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BMW M4 Convertible Road Test & Review

Lyndon Bell
by Lyndon Bell
April 27, 2015
6 min. Reading Time
2015 BMW M4 Convertible top up ・  Photo by Lyndon Bell

2015 BMW M4 Convertible top up ・ Photo by Lyndon Bell

Introduced during the summer of 2014, the BMW M4 Convertible is a world-class grand tourer, which is actually two cars in one. Thanks to its folding hardtop, you get the comfort, quiet, and security of a closed coupe; along with the beauty, charisma, and excitement of an open car.

To put this to the test, we undertook a 3.5-hour road trip to the Yosemite Valley from our base of operations in suburban San Francisco. One of the most beautiful places on earth, the Yosemite Valley is home to some of the world’s tallest waterfalls and sheer granite formations. If you want to really get to know a car, the drive involves a number of different kinds of roads; busy city streets, roughly hewn two-lane country roads paved with coarse aggregate, multi-lane freeways, high speed two lanes with long straights, and some of the most intricately carved winding roads you’ll ever encounter.

This was a trip seemingly made specifically for a GT car like the BMW M4 Convertible.

Already familiar with the closed version of the BMW M4, we knew we could probably expect a smooth ride and adroit handling. But would the Convertible also match up in quietness, comfort and performance potential? By undertaking such a road trip, we put all of the BMW’s faculties under concentrated scrutiny.

So, when all was said and done, how did the M4 acquit itself?

To find out, read on…

Models & Pricing

Itself a trim line of the BMW 4 Series model, the 2015 BMW M4 convertible starts at $72,500. Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels with performance oriented “summer” tires, smart xenon headlights to follow the movements of the steering wheel, a full set of auto dimming rearview mirrors, heat for both of the electrically-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth handsfree telephony and audio streaming, and an 8.8-inch display monitor with BMW’s iDrive controller.

Our test car was fitted with the $3,500 Executive Package, which added a heated steering wheel, keyless entry and pushbutton start, a rearview camera, neck warmers in the front seats, retractable headlight washers, front and rear parking sensor arrays, a heads up display, and satellite radio.

BMW’s $1,900 Lighting package added smart LED headlights capable of dimming themselves when approaching oncoming traffic. The M double clutch automated manual transmission added another $2,900. M carbon ceramic brakes ($8,150), the adaptive M suspension system ($1,000), and a $1,200 set of the optional 19-inch double spoke wheels with staggered widths front and rear were also fitted. Topping it all off was a 10-speaker Harman Kardon surround audio system ($875). Fold in BMW’s $950 destination and delivery charge and you’ll get our as-tested price of $93,525.

 Photo by Lyndon Bell

Photo by Lyndon Bell


Specifically differentiating the M4, the kidney grilles feature twinned bars rendered in black, with a small M4 logo gracing the left opening. Gaping air intakes telegraph the extraordinary power of the engine. Meanwhile, the traditional twin-headlight arrangement is enclosed behind translucent covers, which appear to flow out of the grilles. The subtle power dome in the hood makes room for the turbochargers’ intercooler. A particularly fetching detail is the sculpting of the exterior rear-view mirror housings.

Equally good looking – top up or down – the M4 Convertible’s long hood/long wheelbase/short rear deck profile is beautiful. A crisply sculpted line originates from beneath the gill vents just aft of the front wheels, then goes on to emphasize the shoulder line of the BMW as it races toward the wraparound taillights. By the way, those gills work with intakes at the front of the M4 to optimize airflow over the wheel arches. The convex character line at the bottom of the doors works in concert with the aerodynamic side sills to add a curvaceous element leading to the flared rear fenders.

At the rear, the BMW M4’s trunklid overlaps the taillights and also delineates the license plate well. A sharply drawn line extending the width of the car flows into the rear wheel arches, while simultaneously defining the bumper. Capping it nicely, the carved-in air outlets flanking the signature four BMW M exhaust system tips create additional visual interest.

 Photo by Lyndon Bell

Photo by Lyndon Bell

Features & Controls

Utterly businesslike, the interior of the M4 Convertible is unabashedly focused around the driver. If you look closely, you’ll note the center console is slanted ever so subtly toward the generously rimmed dual spoke steering wheel. In turn, the wheel offers a set of masterfully blended switchgear for the cruise control, audio, telephony, and voice control functions. There are also two programmable buttons, which gave us the ability to preselect two performance settings for the suspension, steering, engine responsiveness, and transmission shift speed (because we had the M double clutch transmission).

Dominating the center stack is the 8.8-inch video display for the iDrive system, which contains the navigation system, and audio entertainment functions including the radio and any other supported portable audio devices. The monitor can be set up to function as a dual display, which allowed us to simultaneously keep track of navigation information, while also being apprised of other needed trip-related information. It also facilitates setting various functional vehicle parameters.

The Bluetooth system permits the pairing of multiple devices. As we knew we were going to be doing a 12-hour day in the car, we paired our iPad for entertainment and our iPhone for communications in an effort to optimize the life of the phone’s battery. The arrangement worked beautifully. Music and podcasts streamed from the iPad, all completely searchable using the M4’s iDrive controller and monitor. When a phone call came in, the system switched seamlessly to the phone, then went right back to where it left off in the iPad’s audio programming when the call was completed.

