How do you judge a car that has no competitors?
This seldom happens in the auto industry as fierce rivals create carbon copies of each other’s work to get their slice of that segment’s pie. However, in the case of the 2022 BMW M4 Competition xDrive Convertible and its tongue-twisting name, it seemingly stands alone. As of writing, you can’t order a Mercedes-AMG C63 Cabriolet, and Audi never produced a drop-top variant of the current-gen RS 5.
Despite a running start, the convertible M4 doesn’t take its early lead for granted. With an as-tested price of $107,095, including a $995 destination fee, this sporty Bavarian falls in a performance sweet spot. More than an Audi S5 Convertible or AMG C 43 Cabriolet, but less than an SL Roadster or R8, the M4 Convertible’s top competitor is its coupe sibling.
With the same 503 horsepower straight-six under the hood, engaging driving experience, but with the added benefit of glorious exhaust noises, this drop-top proves the coupe shouldn’t immediately be your top pick.
For the most part, the 2022 BMW M4 Competition xDrive Convertible is a big handsome-looking thing. While its controversial nose is still a point of contention for some, strong sales figures suggest that the folks actually lining up to buy an M3/M4 become quick fans of the design.
As our week with the M4 Competition closed, its unusual front-end styling still hadn’t worked its magic on us. Luckily, its appeal does seem to be quite dependent on color. For example, the Brooklyn Grey Metallic finish on our tester highlights the front’s large intakes, while stealthier finishes such as Tanzanite Blue II Metallic, Isle of Man Green Metallic, and Black Sapphire Metallic allow them to hide in plain sight.
Front-end aside, the M4 Competition xDrive Convertible has a menacing presence. Its generous dimensions may convince you it’s a GT at first sight, but its widened bodywork, strong shoulder line, and low stance scream sports car. Its staggered set of 19/20-inch M Double-Spoke wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber is a particular highlight as their two-tone finish helps them appeal larger, visually filling out the large wheel wells.
The main focal point of this car’s rear end is its enormous carbon-fiber diffuser housing four large exhaust tips. Supplemented by aggressive lines in the rear bumper, these elements combine to widen the car visually. There’s no mistaking an M4 for a standard 4-Series.
While its predecessor counted on a folding metal roof, this newest version returns to the soft tops of old. According to BMW, this has profound weight benefits as the new fabric top is 40 percent lighter than the outgoing hard-top. From a visual standpoint, the black roof provides a nice contrast against the lighter paintwork, matching darker carbon fiber elements and the two-tone wheels. It takes 18 seconds to retract and can do so at up to 31 mph.
Fans of the nose will find no other gripes with the rest of this car’s styling. It’s sleek and imposing while drawing on styling elements of previous generations while looking squarely at the brand’s future. However, it’ll take only one drive to have even the harshest critics forgiving its looks.
Over the last ten years, performance cars have become astronomically fast. Supercar-quick is an understatement, and the 2022 BMW M4 Competition xDrive Convertible is no exception. It is a proper powerhouse, powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine delivering 503 hp and 479 lb.-ft of torque. Despite a curb weight of 4,306 lb, 327 lb more than its coupe equivalent, it still reaches 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. The 0-60 penalty is only 0.2 seconds compared to an equivalent coupe.
In the real world, however, these slight differences are imperceptible. No one climbing out of the drop-top can tell its straight-line performance apart from its lighter sibling. Its xDrive all-wheel drive system is to thank for this. While it remains a rear-biased system, it helps the M4 put all its power down. In contrast, a rear-drive M3 Competition we tested last year proved eager to light up its rear tires during a launch.
Hit the canyons, and the M4 Competition Convertible’s all-wheel drive nature comes to the forefront. There’s significantly more grip through the corners, and its limits proved higher than its rear-drive counterparts. While you sacrifice outright front-end agility, you get a higher level of composure as you try and test its limits. Dialing back stability control is an excellent example of this. Where a rear-drive M4 may become squirrely, its xDrive sibling seemingly claws its way out of corners.
The onboard eight-speed ZF automatic transmission proves that a dual-clutch box isn’t necessary to make an engaging sports car. While we have yet to drive a three-pedal M3/M4, this ZF unit proved incredibly quick in its most aggressive settings while neatly fading into the background around town. Its only downside is that you won’t get those crisp downshifts you got in the previous model. It’s quick, just not razor sharp.
