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Driven: BMW's epic M4 Competition Pack

2018-04-04 08:31

Image: Warren Wilson

Sean Parker

With a revised M Suspension, active differential and a smidgen more power, the M4 Competition Pack packs a punch on paper... Sean Parker tests it along two of the Western Cape's most demanding roads. 

Cape Town - 20 years ago, only the very best road cars were fitted with carbon-ceramic brakes. The fade-free brakes were reserved for hypercar royalty such as the Ferrari Enzo and the Porsche Carrera GT. 

Now think of a road car fitted with a carbon-fibre roof… and you’ll find automakers such as McLaren, Mercedes (CLK-GTR) and others who used that technology in a road car. 

Fast forward to the mid-2000s and BMW’s first and only V8-powered M3; the E92 model used a heavy V8 and therefore weight-saving measures such as a carbon-fibre roof was brought into play. 

Gallery: 17 epic pics of the BMW M4 Competition Pack in action

And now in 2018, we’ve had the M4 Competition Pack on test and it’s fitted with ceramic brakes and a carbon fibre roof, the former is used for face-changing stopping power and the second to save reduce weight. 

Power, like other M4s, is still derived from a 3.0-litre straight six turbocharged engine, producing 331kW (19 more than the standard version) and 550Nm. 

What makes the CP different? It wears spectacular 20" wheels, features an M Sport exhaust system swathed in black, the dark hue theme extends to the rear badge, mirrors, grille and window surrounds.

Lightweight bucket seats are the only change inside, thankfully they can be adjusted electronically. 

What’s it like to drive?

What better way to test the more powerful, meaner and edgier M4 on two of the Western Cape’s most famous roads - Helshoogte and Franschhoek Pass. 

To get the best out of those roads, I rose early on a Sunday morning, hurriedly chugged down some coffee and fired up the M4. Apologies to the neighbours whom I disturbed. 

Like other M models, the M4 CP has configurable settings for its dampers, engine and steering. EVERYTHING was tuned to comfort mode for the highway portion.  

The journey along the dark N1 is treacherous (because of rogue hitchhikers), but the BMW’s full LED adaptive headlights aided my quest towards the university town of Stellenbosch. 

The photographs, expertly captured by Warren Wilson, expertly captures the M4 Competition Pack on some of the Western Cape's most renowned roads. 

At the foot of Helshoogte Pass I prod the M1 button on the steering wheel that asks to confirm if I want to experience the 331kW and 550Nm in its most demanding setting. Remember all that power goes through the rear rubber. It’s an exciting prospect as the manual mode of the seven-speed dual clutch gearbox is engaged. 

EVERYTHING is in aggressive mode. The distinctive six-cylinder noise fills the cabin and I zone out to concentrate on what’s in front of me: long, sweeping kilometres of asphalt and more importantly no traffic. 

BMW claims a 0-100km/h dash, with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, in 4.0 seconds (0.1 seconds quicker than the standard model). Top speed is limited to 280km/h. It feels that quick. Maybe quicker. There’s so much torque going through the rear wheels that the M4 has no qualms about spinning its tyres in second gear.

It’s lively, visceral and consuming, like watching a Christopher Nolan film, it requires concentration. Are the stiffer anti-roll bars and the revised M Suspension with newer dampers and springs tangible when driving on demanding roads? Yes, the car feels sorted and more racer than grand tourer. The active differential also takes the experience to a different level. It’s a step up. And yes, BMW has built more intense M4s (GTS, CS and the DTM), but those are all sold. 

The drive on Franschhoek Pass requires less outright grunt and more driver input as the twisties have me climbing onto the anchors as late as possible, tugging the paddle shift to make sure I’m in the right gear to exploit the power. I haven’t heard my photographer in the back for 10 minutes and I call to find out if he’s fine. His thumbs up answer the affirmative. 

Summary

For R1 448 636, the M4 CP offers you an exhilarating driving experience, a piercing exhaust note and looks special enough to stand out among regular M cars. 

It’s a top-notch package that has the intensity of a Pep Guardiola football team when you’re driving it as close to the limit as your skill allows. It’s a good package that’s damn hard to fault.

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Read more on:    bmw  |  sean parker  |  south africa  |  new models

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