2021 BMW M4 Performance Package new car reviews

Photography by Tim Suddard unless otherwise credited

Just for a minute, let’s put the controversial styling of the BMW M4 (and M3, for that matter) aside and just look at the numbers: 473 horsepower and 406 lb.-ft. of torque from an S58 turbocharged inline-six.

A six-speed manual comes standard, though an eight-speed automatic is available if you opt for the M4 Competition (which will also grant you 30 more horsepower and 73 more lb.-ft. of torque over the Core model).

Reaching 60 mph from a standstill will only take 4.1 seconds, and, if you keep your foot planted long enough, you’ll reach a top speed of 155 mph–180 if you opt for the Performance Package.

How does all that translate to real-world driving? Keep reading to find out.

Photograph Courtesy BMW

Photograph Courtesy BMW

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Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard
Publisher

Having owned and/or driven every iteration of the BMW M3 (now known as the M4), we take new versions of this car very personally. Cutting to the chase, the new-for-2021 M4 is the best and the worst M-car we have ever driven.

[2004 BMW M3 project car]

Before we explain how and why, let's start from the beginning. Our test car was delivered in Sao Paulo Yellow, a vivid yellow-green color that, while perhaps polarizing, we thought was pretty cool. The lack of subtlety portrays this car’s character completely.

Even less subtle is the full Merino leather interior in Yas Marina Blue and black with yellow accents. This $2550 option might be a bit much for most, but we thought it was rather striking. This car was also equipped with the M Carbon bucket seats–a $3800 option (more on these torture devices later)–and carbon-fiber interior trim ($950) as well as the M Drive Professional package, which is a rather gimmicky onboard drift analyzer with a lap timer. While we respect a car with a built-in lap timer, this can be accomplished for less than the $900 asking price.

Outside, our test car came with the sharp-looking but hideously expensive M Carbon Exterior package. This $4700 package includes carbon-fiber mirror caps, a carbon-fiber rear spoiler and carbon-fiber diffusers at both ends of the car.

Our car was also equipped with phenomenally strong M Carbon Ceramic Brakes. While an $8150 option, they are among the best brakes we've ever experienced. Before ordering this option, check how long they will last and what parts will cost.

The advantage of these brakes are that they're a bit lighter than steel rotors; they basically don’t fade; and the rotors will last about 100,000 miles. The disadvantage of these brakes is that when you do have to replace the rotors, you could spend close to $10,000.

Our car also had 19- and 20-inch staggered M Double Spoke bi-colored wheels with non-runflat Michelin tires. This wheel-and-tire package finished off a rather tough-looking track day weapon. Adding to the weaponry, this car was also equipped with the $2500 M Driver’s package. This package unleashes the top speed limiter to get you up to about 180 mph and includes a one-day course at a BMW Performance Driving school–choose from Thermal, California, or Greer, South Carolina.

With a $995 destination charge, all these options turned our already expensive $71,800 M4 into a $97,645 adventure.

Mechanically, the M4 is now powered by a 3.0-liter, inline six-cylinder engine that produces 473 horsepower and 405 lb.-ft of torque. This power is made possible via two mono-scroll turbochargers and direct injection. While we had a standard M4, the M4 Competition Coupe ($2900 extra) produces 503 horsepower but is only available with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Our car was also equipped with a nicely weighted, crisp-shifting six-speed manual transmission.

While blindingly fast with 4-second zero-to-60 times, the new M4 is a large, heavy car. It weighs 3709 pounds and is as big as a 5 Series BMW of just a few years ago. Still, the M4 does not feel that big. It is fast, nimble and can run with the rest of its class, including the GT3 Porsche.

Turn-in is quick and linear. Steady-state cornering grip will nearly knock your head off, and power delivery is smooth and supercar fast. The gear spacing is nearly flawless, and the rev limiter kicks in at a respectably lofty 7300 rpm.

Steering is just as quick and linear and belies its electronic origin. The M Carbon seats hold you in like a real race seat, and the thick steering wheel and controls–minus the goofy, hard-to-read digital gauges–are those of a real driver’s car.

The new M4 is hands down the best M4/M3 we have ever seen for track day use.

But we need to talk about driving to the track, not just on the track.

