Is there more to the BMW M4 than that big German nose that you can’t quit looking at?

LISTEN 15:44

The new BMW 4 Series, which was based on the BMW Concept 4, has been the victim of heavy criticism for some time now, and the M4 has fallen victim to the same big glass of hateraid. But, what sits behind that big, bulky, look-at-me nose is a humble powerhouse of performance that’s just as thrilling to drive as any other BMW on the market. After spending a week with the 2021 BMW M4 we can tell you that ugliness only runs skin deep, and you certainly shouldn’t judge a car by its face – this is our story with the new M4.

2021 BMW M4 – Powertrain and Performance

2021 BMW M4 - Driven Drivetrain
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While the cars the BMW M4 must compete with. – the Audi RS5 and Mercedes-AMG C63 S – both feature engines with a V-configuration, the M4 runs BMW’s tried-and-true 3.0-liter inline-six that can be paired with a manual transmission (count your blessings here, folks). The M4 isn’t quite as powerful as the cars it competes against, and the manual gearbox does slow it down a bit, but it’s also significantly lighter, and that goes a long way in terms of performance.

The new #bmwm4 is just as exciting to drive as I was dreaming it could be ! Mission accomplished for #bmw Forget about the nostalgia and jump in the #g80 era.

Posted by Philippe Daix on Saturday, March 20, 2021

How Much Power Does the 2021 BMW M4 Have?

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The BMW M4’s 3.0-liter inline-six delivers 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. These figures might not be groundbreaking when you consider the Audi RS5 offers up 444 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque while the AMG C63 S pumps out 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, but that doesn’t mean the M4 can’t hold its own.

How Fast is the 2021 BMW M4?

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The 2021 BMW M4 can hit 60 mph in as fast as 3.8 seconds when equipped with the automatic transmission. Opting for the manual transmission (come on, you know you want to!) increases that time to 4.1 seconds. With Audi RS5 and AMG C63S are only available with an eight-speed and nine-speed automatic, respectively, and can hit the same benchmark in 3.8 seconds. So, if you opt for the manual, both models will out sprint you to 60, but the tradeoff of slapping your own gears is worth it.

What Is The BMW M4’s Top Speed?

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In terms of top speed, the BMW M4 is electronically limited to 155 mph, just like the Audi RS5. If you opt for the M Driver’s package, though, that limit is raised to 180 mph – 6 mph faster than the RS5’s optional top speed and on par with the C63’s 180 mph top speed.

What Kind of Fuel Does the BMW M4 Require

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The BMW M4’s 3.0-liter inline-six is a precision engineered, turbocharged engine and BMW says that premium fuel is required. Running less than premium fuel won’t likely cause any immediate harm to the engine, but over time it could lead to problems. It’s also important to note that running subpar fuel could void your warranty, so you’re better off paying for the premium fuel from the start. It should also be noted that both the Audi RS5 and the AMG C63 S also feature premium fuel, as do most sports cars.

Is the BMW M4 Available with AWD?

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As of the time of this writing, the BMW M4 is only available in a rear-wheel-drive configuration, but BMW plans to start selling the M4 with its xDrive AWD system starting sometime in the summer of 2021, so if you’re interested in AWD, you’ll need to wait just a little longer before placing your order. The C63 S is also offered in RWD only, while the Audi RS5 comes standard with AWD.

2021 BMW M4 Fuel Economy

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For a car with 425 horsepower, the BMW M4 delivers admirable fuel economy at 17 mpg in the city, 23 mpg on the highway, and 19 mpg combined. However, both the Audi RS6 and AMG C63 S beat it out in every category, with a 3-4 mpg difference in highway driving being a rather large gap to justify if you’re big on fuel economy.

City Highway Combined
BMW M4 17 23 19
Audi RS5 18 26 21
Mercedes-AMG C63 S 18 27 21

How Much Does the BMW M4 Weigh?

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BMW put a lot of effort into keeping the 2021 M4 as light as possible, so the 3,625-pound curb weight isn’t too surprising. What’s really surprising is that it’s significantly lighter than the Audi RS5 at 4,057 pounds and the AMG C63 S at 3,900 pounds.

2021 BMW M4 Interior Design and Technology

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The BMW M4’s interior is a very nice place to be and from the second you open the door you’ll noticed that there’s a healthy blend of sports car and racecar DNA baked in at its core. That said, there’s also subtle reminders that the M4 is capable of being a daily driver too. The sports seats, for example, might look uncomfortable at first given their sculpted, supportive design, but they are much more comfortable than they look. The leather-wrapped circular steering wheel, as opposed to a flat-bottom wheel, is alost a nice bit of contrast among the impressive design of the interior.

