The Bavarian brand has all but promised to keep the manual transmission alive as long as it keeps making cars that can use them, which should be for the next decade or so. Dit, despite the fact that today’s automatics are far superior in terms of performance and efficiency.
Fun is another matter.
BMW’s latest slogan is Sheer Driving Pleasure, and that explains why the M4, its signature sports car, comes with a six-speed stick, which many of its competitors don’t offer at all.
Die $ 73,100 coupe is powered by a 473 hp 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six-cylinder that sends its power to the rear wheels. An upgrade to a 503 hp version of the engine is available by opting for the M4 Competition, but you can only get it with an 8-speed automatic, which some would not consider a fair trade.
The challenge of operating a manual with perfection remains one of the great joys of motoring, especially in a car like this. The M4 does let you cheat a little bit, egter, with a function that matches revs when you downshift so you don’t have to brake and blip the throttle at the same time for a smooth transition. Gelukkig, this can be deactivated if you want to tackle expert level.
The M4 offers several electronic adjustments, in werklikheid, that include the stiffness of its adaptive suspension, the exhaust volume, throttle action and even the responsiveness of the brake pedal, which you can use to squeeze a set of fade-free carbon ceramic discs that are a track-minded $ 8,150 opsie. However you set things up, a pair of red M buttons on the steering wheel allow you to call up your favorite configuration with a press of your thumb.
The M4 is also equipped with automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and lane departure prevention systems, but that’s the extent of the self-driving tech you can get with the manual transmission, which is more of DIY (Drive-It-Yourself) proposition.
BMW says the M4 can accelerate to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and its smooth, but long-travel clutch makes it easy to apply the power, which comes on with a fervor. The turbos go to work quickly and the neck-snapping power delivery is nearly as instantaneous as what you get from an electric motor.
Shift action is clean and direct, and you’ll never get anywhere near the M4’s cornering limits on a public road without violating all sorts of laws as it seems to defy physical ones with its perfect balance and grip.
Vreemd, the M4 reminded me a lot of the Ford Mustang Mach 1 that I recently tested, and not just because both cars were battleship grey. Both have similar power and poise, although the Mustang does it with an old-fashioned American V8 under the hood and the BMW with much more finesse. This isn’t so much a dig at the M4 as recognition of the fact that it has been one of Ford’s performance targets for the Mustang in recent years.
The Mustang’s interior is no match for the M4’s, which is clad in the high style you’d expect of a car in its price range and has a rear seating area that is actually comfortable for people up to 5’ 10″ of so. Anyone in need of even more room can always opt for the four-door M3 that share’s its platform, while Mustang fans have to make the jump to the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV, which isn’t exactly the same thing.
As for the exterior styling, the M4 is a muscular-looking car with a functional carbon fiber roof to help lower its center of gravity and a dual kidney grille that appears to be large enough to filter impurities out of a Brontosaurus, let alone provide cooling for the engine. One thing’s for certain, you’ll know it’s a BMW from a mile away.
BMW may no longer call itself the Ultimate Driving Machine, but if its ultimate – as in “laaste” – driving machine is anything like the M4, it will be a fine way to ride off into the sunset to the sound of a raucous exhaust.
2021 BMW M4
Base price: $ 73,100
As tested: $ 97,545
Type: 2-deur, 4-passasier, rear-wheel-drive coupe
Engine: 3.0L turbocharged inline-6-cylinder
Krag 473 hp, 406 lb-ft torque
Transmission: 6-speed manual
MPG: 16 city/23 hwy