging stable. Staggered Michelin Pilot Sport 4S’s are custom designed for the M4 Competition for maximum lateral stomach swaying. They transmit road grip to the thick rimmed steering wheel possessed of beefy weighting, with suggestive input immediate responsiveness. The tested M4 Competition lacked the available carbon ceramic brake rotors, which typically need to warm to clamp well. However, applying the pedal to the amply cooled large twin piece steel units, met with anchor tugs and nary any fade worth mentioning.
HOW FAR: 21 combined miles per gallon fuel economy; 520 highway miles range
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: With a 5.0″-inch lengthening from its F82 M4 Mk.1 predecessor, this high performance compact sport coupe bumps up against the footprint of an E60 5- Series sedan. √ Effectively a 2+2 compact coupe
-1: Commensurate rear occupant head shaving with sloping roof. 2nd Row knees brush front bucket seats deep hard backs. Lacks seat belt shoulder assist from B-pillar.
– For Comparison’s Sake:
• +1.8″ inch wheelbase, + 4.8″ length vs. F82 BMW M4 Mk.1
- 112.5″-inch Wheelbase: 3.6″ > Audi RS5, 6.0″ > Nissan GT-R
- 2nd Row legroom: 0.4″ < Audi RS5, N/A < Nissan GT-R
HOW USEFUL: √ Proper tall and deep trunk; √ Dense pile trunk lining √ Power trunk lid; √ Full pass through 40/20/40% split folding 2nd Row seat backs + dual cargo bay cable releases; √ Mouse-fur lined, damped action glove box.
- -1 Trails the sportback competitions in cargo space; Obtrusively thick trunk lid swing arms, No overhead console retracting sunglass bin, Center console front wireless device charging bin choked by dual cupholders.
For Comparison’s Sake:
Nominal cargo capacity: -48% vs. Audi RS5, -38% vs. Nissan GT-R
HOW SAFE: √ 10 airbags; √ IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (G30 5-series tested); √ Surround view cameras; sonar front & rear Park Distance Control; √ Blind spot, rear cross traffic & lane departure warning; √ Auto parking brake hold; √ Auto high beam Laser semiconductor diode headlamps; √ Heads-Up display w/ sport mode;
+1 Parking Assist Plus (opt.) executes precise active parallel & perpendicular parking maneuvers, estimating door swing in surround camera.
-1 Forward collision & pedestrian avoidance braking; full adaptive cruise control, lane keep centering, lane change assist optional ($1700) in a $95,000 luxury car.
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: There used to be a [largely true] rumor that 3- Series (sedan analog to the 4- Series), situated as BMW’s young business school’s graduate premium driving fare, previously exhibited rather stark if straightforward cabin appointments. The G82 4- Series interior has made strides in interior furnishings. The 2022 M4 Competition boasts woven carbon fiber, aluminum & tucked seam soft panels on the fixed 2nd Row window ledge as part of the bespoke trimmings complement. A simplified 7th generation IDrive excises anticipated anxiety over a myriad of infotainment settings which can be rationalized. Display graphics are tantalizing without loudness, though greater brightness would help. Switchgear in door panels and steering wheel spokes are precision honed. Tight pile carpeting the kind found in homes contributes to better cabin noise isolation.
√ Heated & cooled 16-way power front sport bucket seats, w/ drive lumbar adjust, drive mode torso & thigh wing constriction, manual knee extenders, 2-setting driver’s memory; √ 4 power windows, full express; √ 3-Zone auto climate control w/ 2nd Row controls; √ Power folding wing mirrors; √ Power soft door close; √ Comfort approach access keyless entry; √ Puddle lamps.
- +1 Heated steering leather wrapped carbon fiber insert wheel; 2nd Row climate control; Heated rear seats.
Cool Gizmo(s): ♦ 12.3“-inch LCD Live Cockpit Pro w/ configurable full color raceway gauges and M Sport display; ♦ Gesture proximity media display control – clockwise finger rotation mimics turning the volume dial, pointed lateral hand thumb advances or retreats track / station; ♦ Heads up display w/ navigation map and sport mode;
• Special Mention Doodad(s): ♦ Caring Car™ with both Relax (Orange sunset) and Vitalize (Green pasture) modes, provides 2:46 of mood music, varying climate settings, display image and varying intensity mood lighting.
Details Done Right: ♦ Brushed stainless steel inlays, switchgear, speaker covers; ♦ Carbon fiber center console panels; ♦ Full exposed soft material surfaces; ♦ Contrast paneled cross stitched, Nappa leather seating & upper door panels; ♦ Contrasting seam stitched dark leather dash-top; ♦ Sueded covered pillars, rear deck, headliner; ♦ Variable color full dashboard, consoles, door panel ambient & footwell LEDs; ♦ Dense pile cabin, transmission tunnel & cargo area carpeting
• Stand Out Detail(s): ♦ “M4” illuminated upper front seat emblems; ♦ Power front rising headrests raise seat back hard shells; ♦ “M” embroidered shoulder safety belts; ♦ Rear deck speaker housing integrates LATCH system.
Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Small sized climate buttons, cluttered center console switches.
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: √ 12.3″ iDrive 7 touch, remote & voice controlled LCD infotainment screen; √ iDrive 7 center console rotary controller, finger script touch pad & primary function buttons; √ Rotary audio volume dial, tuning & preset switches; √ Bluetooth, hands-free communications; √ Voice-to-text SMS messaging; √ Voice command/ guidance 3-D HDD GPS navigation; √ HD weather, traffic; √ Apple CarPlay; √ BMW Connected Apps using virtual cloud for appointments; √ USB x 4, 12V x 3; √ Qi Wireless charging tray.
Audibly: √ 16 speaker, 464 Watts, 5 channel Harman Kardon Logic 7 DTS RDS HD radio audio = tonally neutral, deep in presence, free of colorization.
By Subscription: √ SiriusXM (90 days incl.); BMW Connected Services √ 4G LTE by AT&T;
HOW MUCH: $95,845 = as tested 2022 BMW M4 Competition xDrive suggested retail price (includes $4500 Santorini Blue BMW Individual color and one day track instruction at BMW Performance Center).
WHAT’S MISSING: Cabin B-Pillar mounted front seat power seat belt arm.
ANY COMPETITION: Audi RS5: +1 Google Earth virtual cockpit, cargo space; Nissan GT-R: +1 engine roar
FINAL WORD: Maestros at the M-Division continue to perfect the art of obscene performing, goosebump inducing ICE high performance sport coupes.
Contributing Editor: D. Kaliouros