BMW's M4 Convertible has style and speed

The BMW M4 Convertible’s folding hard-top takes 20 seconds to open or close. -- PHOTO: BMW
The BMW M4 Convertible’s folding hard-top takes 20 seconds to open or close. -- PHOTO: BMW
The BMW M4 Convertible’s folding hard-top takes 20 seconds to open or close. -- PHOTO: BMW
The BMW M4 Convertible’s folding hard-top takes 20 seconds to open or close. -- PHOTO: BMW

It will leave hair tousled, adrenaline pumping and hearts racing

In the motoring world, no other type of car espouses a carefree lifestyle the way a convertible does.

Driving "topless" tells other motorists that you lead a completely relaxed life and have a fun-loving personality.

Indeed, the stresses of the world are forgotten when the wind is in your hair and the sun is kissing your face.

BMW's M division, however, believes that convertibles should have more go than show. Getting from point A to point B must be done in a manner that is not only exciting, but also so rapid that other drivers will not even be able to take a good look at you.

The current M6 Convertible, for instance, packs 560bhp and can rocket from rest to 100kmh in a scintillating 4.3 seconds. And it does so despite weighing more than 2 tonnes.

Enthusiasts looking for a lighter and smaller - but no less rapid - convertible now have the M4 Convertible, the latest topless rocket in the M arsenal.

Based on the M4 Coupe, the M4 Convertible is endowed with the same aggressive-looking design elements, which include huge air intakes on the front bumper, a "power dome" in the middle of the bonnet and quad-exhausts at the rear.

But instead of a fixed roof, the M4 Convertible has a three-piece folding hard-top, which requires only 20 seconds to open or close.

In my opinion, this cabriolet looks coolest with the roof down, as the shut-lines that demarcate each section of the roof are unsightly.

Inside, both the M4 Convertible and its Coupe sibling have the same layout. The only differences are their front and rear seats.

The front seats of the Convertible come with what BMW calls "air collars" - air vents located below the headrests that can channel warm air to the back of front passengers' necks.

These air collars were most welcome during our drive, which took place last month with the mercury hovering at 12 deg C. Too bad there is no option to channel chilled air, which would be slightly more useful in Singapore.

The backs of the rear seats are fixed in a more upright angle compared to the ones in the coupe, so long-distance drives could become tiring for occupants in the second row.

Fortunately, the M4 Convertible has the ability to shorten any road trip.

Beneath the car's swollen bonnet is a 3-litre twin-turbo straight-six engine that packs 431bhp and 550Nm - 11bhp and 150Nm more than its predecessor, the M3 Convertible, with its normally aspirated 4-litre V8 engine.

Naturally, the M4 Convertible is quicker than the M3 Convertible. The M4 dispatches the century sprint in 4.4 seconds - 0.7 of a second quicker compared to the M3.

Significantly, the M4 Convertible is only 0.3 of a second slower than its Coupe sibling.

The M3 Convertible, on the other hand, is half a second slower than the M3 Coupe, which takes 4.6 seconds to go from rest to 100kmh.

Our route from Munich to the town of Seefeld in Austria was ideal for putting the M4 Convertible's abilities to the test. The autobahn heading away from Munich included several unrestricted stretches that allowed us to sample the car's high- speed stability.

With few cars in sight, we managed to push the car to 268kmh (the test-drive unit is not electronically governed). The aerodynamicists did a swell job, for the car felt absolutely planted. Who says you need a big rear wing to generate downforce?

This was accomplished with three adults on board and a full tank of fuel. The car's top speed might have been even higher had the car been lighter.

Even when it is devoid of occupants, the M4 Convertible is pretty hefty. It weighs 1,865kg, or 253kg more than the M4 Coupe. That is the equivalent to having five svelte women in the car.

BMW's M engineers have managed to mitigate this disadvantage. Twisty mountain roads do not faze the car, which still obediently tucks itself into tight corners and takes long sweeping bends in its stride.

There is a tad more body roll here compared to the M4 Coupe, primarily because of the softer damping (even with the suspension in Sport+ mode), but the benefit is better ride comfort.

But at any rate, none of this should concern an M4 Convertible driver.

All he needs to do is put on a pair of sunglasses, drop the top and listen to that glorious exhaust note as he leaves his worries behind - with the wind in his hair and the sun kissing his face.

stlife@sph.com.sg

The writer is with Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.