2021 BMW M4 xDrive | PH video

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Is there a hilarious joke about the BMW M4 being driven along the M4? Not really, just something frighteningly obvious; surely I wouldn’t subject you to this? But the M4 was on the M4 and it turned one of the world’s most boring highways into an event. Not because I was making the most of the M4 (the car, not the motorway) in a reenactment of Jack Sears’ 185mph Cobra escapade on the M1 – that would be silly, especially considering Highways England just ran 32 miles of the M4 (the highway, not the car) on a “smart” highway, littered with little yellow flashing boxes. It’s because the M4 (the car, not the highway) is one of those cars that you can go 70mph with and still feel its joy.

What joy, you might ask yourself? What can be so absorbent in a steady state? Well, pertinently, his round. I get genuine, visceral pleasure from the car seat that feels very well engineered, and the M4’s damping exudes that quality on a tee. For a car with minimal wheel travel and tires this wide, but so thin (if you understand my drift) it’s sublime. It’s so simply flippin ‘comfortable. And I don’t mean in a cheesy way, because, as some might have you believe, the M4 is now the “new” M5 (cars, not freeways). It might be comfortable but it’s not a cruiser at heart. It is an absolute weapon, especially in xDrive form and certainly not despite that. If there’s anything disturbing about this, we’re talking in the Tomahawk sense – devastatingly accurate.

And nowhere is this shown more acutely than by studying its damping and spring speeds during a long drive. They are beautifully executed and approach the smoothness of the best supercars around. I couldn’t help but marvel at its elasticity during the ups and downs of a boring highway. Which meant, of course, that it was no surprise that when I did it on something more challenging, like the road to the top of Llangattock mountain, it is simply sublime. It may not even have switchable dampers; not once did I think “what this car needs is more vertical control” as I exited the back of a quickly grabbed ridge. It settles so delicately, in a controlled movement.

And one other thing struck me when Dan, Harry and I spent most of the day staring at the Brecon Beacons and the M4 (the car, not the highway): I actually don’t mind its dividing aesthetic. I don’t love the nostrils, but I don’t hate them either. And as I wandered around, looking at it from every angle, I found pleasure in its scalloped sides that narrow between the front and rear arches, firm but not too inflated. My only real criticism is that it feels a little heavy when you’re directly behind it. And it’s a heavy thing, of course, but with that beautiful damping, you wouldn’t really think it from behind the wheel.

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