It seems that each time a new M3 arrives, we lament the passing of the previous-generation car for one that, yes, is faster, but also proves to be less incisive and not as rewarding to drive.

This time things are a little different. There’s no question that the new M4 is a more visceral, engaging car than the previous M3 was at its launch in 2007. The E90 evolved nicely into a car that, when fitted with a Competition Pack, was at least as enjoyable as this M4 is at launch.

The new M4 is a step forward, but not necessarily in every way that counts

But with this generation there is genuine progress. Not only is the M4 more powerful, lighter and cleaner than the old M3, but if you took like-for-like launch examples you’d find an M division car that is also better now than it was then.

Still a note of hesitancy, though: the 4 Series is a big car, as much like a junior M6 as an M3 used to be. An M4 will satisfy BMW and most of its buyers; an M2 would better thrill the purists.

Alternatively, if you can live without rear seats, the Porsche 718 Cayman S gives you everything you'll need. Although the emergence of the M4 CS could redress that balance as it takes all that was good about the standard car and mixes with the best from the GTS.