Sedans & Coupes

Does the 2021 BMW M4 Competition’s Speed Match Its Sensational Looks?

Clearly, not everyone’s on board with some of the design choices on the latest BMW 4 Series. That goes for the base models, the M440i, and the range-topping model, the M4 Competition. But looks are only one part of any car’s appeal. What really matters is, does the 2021 BMW M4 Competition live up to its name?

The 2021 BMW M4 Competition is definitely fast

A bright-green 2021 BMW M4 Competition on a racetrack at sunset
2021 BMW M4 Competition | BMW

In ‘base’ form, the 2021 BMW M3 and M4 are already fairly quick. Both the sedan and the coupe have a 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six rated at 473 hp and 406 lb-ft. And while there’s an optional eight-speed automatic transmission available, a six-speed manual is standard.

The 2021 BMW M4 Competition, though, is automatic-only, Road & Track reports. But that’s because it’s more powerful; the Competition trim bumps the output to 503 hp and 479 lb-ft. Plus it offers optional AWD, Car and Driver reports. But even with RWD, the M4 Competition is appreciably quick; it goes 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds, Roadshow reports. The ‘base’ M4 needs 4.1 seconds to do the same.

The rear 3/4 view of a bright-green 2021 BMW M4 Competition on a forested mountain road
2021 BMW M4 Competition rear 3/4 | BMW

Apart from their powertrains, though, the 2021 BMW M4 Competition is essentially the same as the ‘standard’ M4. Both coupes over a wide selection of performance parts, including carbon-fiber bucket seats, a performance exhaust, and a carbon-fiber aero kit. Though admittedly, the M4 Competition has larger wheels than the standard car, Car and Driver reports.

But both models have standard adaptive dampers, limited-slip differentials, carbon-fiber roofs, adjustable steering and exhausts, and optional carbon-ceramic brakes. Plus, compared to the base 4 Series, the M cars have significantly stiffer chassis and more chassis bracing, Evo reports.

As for the grille, its appearance is functional. It’s designed to funnel additional cooling air to the M4 Competition’s engine, Roadshow reports. So, as awkward as it looks to some, it’s there for a reason.

But what’s it like to drive?

So, on paper, the 2021 BMW M4 Competition is suitably speedy. But what’s it like when the rubber meets the road?

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In short, rather excellent. Top Gear calls the coupe “a supreme all-rounder,” with Car echoing the sentiment. It’s not quite as precise as the Porsche 911, Car reports, and the steering may be almost too light and direct for some, Motor1 reports. And the steering could also use more road-feel, Roadshow reports. Plus, if you want adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, they’re optional extras, and only on the M4 Competition.

However, even with these drawbacks, the BMW M4 Competition is “a proper product of BMW’s Motorsport department,” Evo reports. The suspension and chassis deliver accurate and excellent handling, enough that the coupe doesn’t feel as heavy as its roughly-3900-lb curb weight suggests. And the car communicates what it’s doing through the wheel and seat, R&T reports, making it “a driving scalpel.” Throttle House sums it up best: “it drives like an M car.”

The blue-leather-trimmed carbon-fiber front seats and black carbon-fiber-trimmed dashboard of the 2021 BMW M4 Competition
2021 BMW M4 Competition front interior with optional seats | BMW

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Even without the carbon-ceramic brakes, the M4 Competition stops well, and the brake-by-wire system’s low-speed modulation is among the best, Roadshow reports. In Comfort Mode, it rides surprisingly well, and the optional carbon-fiber seats are both supportive and comfortable, Top Gear reports. It’s a genuinely daily-drivable car, Roadshow reports. Plus, the engine revs eagerly and has a wide torque band.

Is the 2021 BMW M4 Competition worth the price?

As of this writing, the AWD option isn’t available for the 2021 BMW M4 Competition. But even so, the RWD model doesn’t come cheap. The base M4 starts at $71,800; the Competition trim adds another $2900. And that’s before adding things like ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, or the M Drift Analyzer.

An overhead-angle view of a blue 2021 Audi RS5
2021 Audi RS5 overhead | Audi

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Even in non-Competition form, the 2021 BMW M4 has noticeably more horsepower than the 2021 Audi RS5. Indeed, Top Gear says the M4’s arrival “has negated the need for a car as anaemic [sic] as the Audi RS5 overnight.” And at $75.1k, it’s slightly more expensive than the BMW.

However, the M4 is out-gunned by the 550-hp $74,750 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. And it beat the last-gen M3 in Car and Driver’s hands. Though it’s worth pointing out that the Alfa is only available in RWD form. And you can get an M4 with a stick.

A red 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio on a racetrack
2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio | Alfa Romeo

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Ultimately, it depends on how you like the BMW M4 Competition’s driving dynamics. And whether you can look past its looks.

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