2024 BMW M4 Competition Convertible | PH assessment

Strange car, the BMW M3 (and later also the M4) Cabriolet. It’s the version that purists like us love to hate, yet the only one that has survived all six generations of the M Division 3 series with the two-door coupe. Even the four-door sedan was removed for a while – not the drop-top. So people must like them. And for all BMW’s endless motorsports, there have been roofless M3s since the ’80s. Granted, there weren’t many of them back then, but they still existed. So internally they must also like the idea. Nothing is now as sacred as the E30’s reputation as the M homologation hero, but a money-making opportunity was discovered at the time – and the taxi has stayed with us ever since.

It’s easy to see why the Convertible has earned its reputation. The last thing the wonderfully rev- and torque-light engines needed was a load of soft top (including a hardtop for the V8!) to lug around. The F82 was a commendably light M4 weighing around 1,500 kg – the F83 then added a quarter of a ton. The whole point of the M3/4 often seemed to conflict with the raison d’être of a convertible, misleading enthusiasts. But now that the M3/4 pair is fancier (and heavier) than ever before – yet also inherently stiffer – the intentions of an M car and a 2+2 sun visor are arguably more closely aligned than ever before.

Certainly, the latest facelift lends some credence to that logic. The M4 convertible was always xDrive only, which has now been carried over to the coupe, but now the interior has been updated for ‘exclusive sports car flair’, the options list seems even longer and you can have pink paint. It does not exude old-fashioned appeal. But as part of the M4 CS launch programme, it’s a chance to drive the M4 Competition in the updated 530bhp format. Whatever the body style, it would be rude not to.

The new look inside and out certainly adds to the super-GT vibe of this generation. The CSL-style laser lights are very smart and the front headlights are more contemporary too. The grille is still the grille, yes. But beyond needing the space, it’s hard to see how the jump to an M8 could be justified from here – the M4 looks and feels very expensive indeed. The interior has done away with some buttons, and there may be some initial fiddling around doing that that wasn’t necessary before, but the benefit is a much less cluttered and sleeker look – helped by the combined screens. It has to be one of the more successful transitions away from buttons. Material and display quality are all very good. Maybe it’s not very M, although it does provide just the right look for a £100,000 convertible.

On the road (albeit extremely smooth German one) this M4 does very well to be, well, damn near as good as any other. Although the power gain is modest and the torque advantage insignificant (same amount, slightly wider availability), the Convertible feels quite punchy in any gear and at any rpm. With the xDrive and automatic standard, it fits very well with the idea that this is a drop-top for all seasons and for all occasions. It will reward effort and rev eagerly, but is also very good at being fast and fuss-free. Just walking around with the top open, you’d be hard-pressed to spot much of a difference between this and a Coupe.

The roof down and the charm offensive continues (sorry), the structure free of almost all vibration, the sound system strong and wind intrusion limited, even without a deflector in place. In Comfort mode for the suspension (or perhaps Sport; even Germany can’t handle Sport Plus), the M4 Convertible can be docile and pleasant. It doesn’t feel like the fact that it’s a modern M car on the one hand, or a convertible on the other, are in conflict, making the union much more harmonious than could ever have been the case when they were previously forced together.

The impression continues even when you drive a little faster, with the same characteristics – tenacious turn-in, impeccable composure, uncannily good xDrive – all clearly evident. Whether that all translates into a narrower and bumpier Britain remains to be seen, but the signs are good. There hasn’t been a bad version of this M3 and M4 yet, and while the Convertible may still find no fans with a power boost and interior refresh, there’s little reason to think this will change that opinion.

Or at least not on the highway. Most of our test route was confined to the autobahn, where the interior quality, overall refinement and ruthless poise confirmed that this is an open-top car built to travel great distances at high speed. Sure, above 100mph it gets a bit stormy, but not nearly as much as you might expect; roof up everyone just assumes it’s another M3 and cleverly moves to the side (the grille has to be good for something). All the way up to an indicated speed of 170mph (it makes sense to specify the speed limit increase in Germany) the M4 was as solid as a rock. And undeniably wonderful. That’s not typically a word associated with this body style, but it’s just that capable. Any M4 customer considering a ‘bahnstorming break’ abroad this summer will be very impressed.

Perhaps due to slightly lower expectations (although undeserved), that is the decisive verdict of the entire car. The M4 Convertible is very impressive. It doesn’t quite drive with the directness and grit of a standard coupe, but it’s not far off, and it can commercially offer the immense satisfaction of top-down driving. If this is your thing, the M4 appears to offer fewer compromises than ever before when it comes to top-down thrills. With very few options on the market – the F-Type is gone, as is the V8 Lexus LC – it doesn’t feel like a bad time for the M4 to be more attractive than ever. Even if you’re still not supposed to like it.

SPECIFICATION | BMW M4 COMPETITION CONVERTIBLE XDRIVE (G83)

Engine: 2,993cc six-cylinder twin-turbo engine
Transfer: 8-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 530 at 6,250 rpm
Torque (lb⋅ft): 479 at 2,750-5,730 rpm
0-100 km/h: 3.7 sec
Top speed: 255 km/h
Weight: 1,920 kg DIN, 1,995 kg EU
MPG: 27.4
CO2: 232 g/km
Price: £91,500

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