The new M4 Convertible joins the M4 Coupe and M3 Sedan, rounding out this corner of BMW’s M car lineup. (There is no M4 Gran Coupe… for now.) The M4 Convertible only comes in the potent Competition spec and is only available with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive, whereas the coupe and sedan can be had with rear-wheel drive. That simplifies configuration, sure, but it also makes the open-air variant significantly more expensive to start.
New retractable soft top
The biggest difference between the M4 Convertible and its fixed-roof siblings is a retractable cloth roof, which we’ve seen previously on other 4 Series drop tops. Holding a button on the center console triggers a dance of panels and fabric, folding the roof into the trunk in 18 seconds (and returning just as quickly). That means that the M4 sacrifices about 3 of its 13.6 cubic feet of trunk space whenever you drop the top. The motorized roof can be operated at speeds up to 31 mph and is around 40% lighter than the previous generation’s hardtop. It also keeps wind noise nicely in check at highway speeds thanks to multiple layers of insulation and neat, flush-mounted rear glass.
The roof is only available in basic black or a shinier moonlight black. The paint, on the other hand, comes in a wide range of vibrant hues — from the gonzo Sao Paulo yellow to this example’s Isle of Man green. The cockpit can also be customized with colorful options like the equipped 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. These standard seats can be upgraded with vents that blow warm air over your neck and shoulders, which along with a heated steering wheel — as well as heated and ventilated front seats — makes the M4 a true four-season convertible.
TwinPower Competition performance
Standard Competition spec means that the M4 Convertible is powered by a beefier version of BMW’s twin-turbo 3.0-liter I6, boasting 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque — 30 more ponies and 73 more twisties than the non-Competition spec. That’s more than enough oomph to mask the cabriolet’s additional 327 pounds of curb weight versus a comparably equipped xDrive Competition Coupe. The convertible feels as precise and — at 3.6 seconds to 60 mph versus the coupe’s 3.4 — is nearly as measurably quick. That you can more clearly hear the howl of the sport exhaust with the top down is a nice consolation prize.
At the business end of that power plant is a standard 8-speed automatic transmission and xDrive AWD. You can lock the M4 into rear-wheel drive from the menus, but it’s not necessary for a good time. BMW has tuned the driveline and its various assist technologies to behave and feel like a rear-drive car under most conditions. With no “xDrive” badges to be seen, you’d probably forget this is an AWD car until the extra grip makes itself evident in the rain or during an evasive maneuver. I almost did.
The M4 Competition Convertible rides on staggered wheels and performance tires with 275/35ZR19s up front and 285/30ZR20s at the rear. Large ventilated discs with painted calipers and M Compound pads peek from beneath the spokes. Carbon ceramic brakes are available for $8,150, but considering the convertible’s GT attitude and my belief that most ceramic brakes aren’t worth the money (even on track-driven cars), they’re a skippable option.
Making sure the rubber stays met with the road is the standard Adaptive M Suspension, which goes from surprisingly supple and comfortable to razor’s edge sharp and stiff at the touch of a button. I’d recommend staying in the former mode for all but extremely well-maintained roads and track days. The M4’s steering also leaves little to be desired with excellent feedback and a satisfying-feeling, thick steering wheel.
Too many drive modes
As a fan of automotive tech, I love fiddling with drive modes, but I was overwhelmed by the M4’s numerous and overlapping M Drive settings.
Digging into the menus, drivers can individually choose from three engine response modes; three suspension settings; three levels of stability control; at least six transmission shift modes; adjustments for the steering, braking, xDrive system, exhaust sound, stop/start system; and multiple themes for the digital instrument cluster and optional HUD. That’s on top of two M Drive modes — Road and Sport — controlled with a button on the console… and a pair of M1 and M2 preset modes accessed via steering wheel buttons.
At times, it can be difficult to tell what mode the car is even in. Does selecting M Sport mode overwrite the M2 settings? Who knows?!
My test car builds on this complexity with the equipped M Drive Professional package, a $900 option that adds a third M Track mode and M Traction Control with 10 stages of adjustment (among other things). Maybe the dentist who buys this thing will be able to tell the difference between all 10 stages, but I doubt they’ll need that level of fine tuning.
I eventually settled on customizing and saving presets to the steering wheel’s M1 and M2 buttons (one for mild sporty driving, another for going wild), then toggling between those settings alongside the default Comfort mode. This is probably the best way to avoid confusion or distraction due to the many menus.
I’d also consider skipping the M Drive Professional package unless you plan on hitting the track. (Though, let’s be honest: If you are, you’re probably looking at the lighter and faster M4 Coupe, not the cabriolet.) The $2,500 M Driver’s Package is also skippable; you may enjoy the one-day performance driving class, but you probably won’t take advantage of the speed limiter increase from 155 to 174 mph.
Live Cockpit Professional, iDrive 7.0
The M4’s dashboard is home to BMW’s 12.3-inch Live Cockpit Professional digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch central screen powered by version 7.0 of the automaker’s iDrive infotainment software. The main screen can be controlled via touch, natural language voice command via “Hey BMW” hotword recognition, BMW’s weird gesture system or the center console’s iDrive control knob.
Onboard navigation is standard with live traffic and, for select cities, on-street parking search and reservation. (My suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area, sadly, isn’t among those locations.) The iDrive interface is better than ever thanks to smartly organized menus, snappy response to inputs, a deeply customizable home screen and smart features and applications. If you’d rather bring your own apps, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard with both wireless and USB Type-A connectivity.
Driver aid and safety tech
On the safety side of the tech coin, the M4 Convertible comes standard with BMW’s Active Driving Assistant suite — which rolls in forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, low-speed automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning.
Upgrading to the $1,700 Driving Assistance Pro package brings more safety intervention features to the party, including lane keeping steering assist, lane change assist and emergency evasive steering assist. Checking this box also adds Extended Traffic Jam Assistant functionality to the standard dynamic cruise control, bringing partially automated hands-free steering online in stop-and-go conditions up to 40 mph — as long as its cameras can tell you’re watching the road. Exceed that speed and your hands will need to go back on the wheel.
This example also included an $800 Parking Assistance package (with semi-automated parallel and perpendicular parking assistance) and an onboard Drive Recorder that operates like a 360-degree dash cam, or Tesla’s Sentry feature, and records video of the vehicle’s surroundings along with speed and GPS data whether parked or on the move.
Price and competition
The 2022 BMW M4 Convertible starts at $87,295, including the $995 destination charge. That’s $14,300 more than a base M4 Coupe, but only $7,300 more when comparably equipped with Competition xDrive trim. This example checked almost every box in the configurator, arriving at $104,295 as tested. Yikes! I would love for BMW to offer a cheaper M4 Convertible with rear-wheel drive and a manual transmission, but I understand why it doesn’t. Performance drop tops are probably the only class whose sales are shrinking faster in the US than sedans.
Consequently, the new M4 finds itself fairly short on competition. Mercedes-AMG’s C63 S Cabriolet is probably the closest rival, but you could throw the Lexus LC 500 Convertible into the mix to keep things interesting. Both skew toward the comfort end of the grand touring spectrum and, with there being no Audi RS5 Cabriolet and the Porsche 911 living in a completely different price bracket, the M4 is in a uniquely track-focused position.
You may not agree with me on the grille (many of my colleagues don’t), but the BMW M4 Convertible is a significantly better car than the model it replaces. The new soft top is lighter, yet makes almost no compromises relative to the previous retractable hard top. The cabin tech just keeps getting better. It’s a stronger performer, a much more engaging driving experience than before and one of the best (and only) choices filling this niche.