BMW M4 Competition Package review - does it fix the M4's faults?
The Competition Package is a significant improvement on the base model and it represents excellent value for money
The BMW M4 Competition Package is the first significant upgrade to the BMW M3 and M4 range since the cars were launched early in 2014. Available on all derivatives – saloon, coupe and convertible – the package brings more power, new suspension components and wheels, mild styling revisions and additional equipment.
The base M3 and M4 models have been criticised for their very spikey and unpredictable handling at the limit, which BMW’s M division engineers have worked to rectify with the raft of chassis upgrades.
Engine, transmission and 0-60mph time
The 3-litre straight six with twin turbochargers are carried over, but a 19bhp hike lifts peak power to 444bhp. Torque is unchanged at 406lb ft at 1850rpm.
The extra power cuts a tenth of a second from the 0-62mph times – the M3 and M4 Coupe with the optional seven-speed M Double Clutch Transmission now reach 62mph in four seconds flat, while a manual M4 Convertible requires 4.5 seconds. Top speeds are still limited to 155mph.
Power is sent rearwards via an Active M Differential, which has been retuned to improve traction, as has the dynamic stability control system.
The Competition Package brings new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, which represents a comprehensive overhaul of the base car’s chassis. BMW says the various drive modes – Comfort, Sport and Sport+ – have also been reconfigured and adaptive dampers are now standard fit.
The 20-inch wheels, which mimic the M4 GTS’s wheel design, have been optimised for weight and rigidity. The Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres are 265/30 20s on the front and 285/30 20s on the rear.
The cabin now features lightweight sports seats with sizeable bolsters and seat belts with the BMW M colours woven into them. The Individual Shadow Line exterior styling upgrade is standard fit, as is the M sports exhaust system.
What’s it like to drive?
The upgraded exhaust brings a more vocal character on start-up and at idle, but from within the cabin the soundtrack is still dominated by the synthesised engine note, while pops and crackles on the overrun are only a little more prominent than before.
Although the lightweight sports seats do clamp you very firmly in place, their lack of lumbar support does cause some discomfort over longer journeys. Otherwise, though, the driving position remains close to perfect.
With more spring rate and sizeable 20-inch wheels the M4 Competition Package does ride more firmly than the standard car and tyre roar on the motorway has been ramped up a notch, too. This remains a very useable everyday car, though, and the ride doesn’t ever become intolerable.
The payback, however, is that the rear end of the car is now much better controlled than before. Early M3s and M4s felt wayward over crests and undulations, but the Competition Package upgrade has tied the rear end down much more tautly. You can now send the car into a sequence of bends and over humps and bumps without having to give it time to gather itself.
The other dynamic issue we and many other observers had of the M3 and M4 was the abrupt torque delivery. With so much twist available from such low engine speeds the rear tyres were very readily overwhelmed, even on a dry road, and much the same is true of the Competition Package model. The solution is to rely on the very effective stability control system, or otherwise short shift through the first three gears.
The front axle still refuses to understeer, which gives the car enormous pace down a road, and body control has been improved, too.
The optional carbon ceramic brakes are superb, both in terms of feel and stopping power, and the electrically-assisted steering is crisp and direct without ever flooding your finger tips with feel. The twin turbocharged straight six, meanwhile, is almost lag-free and very linear in its power delivery, although it still lacks the intensity and soundtrack of the old normally-aspirated V8.
The twin-clutch gearbox, meanwhile, is still a very effective transmission, but the shifts times – or specifically the lag between the paddle being pulled and the actuation of the shift – are now off the pace of the very latest dual clutch gearboxes.
With 444bhp the M3 and M4 Competition Package models are now closer in terms of power output to their rivals from Mercedes-AMG, the C63 Saloon and Coupe. The entry levels models do still outgun the M cars with 469bhp, while the S versions are even more powerful still with 503bhp.
The M4 Coupe has long been considered a cut-price alternative to the Porsche 911, but with even more power. The Competition Package model undercuts and base Carrera by more than £16,000, but it easily betters the Porsche’s 361bhp.
The Competition Package carries a premium of around £3000, which represents very strong value for money. No wonder BMW expects 70 per cent of buyers to specify it.
The M4 Competition Package costs £60,055, while the upgraded M4 Convertible is £63,350 and the M3 saloon £59,595.