I’ve had my hands all over the BMW performance range this year, but the M4 Competition convertible is an early favourite of mine. As much a lifestyle choice as it is a true performance offering I was interested to see how it compared to the standard M4 Competition I drove last year. Would it be lethargic in the corners? Did the xDrive system make a marked difference over the RWD? Is life really any better with the roof down, or should you just cop the coupe and be done with it? These are the questions I wanted to answer.
Of course, the early assumption was that it wouldn’t drive any different to the coupe because unlike early performance convertibles, rigidity isn’t something you necessarily have to worry about with convertibles these days. If it’s a question of money, it’s relatively safe to also assume that someone who can afford a $165,900 car can also afford a $176,900 car ($11k over an M4 xDrive coupe), so it’s more a choice of style or lifestyle then…? Why wouldn’t you opt for the convertible? Does it feel any different to the coupe?
In Australia, the M4 Convertible is only available in ‘Competition’ spec (meaning 510HP), only comes with an eight-speed automatic, and only comes in an xDrive (4WD) layout. It’s the xDrive that made the biggest first impression and it was mostly in the buttocks. Where the M4 Competition RWD had that classic squirmish rear-drive squat that we all love from high-powered coupes, the convertible was far more eloquent in its power delivery. It’s still bonkers fast, but it set the tone for the overall experience with the convertible.
It behaves more like a Grand Tourer or ‘GT’ than the knife-edge coupe I remember punting around Phillip Island. We blame the extra 145kg it’s carrying around over the xDrive coupe or the 265kg over the coupe RWD I drove. Does that make it any better or worse? No, it’s just different.
The xDrive system might be rear-biased (you can even lock it in RWD), but there’s no element of surprise when you put you put your foot down. You’re engulfed by the MASSIVE wave of torque that propels you from corner to corner and you can use more of it than you can in the RWD car. I was driving a Jaguar F-Type P450 (with the supercharged V8) before I jumped in the M4 and it only takes one push of the accelerator before you’re reminded that this is the starting price for a car that you cannot go full throttle in. It made the Jaguar feel slow.
On the street or on your local ‘driving road’ it doesn’t feel any slower than anything outside of a true supercar. The mid-range is an absolute star, and the way it propels you between corners is outstanding. While it has a reline above 7000rpm you’re best short shifting and keeping the torque between 2750-5500rpm where it makes all 650Nm. When you jump on the brakes hard (sometimes very hard) the car doesn’t get upset and there’s plenty left in the pedal.
You begin to notice the lack of roof rigidity when you tip the car in after braking. It’s not the kind of feeling your average Joe wouldn’t notice, but when you’ve driven the coupe on the track and on the street it’s the small nuanced change that you can pick up. Don’t get me wrong, you can carry some immense speed – this is an M4 Competition after all – but I wouldn’t say the car ever felt truly happy being pushed hard. It can absolutely do it, but does it enjoy it as much as the coupe does? Not really. We preferred to keep it under eight tenths in its true happy place.
Related: 2023 BMW M4 CSL Unveiled.
So what does it enjoy then? I love the M4 Competition Convertible for its touring ability and split personality. If you want to have some fun it’s more than happy to oblige when you put your foot down. It’s still the car you can jump in to have a sporty drive, but it’s best suited to winding hills with a lunch stop at your favourite cafe or restaurant along the way. If you plan on pushing the car beyond eight tenths I’d steer you towards the coupe but is there a better car for the money when you want to tour the King’s Highway on the South Coast? I think not. If you enjoy driving for the excitement of the exhaust, the wind in your hair, and the sights you get to see along the way, why not try your hand at a convertible M4 Competition?
The 2022 BMW M4 Competition convertible starts from $176,900 AUD before on-road cost. For more information about the M4 Competition, you can read my review here, or visit the BMW website via the link below.
The new fabric roof is 40% lighter than the previous generation’s hardtop and can be operated at speeds of up to 50km/h. In the video above I showed how you can also use the key to put it up and down. It all takes 18 seconds, and there’s still plenty of space left over in the boot because it’s a soft-top – enough for two carry on suitcases (just).