 Photo by Lyndon Bell

Photo by Lyndon Bell

Comfort & Cargo

With a 3.5-hour drive across California to Yosemite and another 3.5 hours back; combined with short drives comprising some 85 of the 214 miles of paved roads within the park to view the various attractions, we spent a total of 12 hours in and out of the M4 Convertible over the course of the day. The long stints from the coast to mountains and back were accomplished in irreproachable comfort as we drove with the hardtop in place to take advantage of the sound-absorbing headliner’s ability to minimize wind noise on the high-speed portions of the drive. Nicely finished, the top’s ceiling looks just like one in a regular car.

Arriving at Yosemite National Park, our M4 went from coupe to convertible in 20 seconds. Had we chosen to do so, we could have accomplished the feat on the move at speeds of up to 11 miles per hour. The top is stored in the trunk when retracted. Cargo capacity with the roof deployed is 13.0 cubic feet. This is reduced to 7.8 cubic feet when it is folded away.

With the three-piece folding hardtop retracted, we could view the park’s towering granite formations and waterfalls from the exceptionally comfortable BMW M sport seats. Invitingly firm without being hard, they felt good when we settled into them, and they still felt good 12 hours later when we got back home. Heated and power-operated, the seats feature adjustable side bolstering. This means they can be snuggled up for added support in the corners when driving the M4 hard, or relaxed to allow more movement about when touring. The seats also use a single-piece linear back panel, which seems to mold itself to your body for comfort.

So much so, we never gave them a thought, until we activated the integrated three-temperature neck warmers on our jaunt up to Yosemite’s Glacier Point for an eye-to-eye view of the park’s signature peak, Half Dome. At 7,214 feet of elevation, the thermometer fell some 15 points from the 70-degree temperatures we’d enjoyed on the valley floor. Still, with the roof folded away and the side windows raised, we were nice and toasty with our necks bathed in warm air blowing from just beneath the headrests.

 Photo by Lyndon Bell

Photo by Lyndon Bell

Safety & Crash Test Ratings

Neither NHTSA nor the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety crash tested the BMW M4 Convertible, so we have no data to report.

Further, since we do our level best to avoid crashes…

Happily, BMW fits a number of distinctive features to ensure the M4’s ability to help us do so. For example, the brakes have a drying function, which in wet weather will lightly snug the pads against the rotors ever so often when the windshield wipers are activated to keep them as dry as possible. This helps maintain optimal braking performance. The system also pre-loads the brakes whenever the driver lifts off of the throttle abruptly to facilitate the achievement of maximum braking more quickly.

Standard features also include ABS, stability and traction control, a full complement of airbags, and rollover protection. The integrated BMW Assist emergency system features automatic crash notifications, stolen vehicle recovery, and roadside assistance summoning. Optional features include blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning in addition to frontal collision warning and mitigation.

 Photo by Lyndon Bell

Photo by Lyndon Bell

Engine & Fuel Economy

Power comes from a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection and variable valve timing. The turbos use BMW’s TwinPower technology to minimize turbo lag. Output is 425 horsepower and 406 ft-lbs of torque.

Peak torque is achieved between 1,850 rpm and 5,500 rpm. Peak horsepower is produced between 5,500 and 7,300 rpm. Combined, this produces exceptional acceleration, and what feels like a bottomless well of power. Zero to 60 is quoted at 4.1 seconds with launch control. Redline is 7,600 rpm.

As we mentioned previously, our car was fitted with the M-DCT (M dual clutch transmission). Capable of automated operation, the seven-speed gearbox features paddles on the steering wheel for manual shifting.

While fuel economy is estimated at 17-city, 24-hwy, and 19 combined using the M-DCT, we averaged 21.9. The available six-speed manual claims 17/26 and 20.

 Photo by Lyndon Bell

Photo by Lyndon Bell

Driving Impressions

Remarkably, the M4 goes about daily driving in an exceptionally quiet fashion. The engine pretty much just mutters about – until called upon to unleash its full capabilities. In fact, as we were motoring through our neighborhood, a neighbor questioned the M4’s performance potential because it was so quiet as we approached.

If she had heard the car out in the countryside, her doubts would have been completely erased. The sound of the twin-turbo six at full throttle is absolutely hair raising. The BMW M4 sounds exactly like a politely muted racing car at full throttle. People in the cars we passed probably thought they had been momentarily transported to LeMans.

On the highway, road noise is also exceptionally low, plus the M4 delivers the characteristic smoothness and sophistication we’ve come to expect from BMW. Long distance high-speed travel is as natural to the BMW M4 Convertible as extracting oxygen from water is to a fish. In the corners, steering is exceptionally communicative and accurate, amazing grip is displayed, and the brakes are strong and never threaten to fade.

With adjustable settings for steering effort and suspension compliance, as well as engine and transmission response, we could readily tailor the performance parameters to each situation we encountered.

The M4 is a driver’s car par excellence.

 Photo by Lyndon Bell

Photo by Lyndon Bell

Final Thoughts

A trip to heaven in a heavenly conveyance readily sums up our trip to Yosemite National Park in the BMW M4. The car flawlessly executed everything we asked of it, and looked darn good doing so. Even surrounded by all of Yosemite’s natural beauty, the M4’s appearance was commented upon positively. And, when it was just us and the road, the M4 provided exceptional thrills. A daily driver with outstanding performance potential, super long legs for high-speed highway travel, and the ability to transform itself from a coupe to an open car; the 2015 BMW M4 Convertible may well be the perfect ultimate driving machine.

 Photo by Lyndon Bell

Photo by Lyndon Bell

Pros & Cons

Quiet, smooth, and sophisticated when you need it to be; loud, fast, and proud when you want it to be…

Limited trunk space, though the rear seat does fold flat, pricey…

 Photo by Lyndon Bell

Photo by Lyndon Bell


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