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Review of the 2017 BMW M4 GTS: Show Some Respect!

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On: Tue, Jul 26, 2016 at 1:21PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Review of the 2017 BMW M4 GTS:  Show Some Respect!

No matter who you are or where you go, car fanatics will almost always be biased on certain cars. That bias may be in the positive, and you’ve seen these people. They think that their preferred car is the fastest, best built, and obviously most visually appealing automobile on the market, and nothing you can say to the contrary, even if it is meant in a purely benign manner and only to stimulate productive discussion, will ever be seen as anything other than a slight to their beloved vehicle which they will defend to the death. German car owners are the first group to come to mind when talking about this auto hubris; American owners are second. Conversely, those that are against a certain group of cars will simply dismiss any and every piece of information that may lead them to draw a different conclusion than their already predisposed idea that the car they have always hated is forever still a piece of junk, that it is either overpriced, underperforms, looks hideous, or some combination of negative traits. Once again, American, German, and even Japanese cars come to mind. But, sometimes, even though you may hate a car, and may want to dislike it profusely, sometimes, you have to just shut up and give it the respect it deserves.

BMW has long since been the target of both fanatical positive and ostentatiously negative feedback. The people that love them, love them more than their favorite sports team. And the people that hate them, hate them more than paying taxes at the end of the year. Of course, it is hard to argue when the company’s slogan is The Ultimate Driving Machine… it was bound to be a bit polarizing from the get-go. But, love it or hate it, BMW has released a car that is something to be noticed, and will definitely make a statement on the public when it shows up, good or bad. The 2017 BMW M4 GTS is a monster, whether you love it, or hate it.

As if the garden variety M4 just wasn’t quite fast enough, Bimmer has dialed up the performance, and dialed back the amenities to create a sports coupe that is nothing short of breathtaking. Carbon-fiber is the material of choice for the GTS, and is used like a Southern cook uses butter—on everything. The hood, roof, rear wing, driveshaft, front splitter, rear bulkhead, rear diffuser, trunk lid, strut brace, and brake rotors are all made of the tough stuff to help reduce weight. BMW also tossed out the door pockets, used lightweight interior bits borrowed from the i3, and, oh yeah, the backseat is gone and in its place is a four-point roll cage. Titanium is used for the entire cat-back exhaust system, and BMW even went so far as to install lightweight sport seats. All of this to reduce weight, yet, when it comes to the engine, they decided to tack on 22 pounds.

22 extra pounds? Yes, but don’t get mad yet, racer fans, the GTS takes the standard M4 engine, which is a jewel of a motor to begin with—a 3.0-liter twin-turbo all-aluminum, DOHC direct-injected inline-6 that produces a prolific 444 horsepower and equally impressive 406 lb-ft of torque—and then turns up the heat. Or actually, turns down the heat. Where the normal M4 pumps up to 17.2 psi of boost, the GTS ratchets it up to 21.6 psi. To accomplish this, BMW engineers had to battle the ever-present worries of high heat, engine knock, and unwanted detonation. So, BMW has created a water injection system. Yes, plain old water. The system uses a 1.3-gallon tank under the trunk of the GTS and runs the water through stainless steel lines up to one of three injectors in the engine. This water is pressurized up to 145 psi, and at full load, which is considered to be above 5,000 rpm, the water injection can cut heat in the engine by as much as 90 degrees, which is wonderful news for a high-heat turbocharged engine; the cooler the better. So what’s the payoff? How about a new power curve that ends up with the GTS making a frightening 493 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. That’s stupid power. Of course, the only downside is that the water tank itself, along with the requisite piping adds another 22 pounds of weight—not to mention that 1.3 gallons of water weighs another 10.8 pounds. The other problem is that the once the water tank is drained, the GTS reverts back to the “normal” 444-horsepower tune. But even out on the track, where constant high-load effort is needed, the water tank is designed to empty in step with the fuel tank. Outside of the track, the water tank will more than likely drain much slower, because again, the water injection will be utilized only at loads above 5,000 rpm.

The suspension of the GTS also gets tweaked a bit towards the extreme end of performance. Struts stay up front, as does a multi-link rear, but the dampers have an adjustable setting on them as well as external reservoirs to account for track use. There are also adjustable perches that allow you to manually lower your car up to 0.8 inches if you so choose. That lowered body combined with a serious front air splitter that protrudes nearly 2.5 inches and an adjustable rear wing can combine to create 63 pounds of downforce on the front end and 210 pounds on the rear end at 186 mph. That solid aero package helps keep the very sticky 265/35ZR-19 front and 285/30ZR-20 rear Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires planted firmly on the tarmac at all times.

All of these tweaks may sound like overkill. Who actually goes 186 mph? Well, in the GTS, it might be you. This Bavarian Bomber downright hauls ass. Funneling that nigh 500 horsepower through its 7-speed dual-clutch auto (with manual shift mode), the super-M4 flies. 0–60mph comes up in a scant 3.4 seconds, 0–100 mph in 8.0 seconds flat, through the quarter-mile in a blistering 11.5 seconds @ 124 mph, and on to a top speed of 190 mph. While skidpad numbers are not yet available, we expect the GTS to easily top 1.00g, and more than likely destroy that number by a significant margin, as this is a born track car. At the pump, the GTS does show a little bit of weakness, posting a 16/23/19 city/highway/combined mpg, but then, how many 500 horsepower cars fare much better than that anyway? If you’re buying a GTS for its fuel mileage, you should probably go home.

Sadly, BMW is only going to make 700 of the M4 GTS models in total, and sadder still, only 300 will see the US shores. And chances are, if you haven’t already been asked if you want to buy one by your local BMW dealer, you’re not going to be getting your hands on one. But fear not, we have a feeling that the water-injection technology will have a trickle-down effect into future M-cars, and we may be seeing more of it to come, so you may not have to cut a check for $134,200 after all. Of course, that is if you like BMW and its performance brand. If you don’t, you’ll surely see a hundred-thousand dollar BMW as nothing more than a waste of money, and have some scornful comment about its rear wing. But the truth is, that love it or hate it, the 2017 BMW M4 GTS is a true supercar. You don’t have to like it, but you do need to shut up and give it the respect it deserves.


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