One of the best things about Southern California is convertible weather graces its skies pretty much all-year-round. Even if a high of 62 degrees Fahrenheit might not be the most suitable convertible weather, it certainly beats far colder climates by a long shot. Which is why when the opportunity to review the 2022 BMW M4 Competition Convertible came up in late December, I had to jump at it.
I wasn’t just excited to savor mildly fitting convertible weather, I also wanted to see what the Competition’s upgrades over the base G80 M3 and G80 M4 felt like. I drove its sibling the G80 M3 last summer and generally liked it, but I wasn’t terribly impressed by it. Mainly because of how heavy it felt, and how over-boosted its steering was. My hopes were pretty simple and straightforward: that the Competition part of this M4’s badge would solve these qualms.
However, I was a little concerned that the convertible aspect might not be the best way to determine if my qualms were solved. You know, since there’s a lot of chassis-stiffening metal missing from the top of it.
Luckily that wasn’t the case. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by how much of a major plus this turned out to be. This Brooklyn Grey Metallic 2022 BMW M4 Competition Convertible starts at $86,300, then after $19,800 options and a $995 destination charge, it’s total all-day price comes out to $107,095.
This M4 Possesses Pleasing Looks Top-Up Or Top-Down
Let’s get the new M4’s face out of the way. Yes, it’s not ideal, but as I found in my review of the M3, it’s better in-person. OK, moving on.
The rest of the M4 Competition’s shape is rather excellent. I dig its wide wheel arches, multi-spoke 825M bi-color wheels, quad exhaust tips, and generally aggressive all-around looks. It’s dimensionally massive, though what car in its class currently isn’t? I think the soft top helps it look a tad smaller than the hardtop, though, and while soft tops aren’t always ideal for overall looks, I actually prefer the shape of the roof and C pillar (I guess you call it a pillar, even if it has no structural integrity?) over the metal-top’s.
Top-down, I think the M4 Comp looks excellent. All four seats sit quite low, and the way the beltline cuts uniformly across its sides looks quite neat. Plus, the wheel arches turn into legitimate shelves with the top down, which don’t have any shelving-type benefits, but help accentuate its curvy, high-performance sportscar appeal. Dare I even say the dropped top even helps its front grille a tad? I can’t quite explain why, but I think it does. This tester’s added $950 Carbon Fiber trim looks brilliant against its gray exterior and silver/black wheel. Plus, the way its Kyalami Orange leather interior pops against its body looks quite wild. In a good way.
The M4 Competition Possesses The Best Performance Interior This Side Of $150K
I said this about the new M3, and thankfully this M4 Competition Convertible is no different: this is one of the most spacious and tall-folk-friendly cars I’ve ever had the pleasure of driving. The fit is spacious and anatomically on-point, like a nicely tailored suit. Between where the pedals are, how far back the front seat can go, to the steering wheel’s size and ability to tilt and telescope, the M4’s interior is a breath of fresh air for those who might have trouble fitting in other sports cars.
This M4 is by far the most tall-folk-friendly convertible, too. At least in my experience. No, there’s no punchline here about the roof being absent and therefore having all the headroom in the world. Because you’re able to sit so low, your head is always amply below the top of the windshield. This is reassuring in the event of a rollover and for the sake of cutting down on wind noise. Because there’s so much adjustability in the M4’s seats, even non-tall-folk would find it to be quite commodious, too.
Then, there’s the M4 Competition’s race-seat-like $3,800 M Carbon Bucket seats. These are a bit tight if your waist is anywhere north of 36 inches, and they can be a pain to crawl in and out of. But once you’re in they’re so incredibly comfortable. Tilted just the right amount, they feel like a high-end, fixed-back racing seat, and stay comfortable after hours of twisty road driving.
Elsewhere in the M4 Competition’s luxurious cabin, it’s all soft-touch leather, thick rubber bits here and there, substantial buttons that are unfortunately finished in glossy piano black plastic, and BMW’s latest and greatest iDrive system. Thankfully, getting to crucial iDrive screens is a snap via actual, physical buttons, and it’s all completely absent of lag. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and BlueTooth are standard, and the Harman Kardon sound system absolutely bumps.
I was concerned about wind noise with the top-up while trying to listen to music and podcasts, but weirdly, there were no downsides. The acoustics are great, and when the exhaust is set to loud mode (more on that in a bit), you can hear it much more clearly than if there were glass and steel separating the exhaust tips from your ear canals. Then, with the top down, the M4’s glorious twin-turbo inline-6 roar can be heard so incredibly well.
One Of The All-Time Greatest Engines
If there’s one thing to help consumers look past the new M4 and M3’s massive, angry Sea Lamprey face, it’s what’s mounted up far behind it. I say far, because there’s quite a lot of cooling going on in between, hence the need for its massive grilles. Back there lives a twin-turbo, 3.0-liter S58 inline-6 which produces 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. These are astonishing figures for just three liters. Though, when this convertible’s curb weight is factored in, it doesn’t sound ideal at first.
It's 4,398 pounds. That’s right, there’s over two tons worth of steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, leather, plastic, and anger bolted and glued together to create this drop-top beast. That sounds like a lot, and it is.
But weirdly, you absolutely do not notice it all that much behind the wheel. Sure, rolling around it feels weighed down, solid, and secure. But as far as fun goes, it’s got this in spades.
