BMW takes top off M4

GREG KABLE
Last updated 06:25 08/04/2014

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BMW's new 317kW M4 convertible has been revealed in a series of official photographs, ahead of a planned public premiere at the New York motor show later this month.

The four-seat open-top is the third in a new generation of turbocharged six-cylinder powered M division models, following on from the M3 saloon and M4 coupé shown at the Detroit motor show back in January.

The basis for the latest M4 is the recently introduced 4-Series convertible. The new car receives a series of traditional styling changes, including a more heavily structured front bumper with larger cooling ducts for the engine and front brakes, altered kidney grille treatment, more heavily contoured bonnet, wider front fenders with integrated air breather elements to smooth airflow through the front wheel houses, new exterior mirror housings, wider rear fenders and a lower rear bumper with four round chromed tailpipes.

At 4670mm in length, 1870mm in width and 1386mm in height, the new car is 56mm longer, 65mm wider and a scant 4mm lower than its predecessor. It also rides on a larger chassis whose 2812mm wheelbase and 1579mm front and 1693mm rear tracks are up by respective 52mm, 39mm and 63mm.

The three-piece metal roof opens automatically at the press of a button, taking 20 seconds to fold and stow behind the rear seats at speeds up to 18 kmh. Nominal boot capacity is put at 370 litres with the roof in place and 220 litres with it folded down – figures which represent a respective 20 litre and 10 litre increase on the M3 cabriolet.

Power for BMW M division's latest open top comes from the same turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine already confirmed for the upcoming M3 saloon and M4 coupe. The direct injection petrol, assembled at BMW's specialty engine plant located in Munich, unit kicks out 317kW and 550Nm of torque.

This is an 8kW and 150Nm increase on the naturally aspirated 4.0-litre V8 engine used by the old M3 cabriolet. Its keenest rival, the Audi RS5 cabriolet, continues to run a naturally aspirated 4.2-litre V8 with 331kW and 431Nm.

Channeling the new six-cylinder engine's reserves to the rear wheels is a newly developed six-speed manual gearbox or optional seven-speed dual clutch auto gearbox.

At 1750kg in standard six-speed manual guise, the M4 cabriolet tips the scales 60kg below its predecessor, endowing it with a power-to-weight ratio of 181kW per tonne. Official performance figures put its 0-100 kmh time at 4.6 seconds in manual form – 0.6 seconds faster than the M3 cabriolet and 0.3 seconds inside the time quoted for the 1920kg RS5 cabriolet.

The optional seven-speed dual clutch auto gearbox shaves a further 0.2 seconds off the benchmark sprint, lowering it to 4.4sec, 0.7sec faster than the similarly specified M3 cabriolet. Top speed continues to be limited to 250 kmh, while combined cycle consumption has improved to 9.1L/100km to provide the latest M car with average CO2 emissions of 213g/km. Those figures drop to 203g/km and 8.7L/100km with the seven-speed DCT.

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BMW says it has tuned the M4 convertible's suspension set-up for maximum precision, response and fuel efficiency. The car features a double-strut arrangement at the front, with an aluminium five-link set-up at the rear. Drivers can select from Comfort, Sport and Sport+ driving modes as part of the Adaptive M suspension package.

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