BMW M4 Convertible Competition Pack Review: Road Test22 June 2017
We checkout the BMW M4 Convertible – with added kick in the form of BMW’s Competition Pack.
As with any convertible, once the roof of the car is removed, its structural integrity is severely compromised.
With the removal of the roof, BMW engineers need to strengthen the overall chassis of the car, by adding rigidity and strength a fixed roof generates.
How good a job they do determines how much scuttle shake* remains in the car. It is extremely difficult to engineer out and remains noticeable even on high-end Rolls-Royce and Bentley convertibles, too. As a result, there is a degree of acceptability of it when considering a convertible car. However, strengthening the chassis always brings added weight which can impact on body control, handling and overall performance.
The new BMW M4 convertible is heavier than the coupe, but is still a lot of fun to drive. Its added weight comes partly from the additional folding mechanism for the hard-top roof, but mostly from the necessarily beefier chassis.
Trims, Equipment and Pricing
As you would expect of a car returning little change from £60,000, the M4 convertible is very well equipped and jam packed with the latest on-board technology and driver aides. It is available in two trims – the standard M4 and the enhanced M4 Competition Pack.
Base M4 trim comes with 19-inch alloys, adaptive M suspension, xenon headlights and an active differential.
Inside, there are swathes of leather, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, wireless phone charging, and BMW's iDrive system with a nine-inch infotainment screen, sat nav, DAB radio and online services.
Invest a further £2,200 for the Competition Pack and your M4 convertible comes with more horsepower, adaptive suspension with Pack-specific springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. There’s also an active M differential with Comfort, Sport and Sport+ driving modes. Inside, there are exclusive front seats with back-rest cut-outs and M colour striped seat belts. It’s all rather tasty, to be honest.
Engines, Drivetrains and Performance
There is just the one engine powering the BMW M4, whether in Coupe or Convertible body style. It’s the same 3.0-litre inline-six engine that’s been powering the M4 from the beginning of its life back in 2014. It’s good for 431hp of pure, pleasurable power and a healthy 550Nm of torque available from a lowly 1,830rpm.
In developing the Competition Pack, M Division engineers squeezed a further 19hp from the engine, offering a nicely rounded 450hp of brute force while the torque remains unchanged.
The M4 Convertible comes as standard with a six-speed manual, with the option to choose a seven-speed M DCT (double clutch transmission), which costs £2,645.
Obviously, both transmissions provide advantages over the other so choosing which comes down to a matter of preference.
On a car of this sporty nature, the manual transmission is always the way to go if you want to control the way your M4 drives. It is much more challenging and the convertible’s performance – and there is a lot of it – is literally in your hands. If you can get the power down, 60 mph arrives in a blurry 4.4 seconds from a dead start.
Compared to the DCT gearbox which is able to accelerate to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, either by using the paddle shifts or letting the gearbox change by itself. The DCT can accelerate quicker from a standing start with smoother gearshifts.
In terms of fuel economy – largely an irrelevance on a car of this type – the manual M4 Convertible Competition Pack returns a combined cycle of 32.1 mpg, while the DCT will average out at a slightly better 34.0 mpg. CO2 rating for the manual-geared model equates to 204g/km, while the DCT emits less at 194g/km CO2.
Ride and Handling
Here is where the M4 Convertible Competition Pack loses some appeal.
The convertible weighs in at 178kg more than its coupe sibling. This weight comes from extra chassis strengthening and the folding convertible roof mechanism. The extra weight can be felt in certain aspects in how it drives.
The coupe feels more agile compared to the convertible, with the presence of the smallest amounts of scuttle shake, together it doesn’t fill the driver with all the confidence needed to make full use of the 450 horsepower available.
Despite these flaws, the M4 Convertible Competition Pack is impressively refined. With the roof down, as long as the windows and wind deflector are up, the cabin remains distinctly un-breezy, even at speed
Whilst the coupes agility and chassis dynamics allow it to tackle tricky mountain roads, the convertible is perfectly suited to roof down grand touring along gentle sweeping coast roads, and extended motorway cruising.
The BMW M4 Convertible Competition Pack shouldn’t have to explain itself to prospective buyers. At the end of the day, it’s a very quick BMW and as such, you can expect it to be built in a world-class manner with features and technologies that few automakers are capable of.
The only question you’re likely to be confronted with is whether the BMW M4 Convertible Competition Pack represents a better car leasing deal than the standard M4 Convertible. It’s a wickedly fast and capable car, but it’s not something you can explore the limit without a measurable degree of skill and lots of open space.
As an upgrade, the Competition Pack undeniably improves the BMW M4 convertible. From that aggressive stance and glorious noise, to the great seats and funky belts, it’s a step forward but perhaps a step closer to what the M4 convertible should have been in the first plac
* Scuttle shake is the phenomenon experienced in many convertible or open top cars where, due to lower structural rigidity caused by the lack of a roof, the middle section of the chassis flexes, causing the bulkhead in front of the passenger compartment to move and vibrate when the vehicle is subject to uneven road surfaces. Passengers feel it as a noticeable vibration and shudder.