Ripping to 60 mph from a stop takes just 3.7 seconds, and the quarter mile comes and goes in a measly 11.4 seconds. Not bad for an all-wheel drive (with optional rear-wheel drive, more on that later) sports car that weighs as much as a new Toyota Highlander. The M4 Competition coupe weighs in at 3,880 pounds, a whole 518 pounds lighter. Yikes.
The M4's automatic gearbox is excellent. Its close-ratio 8-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox is a welcome change from the last generation’s dual-clutch automatic. It possesses all the benefits of a quick-shifting dual-clutch, with none of the downsides, like taking forever to slip the clutch while shifting between drive and reverse. The M2 CS annoyed the hell out of me with this.
Then, with your foot to the floor, it bangs off shifts in such quick succession, that, combined with its solid ride, make it feel like you’re truly going from 0-60 in 3.7 seconds all the time. This classic measurement doesn’t seem like it’s just reserved for hard launches that are devoid of mechanical sympathy. And then above 60 MPH the gearing and acceleration doesn’t stop. 6-8 are geared fairly long, which makes both chill cruising and ravenous highway raging an utter treat.
The reason for the M4’s added weight is a combination of chassis stiffening and the mechanism that actuates the quick-folding soft top. The former is eyebrow-raising—does this mean the sloppy handling that convertibles often have is gone with this open-air M4 Comp? I’ve driven the latest Z4 M40i, and was disappointed that its handling was a bit too wet-noodly. There’s just not enough metal in the structure to be nice n’ stiff (pro-tip: buy a new GR Supra instead).
Yet another surprise: the drop-top M4’s handling is not adversely affected by its non-metallic-roof status.
Sharp Handling, Steering, And Braking
BMW’s method of adding weight certainly paid off, as the M4 Competition Convertible is a joy in the corners. Without a doubt, that might be the weirdest statement I’ve ever written. Body roll and flex are nearly non-existent in its sportier driving modes, and grip is very good at all four corners. You feel a little extra cowl shake going over bumps while cornering, but otherwise the chassis feels plenty stiff.
I had so much fun blasting through my favorite corners up in Angeles National Forest, and was at ease with traction and stability control completely turned off. This was with temperatures hovering around 45 degree Fahrenheit, too, as it gets quite a bit colder up in the mountains than in the LA Basin. Despite this, with careful inputs and close attention paid to the M4’s communicative chassis, its 275/35/19 and 285/30/20 rear Continental SportContact 6 Summer tires feel great once they’re up to temperature. The rear-end is especially well-planted, as it took some very erratic throttle and steering combinations to get it to slide around. Though, burying my right foot from a standstill did the job just fine, too, and it was grand fun.
Most of this was due to the M4 Competition's xDrive all-wheel drive. It has wonderful grip and feels very confident through high-speed corners. Though, what's absolutely brilliant about this system is it can be configured to rear-wheel drive only in the right mode. This means that epic, tire-melting slides and donuts are just the press of a button away. BMW makes it very easy to toggle between all-wheel drive with stability control on, to no-holds-barred, nanny-less rear-wheel drive with two M Custom buttons right on the top of the steering wheel.
My major qualm with the base 2021 M3 was its steering. It was so over-boosted and had such a quick ratio that it did not feel confident at high speeds and in the corners. Thankfully, that’s solved with the Competition package as the weight and ratio are very good. It feels very confident, although there really isn’t much going on in terms of steering feel. That’s something I’ve gotten used to with modern Bimmers, though.
Combine its solid steering, brilliant power, and snug, well-bolstered seats, I could’ve stayed in a trance of horsepower and high-strung inline-6 noise all day.
And what a noise it was. The S58 is nearly a race engine in the way it gains and loses revs, and absolutely screams in the higher revs with its exhaust system fully opened up. I couldn’t get enough of its blessed tone. If I had to choose one engine’s symphony to live with for the rest of my mortal existence, this angry three-liter would be in top contention as the one. And having either Mother Nature’s open realm or a soft-top overhead is the best way to experience it.
Reigning in the M4 Competition’s immense speed was never any issue for the M4’s truly massive 400x38mm front and 380x28mm rear ceramic brakes. They stayed strong all day, got a little loud when hot (which wasn’t a bad thing in my opinion), and pedal feel was perfect. They weren’t grabby at any point as pedal travel had a nice progression to it. Combined with great steering and a lot of power behind the right pedal, dancing with all three was too much fun.
For a car that’s been such a point of contention since its massive face was unveiled a few years back, the M4 Competition Convertible really is a riot.
Ignore The Face And Drop The Top
My week with the 2022 BMW M4 Competition Convertible had a few pleasant surprises. While I was looking forward to some top-down motoring, I wasn’t sure how the convertible’s handling would pan out. While the 4,398-pound curb weight was a bit of a shocker at first, rest assured the thing still absolutely rips.
Besides any subjective styling qualms that some might hold for a convertible super sports car like the G82 M4, there’s not much else to dislike elsewhere. It still turns, accelerates, brakes, and handles quite well like its hardtop siblings, and lets more noise in to boot.
Then, as far as road and wind noise go, those aren’t really a concern either, as it’s still amply insulated at highway speeds with the top up. Top-down there’s obviously a bit more noise, but with the windows up it’s really not that bad. Plus, if you’re inclined to attempt keeping it wide open in cooler weather, I can confidently affirm that its M Carbon Buckets have excellent heating.