Although chassis flex is a common topic when dealing with 2023 convertibles, there’s none to report here. Within that 327 lb gain between an xDrive coupe and the convertible, you get all the additional strengthening BMW implemented to retain rigidity. Even after multiple runs in the canyons, we couldn’t detect any unusual movement. Sure, at 4,306 lb, the drop-top is a chunky thing, but wobbly it is not.
With the top down, its active exhaust delivered a wonderful throaty note. As its predecessor was far from the best-sounding M car, this was a welcomed addition. This will be the most significant deciding factor between this and its coupe counterpart, as this drop-top sports car matches its sibling in every other performance aspect.
Its steering is hefty. In traditional BMW fashion, it goes from weighty to downright heavy as you move up to the most aggressive drive modes. While the wheel is willing to communicate, it only seems to do so when you’re really pushing this car. If you’re cruising along, it’s more weight than actual feedback. As a result, you’re only properly connecting with this car when tackling corners faster than you probably should.
Our tester did not feature the optional carbon-ceramic brakes for $8,500. However, the standard compound brakes proved strong, even after multiple spirited drives. Given this car’s heft and tremendous pace, we were glad that they were not only effective but very consistent throughout a full day of testing.
So then, the BMW M4 Competition Convertible is a proper M car, even without a roof. However, if this car has any flaw, it’s that it doesn’t ever dial itself back. Sure, a stiff, planted two-door is ideal for a Sunday drive, but during the week around town, its adaptive suspension never entirely leaves stiff mode. Around Los Angeles’ poorly maintained roads, it proved bouncy while translating even the smaller road imperfection into in-cabin discomfort. However, one key interior option may make all the difference.
Inside, the 2022 BMW M4 Competition xDrive Convertible feels like a premium product, even with a six-figure price tag. Our tester featured carbon fiber seemingly everywhere and an ultra-bright shade of Kyalami Orange leather with a contrasting shade of black. This interior is not for everyone. It is a true love-it or hate-it scenario. In our case, it was a major win, especially on an otherwise executive-friendly car.
While their leather finish is a winner, the seat’s ergonomics are not. Our tester featured the optional $3,800 M carbon bucket seats. While they are stunning to look at with a full carbon back and pass-through sections around your torso, sitting comfortably in them proved challenging. The main culprit is the side bolstering, which holds you in quite tightly if you’re of any size and makes ingress and egress a struggle.
In the canyons, their track-focused nature means you won’t shift around through high-speed corners. However, around town, you may find yourself searching for personal space. Add a sizeable carbon-fiber centerpiece between your thighs, and you’ll need to be properly slim to sit comfortably. Combined with the M4 Competition’s stiff suspension, you’ll have a sports car that can’t double as a cruiser. However, the move here is to leave the M4’s standard seats. They offer excellent bolstering, plenty of padding, and work to offset some of the suspension’s harshness.
The rest of the interior proved well-built and nicely laid out. In front of the driver, a configurable 12.3-inch instrument cluster relays all the relevant information with stunning graphics. At the same time, a 10.25-inch infotainment screen in the center houses iDrive 7.0 and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. It’s worth mentioning that during our week, the M4 never made a strange rattle or had even the slightest trim misalignment.
With the top up, interior noise remained minimal, even on the highway. While it may not be exactly as quiet as its coupe sibling, it delivers the sound-deadening you’d expect from a premium product.
Our tester comes in at $107,095, including a $995 destination fee. It starts at $86,300, but costly options such as the M carbon bucket seats for $3,800, M carbon exterior package for $4,700, and M driver’s package for $2,500 quickly get us to that elevated as-tested figure. Looking through the configurator, our tester was only a few available options, such as the $8,500 carbon-ceramic brakes.
As the 2022 BMW M4 Competition xDrive Convertible proves that it can go toe-to-toe with a comparable coupe in handling, speed, and enjoyment, the main deciding factor will be the drop-top experience. With this latest iteration, BMW has eliminated most of the common drawbacks associated with convertibles, leaving customers to decide solely on the type of experience they’d like.
However, while this specific M4 proves to be an excellent sports car, its price tag makes it not the one to get. At $107,095 as-tested, this M4 has nearly every available optional extra. We’d have no problem recommending them if they genuinely altered the driving experience. However, this M4 Competition Convertible xDrive comes with everything you need right out of the box. So if open skies on a Sunday drive are a must, avoid costly options, and you’ll have a properly priced sports car that won’t disappoint.