THERE'S a great deal that's new about the M4, not least the name.
Previously you could have an M3 in coupé, saloon and convertible formats, but now the M3 is saloon only.
It's the M4 takes on the mantle as the coupé, the most popular model by far.
You get a stack of bespoke exterior parts to add menace as well as a bit of downforce and there's 85kg of weight saved over the old car with bits like the carbonfibre roof, strut brace and a lightweight driveshaft. But the biggest news is under the bonnet.
The naturally aspirated V8 has been binned in favour of a twin turbocharged six-cylinder unit for the first time on an M car.
The new engine sees a slight power upgrade over the previous V8 to 431hp, now delivered between 5,500 and 7,300rpm, with maximum revolutions set at an unusually high figure for a turbocharged engine: 7,600rpm. Peak torque has been increased by roughly 40 per cent to 550Nm, and is maintained over a very wide rev range (1,850–5,500rpm).
The standard sprint from 0-62mph takes 4.3 seconds with manual transmission, or just 4.1 seconds with the optional M DCT, while the top speed is 155mph (electronically limited). The new powerplant also boasts excellent fuel economy: the combined consumption in the EU cycle is as high as 34mpg and CO2 emissions are as low as 194g/km, an improvement of 26 per cent over the previous model’s figures.
As you'd expect, the transformation to M4 brings with it some extra aggression. Indeed, it's positively menacing. There are big air vents at the front, a deep chin spoiler, flared wheel arches and big wheels as standard, and the result is a terrific-looking piece of automotive design from pretty much any angle.
The transformation to M4 gives almost nothing away to the standard car, so sadly you've got no excuse for leaving the loved ones behind in a haze of tyre smoke. Up front, there are excellent sports seats, plenty of head and legroom - even for taller drivers - and you can fit adults in the back seats too. The boot is also impressive with 445 litres, and sensibly it has a good luggage net to stop everything flying about (which it would otherwise most certainly do).
Like all the current M cars, the M4 gives you a multitude of options to play with, offering three settings for the engine, suspension, gearbox and steering. With everything set to either Comfort or Efficiency, the M4 does a pretty convincing impression of a bog-standard 4 Series.
It rides exceptionally well and is quiet bar the odd growl from the engine when you poke it. But frankly that's a waste of a performance car. Turn everything up to the middle Sport mode and instantly it feels more alert. Squeeze the throttle and the response is instant, that turbocharged engine offering up strong torque regardless of engine revs, and there's a pleasing metallic note from the exhaust thanks to some clever electronic enhancement.
Push the M4 hard and the grip is hugely impressive, and its overall composure superb. It's a genuine M car, no doubt.
You will want it with the seven-speed dual clutch gearbox, because its transmission is quite brilliant and makes the manual seem redundant. And you can always play with the gear lever and paddle-shifters if you want more fun.
And this car is as much about fun as it is about comfort and fantastic build quality and looks. I cannot think of another road car in this price bracket with a 0 to 62mph sprint time of 4.1 seconds.
Compared with the outgoing car, the M4 has had a notable upgrade in the amount of standard kit. You now get 19-inch wheels, Xenon headlights, the adaptive M suspension and things like folding electric mirrors as standard, where previously they were options. That's not to say you can't go a bit nuts with the options; the desirable carbon ceramic brakes are £6,250.
There are two main types of people that will want an M4 on their driveway. Firstly there are the enthusiasts who know the history of the M cars and want a performance car that has motorsport links and can cut it on the track as well as on the road. The other type are those who want that M badge - and possibly one of the more eye-catching colours - to let everyone know they've arrived.
At a glance
BMW M4, £58,295 (with M DCT transmission)
Engine: 3.0-litre unit producing 425bhp and 406lb/ft of torque
Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch gearbox driving the rear wheels
Performance: Top speed 155mph (limited), 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds
Economy: 34.0mpg combined
Emissions: 194g/km of CO2