BMW's M4 Coupe: Love at first sight

BMW's M4 Coupe burns rubber yet dishes out driveability and comfort

BMW's new M4 Coupe is fast. So fast, in fact, that it has reached our shores barely a month after an international test-drive programme in Portugal.

Which means the car was already here for Land Transport Authority inspection and approval while the launch took place in Faro.

That's how small the world has shrunk.

Nobody's complaining, though. Whether you are an avid fan of M cars or someone who has never heard of them, you are likely to fall for the M4 at first sight.

That is not an exaggeration. The car is a visual feast, with lines which flow fluidly over a windswept silhouette which conveys speed and power even on a moonless night.

It has good genes to begin with. The car is derived from the 3-series coupe, which has always been a looker.

The M4 is the coupe version of the M3 Sedan, with two fewer doors and other small but vital differences.

It has the same length, wheelbase and tracks as the M3, but its body is a wee bit narrower and its roof - finished in delectable carbon fibre - is visibly lower.

All that adds up to a car which is substantially sleeker than its predecessors.

The most meaningful difference is its weight. The M4 is 23kg lighter than the M3 Sedan. That may not sound like much, but it translates to a power-weight ratio of 267.4bhp a tonne for the M4, versus 263.6bhp a tonne for the M3.

While BMW says that does not make a difference in acceleration and top speed, the M4 could quite possibly outperform the M3 on the track. That is where gaps of micro-seconds add up, where a lighter car might be slightly more resistant to brake fade and where extra weight acts against grip in repeated charges around tight corners.

For everyday driving, the M4 proves to be as hot as it looks. Even as you are easing it out of the garage, you sense its seething power which becomes more obvious with each caress of the right pedal. As soon as you find an open road, you squeeze the throttle and the M missile shoots off.

Before its dual-clutch transmission can slot in the third cog, the speedo is past the three-digit mark.

In the cockpit, you feel snug, confident and in control as the beautiful Beemer tears up the tarmac. As with all M cars, you can dial in your preferred degree of sportiness. But, most times, leaving it in Comfort mode is more than enough on public roads.

The source of the M4's awesomeness is its familiar 3-litre inline-6 which is aided by two turbochargers. It puts out more juice than the previous V8 which has served generations of M3s well.

From a performance perspective, the power plant is beyond reproach.

The only thing you miss, if you have grown up with M cars, is the impossibly deep burble which rises from the seat and swirls about in your tummy before rattling your ribcage like thunder.

The six-cylinder makes a nice sound, but it is no V8.

Like all good sports cars, the M4 comes with Launch Control, which helps you reach 100kmh in 4.1 seconds - 0.2 seconds quicker than the manual version.

There are not many opportunities in the real world to try Launch Control, but you can try Smokey Burnout.

No, the car does not come with a BBQ pit. The dorky term refers to a function which allows you to burn some rubber even at low speeds. It is a rascally feature which boy racers will appreciate and environment officers will frown upon.

On top of the usual stability and traction aids which temper brakes and throttle to keep you in lane, the M4 has Stability Clutch Control, which opens the clutch when the car is understeering to bring it back into line. The next generation might come with a virtual pro driver that takes over the wheel completely.

Until then, it is easy to enjoy this M car. It is more steroidal, and yet more driveable, than ever. The thing is, you do not even have to drive it hard to savour it - the car is smooth, graceful and remarkably comfortable. In fact, that is the most amazing bit about it.

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