Tuesday, March 24, 2015

2015 BMW M4 Convertible: Bravado, Style And Performance

Highlights: The M4 is the only convertible in BMW’s M-Series line up. And its the only mass produced hardtop convertible pushing out over 400 horses.

Test vehicle’s MSRP: $88,725 (base model $73,450)

Seating Capacity: 4

Standard Safety Features: airbags; Xenon headlights; an automatic dimming rearview mirror; a tire pressure monitoring system; rain sensing wipers; a stability control system; ABS brakes; and BMW’s SOS assist system

Standard Equipment: 18-inch wheels; a 7-speed transmission; a 6-speed manual transmission; leather seats; the gas saving automatic start/stop function; a fully operational power hard top; a wind deflector; power fronts seats with driver seat memory; a navigation system; heated front seats; an adjustable front center armrest; split folding rear seats; carbon fiber interior trim; automatic headlights; a radar-activated cruise control; iDrive system with touchpad; and a 4-year/50,000 maintenance program

Options On Review Model: an 19-inch wheels; a manual transmission; carbon ceramic brakes; an adaptive suspension system; a Harmon Kardon surround system; special blue exterior color paint; a heated steering wheel; a keyless entry system; a rearview camera; a neck warmer for the heated seats (for use when the top is down); retractable headlight washers; parking distance control alerts; a heads up display system; and satellite radio

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 9-speaker AM/FM/HD/CD stereo

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 mile warranty

Powertrain Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 mile warranty

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 3.0-liter, 6-cylinder turbocharged/425-hp

0 to 60 mph: 4.4 seconds

Recommended Fuel: Premium

Standard Fuel Mileage: 17-city/26-hwy

What’s New:  The larger M-series convertible known as the M4 joined BMW’s line up last summer, replacing the smaller M3 convertible. This high-powered, rear-wheel drive machine packs all of the punch driving enthusiasts seek out in a German made vehicle.

Pros: The aggressively styled M4 convertible is the high-performance version of BMW’s iconic 3-series and its newest addition to the line up, the 4-series. This throaty, rear wheel drive machine is designed for those who love mixing up speed, performance and nature, as a result of this being a hardtop convertible. Yes, the easy-to-use power operated top can be converted with a mere push of button to a thrilling open-air vehicle.

This year’s midsize M-Series convertible trades in the 8-cylinder for an all-new more fuel-efficient 6-cylinder to compliment the gas saving start-and-stop engine. Even with this being an inline 6-cylinder, the M4 still manages to crank out over 400 horses from underneath the engine. To be exact, the M4 pumps out 425 horses. Driving enthusiasts can experience all 425 horses by selecting from one of two available transmissions in the M4: a 7-speed double clutch automatic transmission with paddles shifters or the more engaging 6-speed manual transmission. We were fortunate that the M4 we reviewed was outfitted with a 6-speed manual transmission, which upped the fun factor.

To add to the driving experience and maintain control of our performance-oriented convertible, our M4 was outfitted with the M-series signature carbon ceramic brakes. And these aren’t the BMW’s typical brakes. In fact, these brakes visually showcase the gold-painted calibers, which scream loudly, this is a performance vehicle, while been surrounded by the stout 19-inch wheels.

And beyond the typical tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, which allows drivers to find the optimal steering position, the M4 also gave drivers the ability to select from a variety of steering settings too: comfort, sport and sport plus. Yes, through just a mere flicker of a button, the driving experience matched both the driving dynamics and the mood of the driver.

Furthermore, with this being a hardtop convertible, the engineers made sure that those who wanted to get full use of the vehicle all year round would have access to such standard (or optional) features as heated seats, a heated steering wheel, heated neck warmers for the front seats and a heated steering wheel.

Lastly, the engineering team also outfitted with such optional safety driving aids as a rear camera and an electronic blind spot system.

Cons: While this is a performance-oriented convertible, we recommend opting out of the optional adaptive M-suspension system, especially if you’re seeking a driving experience more geared toward comfort. Even with the option of selecting from comfort, sport and sport plus modes, we found the driving experience to be a little too harsh for our taste, especially if we were considering taking a road trip.

Moreover, the eye-popping price tag for both the BMW and its competitor could be out of the reach of most buyers looking for a thrilling experience in a well-engineered drop top. Surprisingly, for those seeking an European vehicle, which puts out just as much horsepower, but at a lower price point, might lean toward the 2015 Mustang GT convertible. Yes, we said Mustang. And no, Ford doesn’t offer a hardtop convertible. With that said, the 50th Anniversary Mustang GT is worthy of being placed in the same league as the German makes.

Lastly, why aren’t ventilated seats available for when the front seat occupants are tooling around with the top down in the summer heat?

Verdict: For buyers yearning for an all-weather, well-built, German-engineered, performance-oriented, hardtop convertible, with the horsepower to prove it, the M4 is definitely the vehicle of choice. The new M4, with its gas saving stop-and-start feature is literally the old M3, but in a large package with a host of upgrades that is now powered by a turbocharged 6-cylinder engine.

Competition:  Audi RS 5 Cabriolet 

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