With its gaping nostrils, fussy lines, weedy stance and awkward rear, the M4’s looks attracted criticism from all of our testers.

And while the initial shock that accompanied our first look at its beaver-fanged face may have subsided over time, in no case did that clear a space for affection. Some will undoubtedly like this car’s bold and unapologetic styling, but plenty won’t.

M division says the M4 needs every square inch of this grille and air intake area to cool its engine and gearbox, but that’s hard to believe given that 30% of the grille must overlap the frontal crash structure. Bold, but pig ugly.

The M4’s mechanical specification is far easier to take to heart. The car’s 3.0-litre, twin-turbocharged S58 straight six engine is new, and it’s a force to be reckoned with. It makes 503bhp from 5600-7200rpm and 479lb ft between 2750rpm and 5500rpm, all of which was deployed in our test car’s case to the rear wheels via an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential – although, as we’ve already mentioned, other driveline configurations are now available.

Suspension is by way of special M division axles comprised of new aluminium wishbones up front, multiple links at the rear and adaptive dampers all round. Plenty of work has gone into strengthening and stiffening the standard BMW 4 Series’ chassis and lightening its body, too; as before, there’s a carbonfibre roof as standard to help lower the car’s centre of gravity.

All of which is welcome, because the M4 is bigger than ever. Its predecessor was already a large car, but this new one is 123mm longer, 17mm wider and – on our test scales – a hardly insignificant 190kg heavier. However, BMW has been better able than before to spread that mass across the M4’s axles. We found the old car to have a 53% front, 47% rear weight distribution, while new model splits it right down the middle.

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