DETROIT (when the weather is warm) – The BMW M4 Competition Convertible packs a lot of performance into a convertible body. In many cases, the convertible version of the coupe was watered down and made into a less intense package. Not so with the M4 Convertible, which remains focused on performance.
There’s only one version of the convertible M4, and that’s the Competition with xDrive all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Maybe BMW was right to skip the manual — enthusiasts are more likely to want the coupe anyway — but limiting the convertible to all-wheel drive is an odd move. Perhaps BMW’s customer data reveals a curious desire for bad-weather traction and convertibles (or impressing neighbors by slapping as many badges on the back of an M4 as possible), but there’s also no denying the performance advantages that xDrive brings to the M4 when When the weather is not dominated by snowstorms and atmospheric rivers.
We found it a handy system on the track, and even with the added weight, the M4 Competition Convertible was two-tenths of a second quicker to 60 mph than the rear-wheel-drive M4 Competition Coupe. BMW claims the convertible does 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds, and from the driver’s seat, there’s no question it can match that time over and over again. Launching in a rear-wheel-drive M4 always involves wheel spin, but the AWD Convertible comes off the line with zero delay or fuss—save weight for the convertible, and the AWD M4 Competition Coupe is another 0.2-second quicker.
Regarding weight, a similarly equipped convertible weighs 327 pounds more than the M4. That’s enough to be noticeable in a car that weighs 4,306 pounds. Despite the weight gain, after two generations of retractable hardtops, BMW managed to reduce the roof-related weight by 40% in the new generation (we’re referring here to the old 3-series convertible) by switching back to a soft top. You can choose the top in black or in “Moonlight Black,” the latter designed to mimic the shimmer of metallic paint in the sun. Putting the roof up or down takes about 18 seconds, and you can do it at speeds of up to 31 mph.
We’ve gotten that far without addressing the M4’s styling, which can be aggressive and fun or repulsive and bad, depending on who you talk to. The same large nostril kidney grille as the coupe is installed on the convertible. The side profile mimics that of a coupe, and you’ll know it’s an M-back thanks to the signature quad exhaust and blacked-out M Competition badge. Pretty sleek and subtle movement everywhere you look except the front, but the same can be said for a lot of BMWs these days.
Like many coupes converted into convertibles, BMW made up for the loss of stiffness inherent in removing the roof. For this purpose, the M4 Convertible is equipped with a model-specific torsion strut kit at the rear. The rest of the chassis is standard M4 Competition fare, and it also features BMW’s Adaptive M Suspension.
The end result is a performance convertible that performs very much like the coupe it’s based on. That means the M4 Convertible can happily be a tolerable daily driver or a hardcore performance car – with such a wide range of talents. Target the various drive modes to settings of full comfort, and the M4 drives smoothly with little drama. If you put the exhaust in quiet mode, you can even get total silence in the cabin with the roof up (but that’s no fun).
Where the M4 Competition Convertible shines is when the roof is off and you’re bumping down a beautiful road on a sunny summer day. In this environment, it rivals the Coupe for driving pleasure. Yes, fanatics craving maximum performance will still appreciate the light feel of the coupe, but the extra involvement of the all-outsider and the roar of this six-cylinder engine largely makes up for the added weight. You’ll feel the extra weight in tighter corners and when braking, but that doesn’t stop you from having fun. The roofless M4 is still a high-strength performance car with enough chops to put a smile on any performance fanatic’s face.
As we mentioned, losing the roof means more exhaust noise. That’s a plus, but probably not enough to fully sway us. Sure, an inline-six sounds good, but we wouldn’t say it’s great. You’ll hear a pop and pop on overdrive and downshifts; the noise increases by octaves as you crank it up the rev range, but doesn’t have a wow factor at any point . 503 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque have you slamming back into the seat and the wind in your hair amplifies the drive, but this convertible doesn’t offer the kind of change one might expect from other convertibles Live the experience of a performance car past or present.
The same new steering system shown in the M3 and coupe M4 is also carried on this variant. It’s surprisingly light at first (even in Sport trim), but that’s a big improvement for BMW. Excessively heavy steering is a scourge that affects many cars, but not this M4. Aside from the carbon-backed, bolstered seats found in our test car, the M4 Convertible is an easy-to-use vehicle for everyday work. You can plug in the wind deflector to have conversations on the highway with the top down. Plus, for a soft top, driving with it jacked up is surprisingly luxurious. BMW used multiple layers of insulation, a flush glass rear window and a smooth top surface to help achieve that luxury effect, and the results are satisfying. It’s unlikely you’ll miss the hardtop.
When you open the trunk, there may be nothing at first glance, but on closer inspection, the cargo area is still very suitable for small luggage. In this generation of the 4 Series, even the rear seats are big enough for adult passengers, so you can bring three friends along for a convertible thrill ride. If you decide to switch the all-wheel drive system to 2WD (rear wheel drive) mode, it will surely turn into a thrilling ride. Doing so requires deactivating the stability control – it would certainly be nice if the ESC could remain activated – which would have transformed the previous AWD M4 from a stable, neutral car on the road to one that was constantly trying to bite off the car with your head. Just make sure you don’t leave your local car and coffee the first time you try this “everything off” mode.
That’s a whopping $7,000 upcharge for using the convertible compared to the M4 Competition xDrive Coupe. Still, if you don’t want an automatic or all-wheel drive, the regular M4 is $15,000 cheaper. BMW charges a lot for upgrading to Competition models with xDrive, which has us hoping again that the M4 will come with a rear-drive-only manual transmission. That’s really the biggest issue we have with this seemingly odd roof/drivetrain pairing. Currently, the cheapest price for a 2023 M4 Convertible is $90,695. After checking out the various options on our tester, the price rose to over $115,000. That’s more expensive than a base BMW M850i xDrive Convertible, and keep checking the box and you’re entering basic Porsche 911 Convertible territory.
BMW’s most natural rival would be the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Convertible, but that model is MIA for the 2023 model year as we all wait to see what the upcoming CLE-Class will bring from the AMG side. Consider the Corvette Convertible, Jaguar F-Type Convertible and Porsche 718 Boxster variants, but all of these are two-seaters. It must also be said that all-wheel drive makes the M4 a year-round car. Others like the Corvette and 718 Boxster (especially the GTS 4.0 spec) are better drivers, but these alternatives have their own drawbacks. It finally puts the M4 in a neat niche offering sports car performance in a reasonably practical luxury convertible package. If the taboo is around $100,000, that’s a keg to choose from, which makes us happy that the M4 convertible has an energetic burst and drives well.