First, before you can get into your track day car, you will probably have to walk by the nose. While we're trying to understand the BMW design team’s need to out-ugly the front end of a Lexus, we just can’t forgive them for the disservice they've done BMW M lovers like us. You can squint, you can try the car in different colors, but that face is one that only a mother could love.

Assuming you can get past the schnoz, the M Carbon seats are very uncomfortable for any kind of long-distance driving. We know everyone is different and perhaps some might be comfortable in these seats, but both a 5-foot-3, 130-pound tester and a 6-foot, 225-pound tester were left bruised and broken from getting in and out of these seats and being bounced around by the suspension in this new M4 for a week and nearly 1000 miles. And trust us, we live our lives in race seats–we know what they're supposed to feel like.

And that adjustable suspension…

It's needlessly complicated and has multiple settings. Unfortunately, the settings might as well be labeled Punish, Stun and Kill. Among other cars, we race a 1957 Triumph TR3. While never known for its ride quality, compared to the new M4, the TR3 is downright comfortable to drive.

So, from lifelong M-car devotes, here’s the rundown on the new M4: seriously flawed aesthetics, performance equal to or better than world-class supercars costing twice as much or more, and ride quality that would make you rather spend a night in jail.

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Comments
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Sidewayze
Sidewayze Reader
7/19/21 10:12 p.m.

Hmmmmmm.   Let's see.   Expensive.  Hideous.  3700lbs.  Big nope. 

Duke
Duke MegaDork
7/20/21 6:04 a.m.
Colin Wood said:

Just for a minute, let’s put the controversial styling of the BMW M4 (and M3, for that matter) aside

Trying... trying... Nope, sorry, can't do it.

I saw a new non-M 4-series, and even they're getting the Death Schnoz now.

I loved my E46 for 12 years but BMW is totally irrelevant to me at this point.

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
7/20/21 6:26 a.m.

That's hideous, even without the mashed-pea color. Is Chris Bangle back as head of design?

Duke
Duke MegaDork
7/20/21 6:33 a.m.

In reply to ddavidv :

Maybe it was designed by this guy:

Barb_Dwyer
Barb_Dwyer New Reader
7/20/21 6:54 a.m.

In reply to Duke :

LOL XD

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
7/20/21 7:17 a.m.
Duke said:

In reply to ddavidv :

Maybe it was designed by this guy:

Time to go look for one in RED

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/20/21 7:40 a.m.

I saw one of these in white the other day. Changing the color of the car doesn't fix how hideous that front end is.  I know, "when you're in the driver's seat, you don't have to look at the exterior..." but still... wow. 

At least it's still available with a manual transmission. Kudos to BMW for that.

yupididit
yupididit GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/20/21 10:42 a.m.

There's a black on in the parking lot at work. Yeah....that frontend is ugly lol. 

 

I love the color-scheme of those seat though.

350z247
350z247 Reader
7/20/21 10:54 a.m.

Here come all the whiny "but it's so ugly" people. Sigh. Even if that mattered (which is doesn't; I've seen some of the track cars y'all drive), changing a bumper out takes like an hour and would be a nominal cost if you could actually afford one.

maschinenbau
maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
7/20/21 11:10 a.m.

Okay, let's forget the styling. This pig and its M3 brother weigh more than a Lexus SC400.

350z247
350z247 Reader
7/20/21 1:32 p.m.

In reply to maschinenbau :

It weighs 250lbs less than an E39 M5 but has the same dimensions. That's impressive. Cars either stay the same or get bigger; smaller is just not an option especially in the luxury market.

Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter)
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/20/21 2:30 p.m.

I hate to be that guy, but the Mustang GT has similar performance, size, economy, power, weight etc.  Some fractionally better, some fractionally worse.  But disregarding the price difference the Mustang still doesn't look like an over size Pug that's run into the back of a bus.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
7/20/21 2:40 p.m.

I get the Mustang comparison, but....

Why buy an M3 when you can get a Tesla Model 3 Performance for similar money?

 

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
7/20/21 2:46 p.m.
350z247 said:

Here come all the whiny "but it's so ugly" people. Sigh. Even if that mattered (which is doesn't; I've seen some of the track cars y'all drive), changing a bumper out takes like an hour and would be a nominal cost if you could actually afford one.

Guess I'm just not rich enough to ignore the fact that BMW screwed the pooch with this design. 

Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter)
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/20/21 2:54 p.m.
Tom Suddard said:

I get the Mustang comparison, but....

