It’s bigger, brawnier and gawkier than ever. Can the new M4 cut the mustard?

Whether you think of this week’s test subject as the second generation of a particular M division performance coupé or as a de facto sixth-generation version of an even more influential one, we can probably all agree that the arrival of the new BMW M4 Competition represents a significant moment for enthusiasts and keen drivers the world over.

The M4 is the modern inheritor of the legacy of that oh-so formative M3 homologation special of 1986 and brings with it plenty to talk about besides its styling – which, like that of so many modern BMWs, is intended to divide opinion.

I’ve never been one to rank design very highly among reasons for attraction to a particular car, but the M4 is proof of how much it matters if you get it wrong. I loved driving it but went out of my way to avoid looking at it. Who could own a car like that?

The days when driver’s cars of this size and brief were powered by high-revving atmospheric engines of the kind that various celebrated M3s have had over the decades are gone. But we have yet to see a partially – or even fully – electrified M car, so where does that leave the M4 Competition? Don’t imagine it’s nowhere.

The G82-codenamed M4 has a new engine, and while it may not be a free-breathing V8, it does produce significantly more power and more accessible torque than even the hardcore M4 GTS of 2015 had.

The car also gets a drivetrain unlike that of any compact M car before it. You can have a rear-wheel- drive, manual gearbox-equipped M4 in some markets (but the UK isn’t one of them). Otherwise, you can have one with an eight-speed automatic gearbox or even, in a significant break from this car’s acknowledged technical template, with four-wheel drive, with xDrive M3s and M4s due to join rear-driven ones here in the UK later this year.

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Whether you choose one driven axle or two, this car should be able to hit 62mph from rest in less than four seconds. But has it got the classic BMW M car driver appeal to match?

The BMW 4 Series line-up at a glance

The 4 Series line-up is a relatively diverse one. Non-M division models are available in both coupé and convertible bodystyles, with a choice of four-cylinder or six-cylinder petrol engines, or a sole four- cylinder diesel. Rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models are both available, too, although all 4s sold in the UK come with an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.

For now, the M4 Competition is only available as a coupé, though a four-door Gran Coupé and a convertible will no doubt join the line-up in the near future.

What Car? New car buyer marketplace - BMW M4

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