Lean ’15 BMW M4 returns to inline-6

A yellow/gold finish adds flair to 2015 BMW M4 Coupe. (Bud Wells photos)

A yellow/gold finish adds flair to 2015 BMW M4 Coupe. (Bud Wells photos)

Compliments seemed to follow this special new car all over the place.

It’s the 2015 BMW M4 Coupe, which previously was designated the M3. BMW, though, has separated its 3 series four-door sedans from the coupes, which now are known as the 4 series.

Thus, the ’15 version of the super-handling, performance two-door is the M4.

To further distinguish the new one, BMW has returned its traditional 3.0-liter inline-6-cylinder engine, this one a 425-horsepower twin-power turbo, beneath the hood. It replaces a 414-hp, 4.0-liter V-8. The new inline-6, mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, boasts 406 lb.-ft. of torque, and exceeds low-end acceleration of the former V-8.

Though the 2015 M4 is 2 inches longer in wheelbase and overall length than the previous M, heavy use of carbon fiber and aluminum have lightened curb weight of the coupe by 170 pounds. The prevalence of carbon fiber usage is most visible at the molded roof panel and, with the hood open, the strange-looking, half-loop strut brace.

An eyecatcher beneath the hood is the half-loop carbon fiber strut brace.

An eyecatcher beneath the hood is the half-loop carbon fiber strut brace.

“Great-looking car,” “nice wheels,” “beautiful Bimmer,” were typical of comments heard wherever I parked it last week in Denver and northern Colorado.

Even the color, labeled Austin yellow metallic but seemingly tinting a bit to the gold or green shade, drew generally favorable reaction.

The M4’s sound, enhanced with electrically actuated flaps in the exhaust pipes, doesn’t compare with the awesome roar emitted by the 560-horsepower V-8 in the ’13 M6 Coupe I tested two years ago.

Other than its priceiness, there are not a lot of negatives associated with it. Its performance is a blast, and it is one of the better-handling coupes in the country.

Dual-scroll turbos generate tremendous torque for the inline-6, and the 7-speed automatic offers quick shifts, paddle controls and a launch-control program for track time. Throttle response and suspension stiffness are controlled by comfort, sport and sport-plus settings. EPA fuel-mileage estimate has taken a big jump to 17/24 from the old V-8’s rating of 14/20. My overall average with the M4 was 21.2.

The lengthened wheelbase and upgraded suspension, brakes and other underparts mean the M4 has a very wide turn circle of 40 feet, 3 feet longer than a standard BMW 3 or 4 series model.

Wheels sport gold brake calipers and large rotors.

Wheels sport gold brake calipers and large rotors.

The sleek coupe shows off a hood bulge up front and quad tailpipes at the rear, with gold-painted calipers standing out against each of the large brake rotors at the wheels.

Inside, bolstered white perforated leather seats are mounted low into the cabin. A thick, stitched leather-covered steering wheel and short shifter knob await guidance from the pilot. Rear seats are comfortable, with some tightness of legroom.

Here’s how the M4 goes from its base price of $64,200 to a sticker total of $86,200:

$8,150 for M carbon ceramic brakes, in which fixed-caliper brakes are fitted to the front and rear axles with four pistons at the front and two at the rear, instead of single-piston sliding calipers; $4,000 for heated steering wheel, rearview camera, retractable headlight washers, park-distance control, head-up display, satellite radio; $2,900 for the 7-speed double-clutch transmission (a 6-speed manual is standard); $1,900 for adaptive full LED lights, with automatic high beams; $1,200 for 19-inch black wheels; $1,000 for adaptive M suspension; $875 for Harman Kardon sound system; $550 for the yellow metallic exterior finish; $500 for enhanced Bluetooth and Smartphone, and $925 for destination charge.

Here are the specifications for the ’15 BMW M4 Coupe:

  • Capacity 4-passenger
  • Wheelbase 110.7 inches
  • Length 183.9 inches
  • Width 73.6 inches
  • Height 56.4 inches
  • Curb Weight 3,585 pounds
  • Track 62.2 inches front, 63.1 rear
  • Ground Clearance 4.8 inches
  • Turn Circle 40 feet
  • Drivetrain Rear-wheel-drive
  • Engine 3.0-liter twinpower turbo inline-6-cylinder
  • Horsepower/Torque 425/406
  • Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
  • Steering electromechanical
  • Fuel mileage estimate 17/24
  • Fuel mileage average 21.2
  • Fuel Tank 15.8 gallons, unleaded premium
  • Wheels 19-inch
  • Cargo Volume 11 cubic feet
  • Warranty 4 years/50,000 miles basic, powertrain

Competitors Audi RS5, Cadillac CTS-V Coupe, Mercedes-Benz C63AMG, Lexus RC F, Porsche Boxster S

Assembly Plant Munich, Germany

Parts Content Germany 65%, U.S./Canadian 5%

Base Price of Lowest Model $64,200; Base Price of Review Model $64,200; Destination Charge $925; Sticker Price $86,200.