All 700 of the BMW M4 GTSs that will be built are already sold. Here’s what you’re missing out on.
WHAT IS IT?
The road-legal, track-focussed GTS is the most extreme BMW M4 yet. Lightweight tech, water injection and radical chassis helped it to a 7min 28sec lap of the Nürburgring, some 24sec swifter than the standard M4.
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT
Our early drives of the M4 disappointed, mainly down to its uninspiring turbocharged straight six. We’re desperate to find out if the hardcore GTS can set our pulses racing again.
Porsche 911 GT3/GT3 RS; Nissan GT-R; Jaguar F-Type R Coupe; Maserati MC Stradale
THE WHEELS VERDICT
Comprehensive changes make for a radical departure from the stock M4, both in looks and feel. GTS is sharper, faster and more involving to drive. We only wish they’d put a bit of this magic into the standard production car.
PLUS: Massive leap over M4; super-sharp chassis and steering; thunderous soundtrack
MINUS: Cost; have to strap kids to the cage; they’re only making 700 and they’re all sold out
THE WHEELS REVIEW
TWO things disappoint about the BMW M4 GTS: the first is the price, which is roughly double M4 Coupe cash. The second is that this track-focussed, road-legal special is only 30kg lighter than an M4 with a dual-clutch gearbox.
No-one seems to care, because all are sold. Screeching around Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain with a stupid grin breaking out between gurns of concentration, I’m inclined to agree. The GTS is a massive step from the stock M4, and it’s so agile and gains such a slab of firepower that it actually feels much more than 30kg lighter. With the two-pedal dual-clutch transmission standard, I’m tempted to flog my left leg to fund a used one.
Limited to 700 units, every GTS comes down the regular M4 production line, but the final 10 percent is hand-assembled, and that 10 percent is crucial to the magic. Body mods are restricted to a new vented carbonfibre bonnet, OLED (organic light-emitting diode) rear lights and an adjustable rear wing and front splitter, whose most extreme settings generate 10 times more downforce at 298km/h than the road set-up. The two-seat interior features carbon-backed bucket seats, lighter door casings and centre console, while the Clubsport pack adds a half rollcage, fire extinguisher and six-point harnesses.
Soon after leaving the pitlane you know the GTS is something special. Where the stock M4 motor has a turbodiesel thrum, the GTS barks and rasps through a new titanium exhaust. Accelerate and the throttle snaps to attention and the cold Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s spin up (an inch larger at the rear at 285/30 R20); it feels exciting and just a little intimidating, a challenge to be mastered.
The steering feels more incisive – a new milled swivel bearing and optimized torque curve are said to dial out slack – and the chassis is all knife-edge responses and hints of nervousness with its extra two degrees of negative camber. This thing feels set up to monster a lap, not baby a novice. No wonder its 7min 28sec Nürburgring lap is 24sec faster than the M4.
The guy who set that lap – chassis engineer Joerg Weidinger – also tuned the KW coilovers. Adjustable three ways, the bespoke suspension can lower by 15mm compared with the M4, and is adjustable for low- and high-speed compression, and rebound too. The possibilities for messing it up are endless, so it’s handy that BMW supplies both a wrench and two recommended settings: Street (also used for that bumpy ’Ring lap) and the Track option we’re testing. To me it feels pretty ideal, if just a little stiff in some sections; I’d soften the compression… no, the rebound… agh, leave it.
The chassis and the standard carbon-ceramic brakes – optional for M4 – alone would doubtless make the GTS much swifter around a lap. But the 3.0-litre twin-turbo six gets an extra 51kW/50Nm. Water injection is key, a well-established technology in rallying. Water is piped from a tank in the boot and into the intake plenum via three nozzles where it evaporates. Denser, cooler air is good for power, but it also reduces thermal stress on engine components – helping turbo boost to be safely increased from 2.2 to 2.5 bar – and actually saves fuel, too.
There’s extra performance from the engine, yes, but a hungrier character too: better response, an angrier exhaust note, and a feeling that you’re climbing to a power peak, not traversing a plateau.
Days after we leave Spain, the feeling of gripping the GTS’s Alcantara steering wheel hard, standing on the accelerator for as long as I dare, and feeling the boost kick me down the next straight still seems vivid. I want to be back there, trying to shave tenths off my best time, peeling back the layers of the GTS’s character.
Only the most involving sports cars leave that kind of lasting impression. There’s no doubting the M4 GTS is right up with them.
Model: BMW M4 GTS
Engine: 2979cc six-cylinder bi-turbo, dohc, 24v
Max power: 368kW @ 6250rpm
Max torque: 600Nm @ 4000-5500rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch aut
0-100km/h: 3.8 sec
Fuel economy: 8.5L/100km (est)
On sale: Sold out
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