I’ll just come out and say it: I’m starting to like that massive grille. The cartoonish enormous intakes start to make more visual sense when paired with this 2022 BMW M4 Competition Convertible’s hyper-aggressive front aero, low hood, and dark trim than they do on the conservative, non-M variant. At the very least, I understand the intent of BMW’s designers. However, I favor the previous fascia and am concerned about the iX and Concept XM’s design future.
The new M4 Convertible joins the M4 Coupe and M3 Sedan in BMW’s M vehicle lineup, completing this section. (For the time being, there is no M4 Gran Coupe.) The M4 Convertible is only available in Competition trim and with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system, whilst the coupe and sedan are available with rear-wheel drive. Sure, it makes configuration easier, but it also makes the open-air version more expensive, to begin with.
The retractable fabric roof, which we’ve seen on past 4 Series drop-tops, is the largest distinction between the M4 Convertible and its fixed-roof siblings. A dance of panels and fabric is triggered by pressing a button on the center console, folding the roof into the trunk in 18 seconds (and returning just as quickly). When the top is down, the M4 loses around 3 of its 13.6 cubic feet of trunk capacity. The motorized roof is roughly 40% lighter than the previous generation’s hardtop and can be operated at speeds up to 31 mph. Thanks to many layers of insulation and sleek, flush-mounted back glass, it also keeps wind noise to a minimum at highway speeds.
Only basic black and a glossy moonlit black are offered for the roof. The paint, on the other hand, comes in a rainbow of brilliant colors, ranging from the gonzo Sao Paulo yellow to the Isle of Man green in this case. Colorful extras such as the fitted Kyalami orange M Sport Merino leather seats, which are more comfortable than the available $3,800 M Carbon bucket seat for daily driving and grand touring, can be added to the cockpit. These base seats can be upgraded with vents that blast warm air over your neck and shoulders, making the M4 a real four-season convertible when combined with a heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated front seats.
The M4 Convertible comes standard with a beefier version of BMW’s twin-turbo 3.0-liter I6, which produces 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, which is 30 more horsepower and 73 more twisties than the non-Competition model. That’s more than enough power to overcome the cabriolet’s 327-pound curb weight advantage over a similarly equipped xDrive Competition Coupe. The convertible is nearly as accurate as of the coupe, and it accelerates to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds vs 3.4 seconds for the coupe. The fact that you can hear the sports exhaust snarl more clearly with the top down is a great bonus.
A standard 8-speed automatic transmission and xDrive AWD are on the business end of that power plant. The M4 may be set to rear-wheel drive via the options, but it isn’t required for a fun time. Under normal conditions, BMW has calibrated the drivetrain and various aid technologies to act and feel like a rear-drive car. With no “xDrive” logos on display, you’d be forgiven for forgetting this is an AWD vehicle until the extra traction is needed in the rain or during an evasive maneuver. I came close to doing it.
The M4 Competition Convertible has staggered wheels and performance tires up front, with 275/35ZR19s and 285/30ZR20s. Under the spokes, large vented discs with painted calipers and M Compound pads protrude out. Carbon-ceramic brakes are an $8,150 option, but given the convertible’s GT attitude and my conviction that most ceramic brakes aren’t worth the money (even on track-driven vehicles), they’re a no-brainer.
The standard Adaptive M Suspension keeps the rubber on the road, going from surprisingly soft and pleasant to razor-sharp sharp and stiff at the touch of a button. For anything save the most well-maintained roads and track days, I’d recommend keeping in the former mode. With good input and a satisfying-feeling, heavy steering wheel, the M4’s handling leaves little to be desired.
I enjoy toying with driving modes as a devotee of automotive technology, but the M4’s various and overlapping M Drive settings bewildered me.
Drivers can customize three engine response modes, three suspension settings, three levels of stability control, at least six transmission shift modes, steering, braking, xDrive system, exhaust sound, stop/start system, and multiple themes for the digital instrument cluster and optional HUD by going into the menus. On top of that, there are two M Drive modes — Road and Sport — controlled by a console button… and two M1 and M2 preset modes accessed via steering-wheel buttons.
