Acceleration is deceptively strong, like a tidal wave, from a very low engine speed. At first, it doesn't feel fast, and then from about 2,500 rpm, there's a huge swell of power that ramps up quickly and is maintained all the way to the lofty 7,500-rpm rev-limit. And with that swell of power, keeping the rear tires attached to the pavement is extremely difficult. With traction control left on, the warning light would flash almost constantly throughout 1st gear, and again, at the beginning of 2nd, and AGAIN into 3rd. With three engine modes (Efficiency, Sport, Sport Plus) and three traction-control programs (On, M Dynamic, Off), we sampled them all. The engine feels strong regardless of mode, but the terminal speed at the end of the quarter-mile reveals that full horsepower is only available in Sport Plus. It's surprising there's no dedicated "Launch" mode in here as well, and even MDM (M Dynamic Mode) felt too heavy handed in reducing wheelspin. In the end, traction-control Off and Sport Plus engine mode was quickest/fastest, but it was by no means a walk in the park. Pressing the throttle all the way to the floor too soon would spin the rear tires, so prudence is the key. The clutch pedal is light and predictable. The shifter is also light in action and snaps into the proper gate(s) without worry or fear of a missed shift. Strong performance from what we expected would be a big performer, but fewer aids than we expected to find. Selecting the right mode, getting the optimal launch, proper traction during hard acceleration, and never missing a shift ain't easy, but perhaps that's the way an M car should be. Finally, we saw no drop in the terminal speed at the end of eight quarter-mile passes, demonstrating that the radiators (we counted six) and intercooler are highly effective at dissipating heat.
As one expects from carbon-ceramic brake discs, once the brakes had a little heat in them, the M4 felt as if it would make the same stop over and over all day long without a fuss. On the other hand, the grabbiness and squealing that used to be associated with carbon-ceramics doesn't seem to be part of the trade-off any longer. These brakes feel otherwise normal in typical driving: Firm pedal, minimal dive, zero fade, and arrow straight. The third stop of five total was the shortest and even the last was shorter than the first.
As with previous M3 coupes (now called the M4), this car feels as if it's on its toes and ready for any curve or corner it might encounter. However, this one feels more settled and confident in the rapid transitions of our slalom course. When SportPlus steering is selected, it was highly responsive, exactingly precise, and the weight/resistance were perhaps only a little excessive, but appropriate for the task. With the electronic stability control (ESC) set to M Dynamic mode (MDM), the car was permitted to slide either the front or rear tires within a generous range before it would begin selectively applying brakes to redirect the car's heading. It was with this confidence within MDM that the driver could probe the M4's lofty limits without the threat of a spin. One can literally point and steer the car with the throttle and weight transfer between front and rear of the car. Despite this loose leash, the quickest passes were accomplished with the least amount of sliding. Eventually, the front tires were the ones that limited the M4's impressive performance here, however, the sophisticated rear differential would allow the driver to fully apply the throttle for an enthusiastic last-cone leap/exit where it could put all the power to the pavement. Big fun here. It was interesting that even with the ESC in default mode [fully on] that the car's athleticism is nearly equal to the MDM mode, albeit with less allowable skidding/fun.