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Outside of this, you’ll find that there’s plenty of carbon fiber trim, and the two-tone interior layout (save for the seats, of course) is oddly attractive.

The digital instrument cluster offers just the right brightness that you can see it during the day but won’t blind you at night. In the rear, we found it very impressive that BMW has managed to provide a decent amount of support for rear passengers. The seatbacks are very flat, but the raised center portion of the seat bench does help keep rear passengers in place during spirited driving. Larger people trying to get into the rear might need a little pushing as it’s not that easy to get in the rear, but it’s not bad.

How Much Passenger Space Does the BMW M4 Have?

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The BMW M4 might have a rear seat, but looking at the dimensions it’s clear to see that it’s meant to be a driver’s car with passengers almost coming as an afterthought. In the front, you get 39.8 inches of headroom, 42.2 inches of leg room, and 55.3 inches of shoulder room. These figures beat out the front passenger area of the Audi RS5 and AMG C63 S, with exception of the RS5’s 55.7 inches of shoulder room. The front passenger area, however, is inferior in every metric starting with 36.1 inches of rear headroom, 33.7 inches of legroom, and 51.7 inches of shoulder room. Check out the table below to see the full comparison between the M4 and its main competitors.

BMW M4 vs competition interior specifications
BMW M4 Audi RS5 Mercedes-AMG C63 S
1st Row Headroom 39.8 37.8 37.1
1st Row Leg Room 42.2 41.3 35.2
1st Row Shoulder Room 55.3 55.7 55.3
1st Row Hip Room TBA TBA TBA
2nd Row Headroom 36.1 37 37.1
2nd Row Leg Room 33.7 35.1 41.7
2nd Row Shoulder Room 51.7 54.5 55
2nd Row Hip Room TBA TBA TBA

How Much Cargo Room Does the BMW M4 Have?

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The BMW M4 might be a hardcore performer on the road, but there’s one thing that it really doesn’t excel at, and that’s cargo room, with a total capacity of just 11 cubic-feet. It is inferior compared to the competition, with the AMG C63 S giving you 12.6 cubic feet and the Audi RS5 giving you as much as 35 cubic-feet if your fold down the rear seats or 21.8 cubic feet with the seats up.

How Is the BMW M4’s Technology?

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BMW’s infotainment system is one of the best in the business at any price point. The system’s interface is both powerfully responsive and easy-to-read in any light letting. Phone integration is super easy, but that only holds true if you’re using an Apple device. Voice recognition and controls picks up natural speech and dictation quite well, however, if you speak with a very heavy accent or perhaps even a certain dialect you may not find it to be the most responsive.

In terms of safety, the BMW M4 is pretty well equipped. The best stuff, like a top-view camera, blind-spot monitoring, and proximity sensors are all optional add-ons. The standard stability control system works well most of the time, but you’ll find that it intervenes fairly regularly and very bumpy roads can overwhelm or confuse it, especially when you’re putting the hammer down.

2021 BMW M4 Exterior Design

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2021 BMW M4 - Driven Exterior
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Your first reaction to the BMW M4 is probably to ask “why?” Why the hell did BMW go with such a massive bucktooth grille and why the hell does the company continue to justify it despite the mass amount of negative feedback? After spending some time with the M4 you’ll find that the design actually starts to grow on you. Sure, it’s different, and sure people will hate on it at first glance, but if you’re an actual customer, the M4 grows on your quite quickly. In fact, there’s a lot of delicious sportscar DNA behind that grille and, at some point, it really doesn’t matter what the nose looks like. After a few days, most of the Topspeed staff even started to favor the design. Perhaps it’s time for a second look?

How Big is the BMW M4?

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The BMW M4 is a compact car, but it sits on the higher side of the compact segment, measuring 184 inches long, 73.6 inches wide, and 54.4 inches tall. It also rides on a 110.7 inch wheelbase. These figures actually make it just a bit smaller than both the Audi RS5 and the Mercedes-AMG C63 S, and the smaller wheelbase means that it doesn’t handle quite as well, either, despite being several hundred pounds lighter. In terms of garaging, the M4 will fit in most garages, but smaller one-car garages will probably be a tight fight if not in depth in width. So, it would be best to measure out your parking area in the garage if you have a smaller unit. Check out the table below to see how the M4 compares to the RS5 and C63 S in detail.

BMW M4 vs competition exterior dimensions
BMW M4 Audi RS5 Mercedes-AMG C63 S
Length 184.5 188.3 187.3
Width 73.6 73.5 72.4
Height 54.4 55.1 56.1
Wheelbase 110.7 111.3 111.8
Front Track 63.66 62.9 63.4
Rear Track 63.19 62.5 60.9

2021 BMW M4 Pricing

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The BMW M4 carries a price tag of $71,800, which makes it $3,600 cheaper than the Audi RS5 and $4,400 cheaper than the AMG C63 S. There are a number of available options to make the M4 more expensive, but the main offerings include the $800 Parking Assistance Package, $2,800 Executive Package, the $3.800 M Carbon Bucket Seats, and the $8,150 M Carbon Ceramic Brakes.