Why buy an M3 when you can get a Tesla Model 3 Performance for similar money?

 

That's easy.  Driving pleasure and engagement.  Much as the M3/4 is ugly as sin, I assume it's at least fun to drive.  Tesla make outstanding appliances, but lousy cars.  Sure, they may be fast around cones, but they are horrible to drive.

calteg
calteg Dork
7/20/21 2:55 p.m.

I get the Mustang comparison, but....

Why buy an M3 when you can get a Tesla Model 3 Performance for similar money?

 

 

Base price vs base price, a model 3 performance is almost $20,000 cheaper than the BMW

fearlesfil
fearlesfil New Reader
7/20/21 5:34 p.m.

Everyday Driver just did an hour comparison with the Mustang Mach I with magneto rheological shocks etc. Came out a tie 1:1 between their reviewers. Both hated the M4 grill. Note the GT350 has had 526 HP since six years ago...

350z247
350z247 Reader
7/20/21 8:52 p.m.

In reply to Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) :

I would never buy a Mustang GT just because of their garbage manual transmission. I would have to pony up (pun intended) to the Mach 1. Then again, I'd rather just buy a lightly used GT350 for thousands less.

300zxfreak
300zxfreak Reader
7/21/21 8:56 a.m.

I've beat on this dead horse many, many times before, but all auto designers must be on acid these days. I want/need a car I can sit back, pop a cold one, and stare at in the garage and think "all is right with the world".

The current crop of hideous, distorted, non-proportional front ends ( and some rears as well )make me want to toss my cookies on my nice clean garage floor.

In other words, I wouldn't be caught driving one of these abominations if they gave it to me free of charge. 

I sincerely hope that no one is brainless enough to purchase one of these, and we make BMW take it to the crusher where it belongs.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
7/21/21 11:14 a.m.

In reply to 300zxfreak :

What auto designers are high on these days is vast piles of Chinese new money.  Western luxury brand recognition is everything to the rich, bougie Chinese business types who are currently reveling in the quiet de facto fall of communism.  The way to cater to that market is to make the brand image recognizable from space.

 

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/21/21 1:21 p.m.

Some cars you park nose out. Some cars you park nose in. This is one of the latter.

yupididit
yupididit GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/21/21 1:29 p.m.

I saw an Aston Martin Vantage in Waco this past weekend, there's still some great new designs happening. What a gorgeous car. 

Jah29
Jah29 Reader
7/21/21 1:37 p.m.
fearlesfil said:

Everyday Driver just did an hour comparison with the Mustang Mach I with magneto rheological shocks etc. Came out a tie 1:1 between their reviewers. Both hated the M4 grill. Note the GT350 has had 526 HP since six years ago...

Can't find this on youtube.  Is it somewhere special?

AaronT
AaronT Reader
7/21/21 3:26 p.m.
300zxfreak said:

I've beat on this dead horse many, many times before, but all auto designers must be on acid these days. I want/need a car I can sit back, pop a cold one, and stare at in the garage and think "all is right with the world".

The current crop of hideous, distorted, non-proportional front ends ( and some rears as well )make me want to toss my cookies on my nice clean garage floor.

In other words, I wouldn't be caught driving one of these abominations if they gave it to me free of charge. 

I sincerely hope that no one is brainless enough to purchase one of these, and we make BMW take it to the crusher where it belongs.


At least we know you've never dropped acid before. 

No one who has ever drop acid would look at this car and think it was the result of designers tripping.

fearlesfil
fearlesfil New Reader
7/21/21 4:08 p.m.

In reply to 350z247 :

The transmission isn't too bad, it's the body mounted shifter that's the primary problem people suffer with. The transmission mounted MGW shifter fixes most issues. Redline oil and Ford friction modifier in the trans fixed my hard shifting when cold. Steeda's clutch pedal return spring fixes the high RPM lockout. So far I have just the oil/friction modifier in the transmission (was living with Denver winters for awhile), and while drag racing and road course track days shifting at 7,500 RPM I've never had an issue. 2011 GT Brembo (Boss 302 intake/tune) with 147,000 miles and going strong with the original clutch, shifter, pedal spring.

fearlesfil
fearlesfil New Reader
7/21/21 4:12 p.m.

In reply to Jah29 :

It was on DirecTV this week. May show on their youtube channel soon.

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