It’s often difficult to discern what mode the automobile is in. Is it true that switching to M Sport mode overrides the M2 settings? Who can say?!
The installed M Drive Professional package, a $900 option that adds a third M Track mode and M Traction Control with ten degrees of adjustment, adds to the complexity of my test car (among other things). Maybe the dentist who buys it will be able to identify the difference between all ten phases, but I doubt they’ll require that much precision.
I eventually settled on designing and saving presets to the M1 and M2 buttons on the steering wheel (one for moderate-spirited driving, the other for wild driving), then switching between them and the default Comfort mode. This is definitely the easiest method to prevent being confused or distracted by the numerous menu options.
Unless you plan on visiting the track, I’d also recommend foregoing the M Drive Professional package. (Though let’s be honest, you’re probably considering the lighter and faster M4 Coupe rather than the cabriolet.) You can also forego the $2,500 M Driver’s Package; you might love the one-day performance driving class, but you won’t be able to take advantage of the increased speed limiter from 155 to 174 mph.
The BMW M4’s dashboard features a 12.3-inch Live Cockpit Professional digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch central screen with BMW’s iDrive infotainment software version 7.0. Touch, natural language voice command via “Hey BMW” hotword recognition, BMW’s strange gesture system, or the center console’s iDrive control knob are all options for controlling the primary screen.
Onboard navigation comes standard with live traffic and on-street parking search and reservation in select cities. (Unfortunately, my San Francisco Bay Area suburb isn’t one of them.) Thanks to cleverly arranged menus, quick reaction to inputs, a deeply customizable home screen, and smart features and applications, the iDrive interface are better than ever. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come included with both WiFi and USB Type-A connectivity if you’d rather bring your own apps.
The M4 Convertible comes standard with BMW’s Active Driving Assistant package, which includes forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, low-speed automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and lane departure warning, among other features.
More safety intervention capabilities, such as lane-keeping steering help, lane change assist, and emergency evasive steering aid, are available with the $1,700 Driving Assistance Pro package. Checking this box also adds Extended Traffic Jam Assistant capabilities to the normal dynamic cruise control, allowing for partially autonomous hands-free steering in stop-and-go traffic up to 40 mph, as long as the cameras can detect you looking at the road. If you go faster than that, you’ll have to put your hands back on the steering wheel.
This example also included an $800 Parking Assistance package (with semi-automated parallel and perpendicular parking assistance) and an onboard Drive Recorder that functions similarly to a 360-degree dashcam, or Tesla’s Sentry feature, and records video of the vehicle’s surroundings, as well as speed and GPS data, whether the vehicle is parked or on the move.
The base price of the 2022 BMW M4 Convertible is $87,295, plus $995 for the destination. That’s $14,300 more than a base M4 Coupe, but only $7,300 more than a Competition xDrive-equipped M4 Coupe. This example checked nearly every item in the configurator, resulting in a final price of $104,295 when tested. Yikes! I wish BMW would make a less expensive M4 Convertible with rear-wheel drive and manual transmission, but I understand why they don’t. Performance drop-tops are perhaps the only vehicle class in the United States where sales are declining faster than sedans.
As a result, the new M4 is up against very stiff competition. The Mercedes-AMG C63 S Cabriolet is the most direct competitor, but the Lexus LC 500 Convertible could be added to the mix to keep things interesting. Both slant toward the comfort end of the grand touring spectrum, while the M4 is in a unique track-focused position due to the lack of an Audi RS5 Cabriolet and the Porsche 911 being in a whole other pricing bracket.
You may disagree with me on the grill (as do many of my coworkers), but the BMW M4 Convertible is a far superior vehicle to the type it replaces. The new soft top is lighter than the previous retractable hardtop, but it makes nearly no concessions. The cabin technology keeps improving. It’s a better performance than previously, with a far more interesting driving experience, and it’s one of the best (and only) options for this niche.