Johannesburg - A word of advice. If you’re in the market for a new BMW M3 or M4, and you’re toiling over whether or not to spend an extra 136k for a slightly more powerful Competition Pack version because you’re hoping the extra spend will show up when you hoof the gas, forget about it. You won’t.

On paper these tuned models look pretty tasty, with kilowatt figures turned up from 317 to 331, but the resultant drop in claimed 0-100km times, from 4.1 seconds to 4 dead, is hardly something you’ll feel in the seat of the pants. And that’s in a perfectly scientific world where said claims actually reflect in real life. They don’t always.

We’ve driven a handful of M3 and M4 derivatives, ranging from base models all the way up to the most blitzen 368kW GTS and according to our Vbox test equipment there’s minimal correlation between power outputs and acceleration. Not to mention cost.

Most recently we tested the M4 Competition, a car which came close to BMW’s claim with a best 0-100km/h dash of 4.15 seconds, but curiously it’s still not quite as quick as the standard M3 we drove in 2014 (see chart below). 

Even more curious is that the M4 Competition went quicker than the range-topping and way more powerful (but discontinued) M4 GTS to 100, but slower over the quarter mile.

True, we tested all these cars on different days with varying weather conditions, but even so we’d expect some bigger discrepancies in numbers. Especially when we’re talking hundreds of thousands of rands in price differences. 

Also, all of these cars were fitted with M-DCT auto gearboxes with launch control functions, so it can’t be said the variances were down to clutch control or technique.

But there is a but. Acceleration aside, that 136 grand can be felt in other areas; though it’s up to you to decide if throwing this much cash at firmer suspension and grippier handling is worth it or not. Springs, dampers and swaybars have all been tweaked to make the Competition a bit more deft in corners and on track, where it’s certainly more planted than a standard M4.

This does come at the expense of ride quality on regular roads though. Even with adjustable shocks set at their softest, the M4 CP will rattle kidneys on even the slightest road ripples. It’s not as outrageously firm as the GTS, but the difference is distinct.

It’d take a skilled driver to notice adjustments made to the active M Differential which locks up a little quicker on turn-in and on corner exits. Likewise the reconfigured DSC stability control system, which is tuned to allow a little more slide before intervention - though any driver willing to push the adhesion envelope this far would likely disable the electronic nannies anyway.

The Competition also gets a rumblier exhaust system, and it’s undeniably more vocal outside the car. Cabin acoustics, however, are still dominated by the synthesised engine note piped in through speakers, making your investment more enjoyable for bystanders than yourself.

Most noticeable, and possibly most valuable for the M-car poseur crew, are the package’s aesthetics. A blacked out M4 badge is a dead giveaway you’ve forked out a heap of extra dosh for a special edition. Same goes for the 20” star spoke alloys, gloss black window trims and grille, seatbelts with woven M-stripes and a set of deep bucket seats specific to this model.

The seats are excellent, with racy-looking integrated headrests and plenty of side support thanks to electrically adjustable side bolsters. The seats are also heated, which is interesting because slotted backrests leave your ribs exposed on cold days. Strange sensation.

VERDICT

A harder-riding and slightly more powerful version of a standard M4. Is it quicker around a track? Probably. Is it quicker in a straight line? Debatable. Is it R136 000 quicker? Definitely not.

Stick with a standard and far more comfortable garden variety M4. Rather use the saved money to buy expensive optional features, such as R104 500 carbon ceramic brakes - which don’t come standard on either model, and which you’d need for any sort of “competition” anyway.

Follow me on Twitter: @PoorBoyLtd

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