The latest BMW M4 Convertible arrives to a very different market than its predecessors. Audi refuses to sell an RS5 Convertible, and Mercedes has swung the axe on the C63 Convertible, leaving this 500-horsepower droptop living as a segment of one.
Without the benefit of rival entries competing for customer dollars, BMW could have gotten lazy in crafting the M4 Convertible (now available exclusively as an all-wheel-drive, auto-only Competition model). And yet, all the work on the M4 and 4 Series Convertible independent of each other pays dividends when they're put together. There might not be any direct alternatives, but even if there were, this droptop M4 would be difficult to say no to.
Gallery: 2022 BMW M4 Competition Convertible: Pros And Cons
Just A Very Nice Convertible
This isn’t strictly specific to the M4, but there's a lot to like about the 4 Series’ convertible and its new fabric roof (outside of its relaxed 18-second operating time). The stout chassis showed no signs of cowl shake during my week at the wheel, and with the top up, the M4 did a fine job isolating the cabin. Even on a blustery summer day, I didn't notice an abundance of wind noise while driving at highway speeds. With the roof stowed and windows down, the M4 still maintains solid control of buffeting – the M4 won't beat you up for opening the cabin to the elements.
Show Off The Seats
I applaud the mad lads at BMW for offering ultra–high-performance sport seats in a vehicle like this. I've raved about the chairs before, but they work here not because of the support provided while cornering but because of how damn cool they look with the top down. The carbon fiber–backed buckets are unmatched as a piece of jewelry. Roof down, the carbon fiber and contrasting color – black and beige on the front seats, straight beige in back – present a very neat image to passing traffic.
Give Up Little
Convertibles always demand a performance sacrifice, but the M4 gives up little after lopping the top off. It retains the same twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six, eight-speed automatic, and xDrive all-wheel-drive system, with 60 miles per hour arriving in just 3.6 seconds. That's only two-tenths off the hardtop M4 Competition Coupe, despite this convertible adding 327 pounds of fat. Handling is quite sharp too, with the same super-quick steering and responsive chassis.
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Where's The Noise?
For an M car, it's amazing how quiet the M4 is with the roof down. If you don't set the drive mode just so (Sport Plus for the engine, Active Sound engaged), the 3.0-liter engine sounds nothing like the performance-focused mill it really is. If the M4 isn't programmed properly, your ears will be missing out even under heavy throttle. An M car with refinements is a good thing, but with the M4, it feels like the company went a few steps too far.
Overcomplex Drive Settings With Little Real Benefit
BMW's M1 and M2 buttons on the steering wheel are great. Programmed via iDrive, owners need only dive into the system once to grant quick-access to their own personalized drive settings. The action feels fantastic and I love the ability to shift the car's setup on the fly. But I don't understand why they had to come at the expense of pre-set drive modes. Why can’t we have the M1/M2 buttons and Eco, Comfort, Sport, etc? It feels like change for the sake of it.
There’s a somewhat similar problem happening with My Mode. I see that button and I think, “Hey, there’s another customizable drive mode. Great!” The reality is that My Mode has no actual bearing on the suspension stiffness or steering weight. One press simply changes the layout of the instrument cluster (to a better one for sporty driving, to be clear) and relaxes some of the active safety systems. This is good in theory, but why not link such a system to – wait for it – preset drive modes? If the new drive systems are change for the sake of change, My Mode is a button for the sake of a button.
Great, But Where’s Purist’s Model?
Listen, the M4 is at its fastest in Competition form with all-wheel drive and an automatic transmission. There’s no getting around that fact, regardless of what the roof’s made of. And with the Convertible representing such a small segment of M4 production, I get why BMW is offering this 500-horsepower droptop in exactly one flavor. But for a company that’s made much hey about how North America is keeping the manual transmission alive, and which has spent the better part of its history insisting rear-drive was a prerequisite for the Ultimate Driving Machine, offering the M4 Convertible as an all-wheel-drive, auto-only vehicle feels antithetical to what we’ve spent decades knowing about BMW and BMW M (even if it is darn great).
2022 BMW M4 Competition xDrive Convertible