Road & Track recently went through their Performance Car of the Year competition, a competition in which the BMW M4 GTS was a contender. Unfortunately for the Bavarians, the M4 GTS wasn’t a top three winner but there is a silver lining — it proved to R&T that BMW M still knows how to make a great driver’s car.
Funnily enough, not everyone at R&T liked the M4 GTS, as some flat out did not like it. One R&T staffer even went as far as to tell another “This car is a mess, you’re going to hate it.” Them is harsh words. However, that very staffer, Travis Okulski, who was told he was going to hate it ended up liking it quite a bit. In fact, by the end of the PCOTY testing, he felt it a contender for a top three placing.
The reason for Okulski, and other R&T staffers’, loving of the M4 GTS is that it actually feels like a driver’s car from previous generations of M cars. It feels special and exciting and is compromised in the name of feeling special. It doesn’t have any speakers up front, has a roll cage that replaces the rear seats and is loud inside. Like, really loud. Like, loud enough to become obnoxious. Don’t expect to take the significant other on any dates in the M4 GTS, unless they’re a proper petrol-head.
The gearbox wines through the transmission tunnel, there are creaks and bangs over rough pavement and every mechanical sound the engine makes is heard through the cabin. This is proper race car stuff and it makes the M4 GTS an event to drive every single time. While the standard BMW M4 has become so easy to drive you grandmother can drive it, the M4 GTS is no such car.
It’s also just a better driver’s car than the standard M4. With much better steering that actually communicates what the front wheels are doing through the helm, the M4 GTS is far more enjoyable even to steer. The better suspension and rear differential make the rear end far more planted and controllable. Whereas the standard M4 slides its tail with even the thought of mid-corner throttle, the M4 GTS will plant its far wheels and fire out of corners. When it does step out, it’s more neutral, progressive and controllable.
The BMW M4 GTS is just the most visceral automotive experience the M Division offers. It’s the modern M3 CSL in that it’s the more pure experience that BMW M currently offers. While the BMW M2 might be the best modern expression of what old-school M cars used to provide, the M4 GTS is easily the most pure BMW M car and proof the M Division has still got it.