Mark Jones
Road Test Editor
4 minute read
7 Oct 2015
8:00 pm

BMW M4 Coupe can do almost anything

Mark Jones

I know I said in my last BMW M4 Coupe long-term update that I would be bringing you a full road test on the car the M Driver's Package has been installed, but the BMW M Performance Parts exhaust system has not arrived yet and I want to test the car in its final performance version even though BMW claim no performance gains from the mods we are doing.

The BMW M4 Coupe is proof that it can do almost anything. Picture: RacePics

The M Driver’s Package is available to owners of the BMW M3 Sedan, M4 Coupe, M4 Convertible, M5 Sedan, M6 Coupe, M6 Convertible and M6 Gran Coupe. With the M Driver’s Package option, owners are able to increase the top speed of their M vehicles from 250km/h to 305km/h (M5/M6) or 280km/h (M3/M4). The top speed increase will automatically be activated when surpassing the 2 000km run-in distance and once the run-in inspection has been completed.

The retail price of the M Driver’s Package is R26 300 for the BMW M3 Sedan, M4 Coupe and M4 Convertible, and R36 800 for the BMW M5, BMW M6 Gran Coupe, BMW M6 Coupe and M6 Convertible. You can find out more at www.bmw.co.za/BMWMPerformance.

But the update for this month has nothing to do with going 280 or 305km/h, it is all about seeing how much grip you have on a wet surface, and for that I took our longer-term M4 Coupe to the BMW Car Club Gauteng’s Skidpan Gymkhana Day at Zwartkops.

For those of you new to wet skidpan gymkhanas, a track is laid out using traffic cones and then participants race against the clock to complete the track in as short a time as possible, but if you hit a cone, you get a two second penalty and if you make your own track (otherwise known as a wrong route), you get the slowest correct route time for that course. Three different tracks were used, each getting longer and more difficult as the day went on. The skidpan is split in half to make a mirror image of each track – so a left and a right track to give a total of six timed runs for each participant.

The biggest issue for me was not just stomping on the accelerator pedal and hoping to get 317kW of power through the rear wheels to the wet tar. It was the 650Nm of torque on call from as low as 1 850rpm all the way to 5 500rpm that causes issues when you try and go quick around a tight and wet circuit. It is this torque that can even overwhelm the OEM Michelin rubber at will on a dry road when the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) control system is switched off.

The BMW M4 Coupe is proof that it can do almost anything. Picture: RacePics

The BMW M4 Coupe is proof that it can do almost anything. Picture: RacePics

But thankfully the M4 Coupe comes with an Active M Differential, which uses an electronically controlled multi-plate limited-slip differential to optimise traction and directional stability. Its control unit links up with the already mentioned DSC system and also takes into account the position of the accelerator pedal, the rotational speed of the wheels and the car’s yaw rate. Every driving situation is therefore precisely analysed and an impending loss of traction on one side of the car identified at an early stage.

The degree of lock – which may be anywhere between 0% and 100% – is adjusted as required within a fraction of a second, enabling wheel spin to be controlled on slippery surfaces in MDM (M Dynamic Mode), a sub-function of the DSC system.

While DSC intervenes as required to counteract understeer and oversteer, MDM allows greater wheel slip and I decided that setting the car up in MDM, which allows this little bit of slip and angle before intervening, was the best way to go. Traction off just meant wheel spin and no grip and traction on meant the power was constantly cut to the wheels on this slippery surface.

People are also quick to forget this is still a full size 1.5 ton executive coupe and tackling closely spaced cones on a slippery and wet surface is not this car’s claim to fame. But despite this, I still managed to place sixth overall against the likes of Subaru AWD cars and third, just behind two gymkhana stalwarts, and way ahead of any other F80/F82 M3/M4s in the dedicated BMW Class on the day, comprehensively proving this M4 Coupe can do almost anything and come out on top.

The next update on my time with the BMW M4 will be on November 4 in Citizen Motoring, which should be all about my high speed, high performance day at the Bridgestone Speed & Sound Tarlton Tar Gymkhana.