It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We’ve seen this truth play out across all facets of life — Shrek and Princess Fiona taught us that in the movies, as did every Adam Sandler movie where Sandler’s character ends up with someone a thousand times more attractive than he was. Of course, that is all fantasy, but then again, Scarlet Johansson got engaged to Colin Jost. But even aside from celebrities, there was an entire period in history when people thought that wood paneling, wall paper, and shag carpeting was attractive. Which oddly enough, brings us to the brand new 2021 BMW M4 … stay with us.
From the onset, we have to be honest and say that the newest M4 is not terribly attractive. The front end redesign sports a double kidney grille that may be good for airflow, but it does not flow to the eye. All of the air ducts on the front end look like disparate parts and afterthoughts. That combined with the less than exhilarating profile that the 4-Series has had since it’s inception in 2014, and especially with the newest color called Sao Paulo Yellow, makes for a rather ugly high-performance sports car.
But … the more we explore the M4, the more our opinion begins to soften. Starting with the new S58 engine which is a 3.0-liter inline-six that sports a forged crank, low-friction cylinder liners, better cooling, lighter cylinder head and of course, two mono-scroll turbochargers that, in Competition form, make a frightening 503-horsepower and equally impressive 479 lb-ft of torque. That power is mitigated slightly by the not insubstantial 3,850 pound curb weight, but still allows the M4 to rocket from 0-60 mph in just 3.7 seconds.
What we did find insanely attractive about the M4 is that you can get one with a true six-speed manual transmission — shifter and all. That shifter is of the short-throw variety and the gears are close-ratio to keep things in the power band more easily. The rev-matching Gear Shift Assistant is defeatable, but a true Godsend for those owners that think they might be better drivers than they really are. Optional is the quicker shifting, but also heavier (and less engaging) paddle-shifted ZF 8-speed M Steptronic auto transmission.
Also new for the M4 is going to be M xDrive that will be available next Summer. Though it will still be rear-wheel biased, and even more so in Sport mode, the M xDrive is a way to narrow the gap between Bimmer and the advantage Audi has using their all-wheel drive on their supersports cars.
Suspension upgrades include new lower links that widen the front track by 1.5-inches, while the shock towers are not only braced to one another, but also to the fire wall and the front of the car. There are several other braces under the car as well. Massive M-specific brakes measure 15.0-inches up front and 14.6-inches out back that get clamped down on by six-piston calipers in front and single-piston at the rear. Optional 15.7-inch carbon-ceramic brakes are the racers choice for track day despite their added cost.
There are two main packages owner’s can choose from. The M Driver’s Package is the more traditional M option set — this allows the speed limiter to be bumped up from 155 to 180 mph, while the M Drive Professional Package tacks on a 10-mode traction control and adds a Track mode that switches off everything not directly related to helping you go faster. There is also a new M Drift Analyzer and M Laptimer that both keep tabs on your chosen autosport track.
For 2021 the M4 commands a $2,650 bump in price, with a base of $72,795, while the Competition model only jumps up $900 with a base of $75,795. Some might see that as a lot of money, while some might see the M4 as a screaming value. Price, much like beauty, is also in the eye of the beholder. So while we aren’t huge fans of the lime green (technically yellow) and curious kidney grille, the massive power, mind-altering performance and the ability to shift manually, suddenly makes the new M4 a lot more attractive than we thought, though we’re still going to go with the classic Alpine White.