BMW M4 Competition

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While large vehicles have slowly taken over the auto market, the BMW M4 isn’t without some stout competition. This includes the Audi RS5 and the Mercedes-AMG C63 S, both of which are more powerful but come with their own downsides that make this a very tight comparison.

Is the BMW M4 Better Than the Audi RS5?

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The Audi RS5 isn’t quite as new as the M4, but it still boasts a very attractive and somewhat aggressive look. Despite the lack of controversy surrounding the nose, the RS5 isn’t without a large grille either. In its defense, however, the sleek headlights and bulky corner air intakes help to offset the look of the front end a bit. A lot of people tend to argue that the RS5 looks better despite its age, but there’s a lot to say about personal opinion. The interior of the RS5 is on par with what BMW offers. You’ll find plenty of leather with contrasts stitching and a driver-centric cabin. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit pairs up nicely with the infotainment display and, even though it doesn’t have as much of a sports car feel inside, the flat-bottom steering wheel goes a long way to giving you that feeling when you sit in the driver’s seat.

Under the hood, the Audi RS5 pumps out 444 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque from a 2.9-liter V-6. Sent exclusively through an eight-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels, you’ll make the sprint to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. Top speed comes in at 155 mph, but with the right configuration and selection of options, Audi will raise that limit to 174 mph. It’s not quite as fast as the M4 with the M Driver’s Package at 180 mph, but you’re probably not going to go that fast anyway so this point in negligible at best. The RS5 does garner slightly better fuel economy at 18 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 21 mpg combined. All of this comes with an MSRP of $75,400, which makes the RS5 a bit more expensive than the M4 but, potentially, a better car for you.

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Read our full review on the Audi RS5

Is the BMW M4 Better Than the Mercedes AMG C63 S?

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Of all the compact sports coupes on the market, the Mercedes-AMG C63 S is probably the most humble in terms of exterior design. The airdam is thin but is integrated with the smaller corner air intakes. The radiator grill actually fits the shape and size of the car and the larger headlights work really well from an appearance standpoint thanks to their sunk integration into the corners. The interior is clearly inspired by the AMG GT with the circular vents, high-sitting center console, and the flat-bottom steering wheel. The technology doesn’t look quite as fresh as it does in the M4, but you’ll find the infotainment system is also one of the best in the business.

Under the hood sits a beefy, hand-built, 4.0-liter V-8, and this is probably what makes the C63 S stand out ahead of the M4 and RS5. It pumps out 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, all of which is channeled through a nine-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels. Fuel economy is, surprisingly, better than what you get in the M4 at 18 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway, and 21 mpg combined, while the sprint to 60 mph takes just 3.8 seconds. Top speed is pinned at 180 mph, putting the C63 S on par with the M4 with the M Driver’s Package. If you want that feel and sound of the V-8, however, it won’t come cheap. You’ll have to pay a little over $4,000 extra over the M4, with the entry price kicking off at $76,200.

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BMW M4 vs Mercedes-AMG C63 S
BMW M4 Mercedes-AMG C63 S
Engine 3.0-Liter Inline-Six 4.0-Liter V-8
Fuel Premium Premium
Horsepower 425 @ 5500 503 @ 5500
Torque 406 LB-FT @ 1850 516 LB-FT @ 1750
Transmission 6MT 9AT
Drive RWD RWD
Fuel Economy 17/23/19 18/27/21
Curb Weight 3625 LBS 3900 LBS
Fuel Capacity 15.8 17.4
0-60 MPH 4.1 (3.8 AT) 3.8
Top Speed 155 MPH (180 M Drivers) 180 MPH

Read our full review on the Mercedes AMG C63 S

Final Thoughts

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At the first glance, we too, were not very thrilled about the BMW M4’s design. It looks a little better in person than it does in pictures, but you really need to spend a couple of days looking at it for it to really grow on you. Or, at the very least, drive it, even if it’s for a short trip. The responsiveness of the engine, thrill of shifting your own gears, and feeling you get behind the wheel will quickly make you forget that you had a problem with that big German nose up front.

Philippe Daix
Philippe Daix
Obsessive and Compulsive Automotive Expert - phil@topspeed.com
Always on the lookout for the latest automotive news, Philippe Daix is our most senior editor and founder of TopSpeed.com. He likes to see himself as a consumer advocate with a mission to educate motorheads of all ages.  Read full bio
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