We currently live in a world where automakers can take stuff out of cars, make them more uncomfortable and charge extra for it. What a time to be alive.
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These sorts of cars are the kind that are often called “race cars for the road”. They’re stripped out, hardcore, track day specials that are capable enough and legal to drive on everyday roads. Would you want to? Maybe every so often, as a bit of a novelty, but not everyday, as you’d likely develop crushed vertebrae. Among these sorts of cars are the Porsche Cayman GT4, most famously the Porsche 911 GT3 RS and the BMW M4 GTS. Admittedly, most of them are just sold as race cars for the road, but they’re actually a bit too posh for that. But is the M4 GTS the closest thing to an actual proper race car for the road?
Well, considering that it’s probably the least comfortable to live with everyday, it’s certainly possible. While cars like the 911 GT3 RS also forgo back seats for roll cages and have manually-adjustable seats, I’m not sure they are as nightmarish on regular roads as the M4 GTS.
With no sound deadening to actually be aware of, the M4 GTS is thunderously loud on the inside. From the free-flowing titanium exhaust to the sounds of pebbles pinging the underbody, it’s a cacophony of noise inside the GTS. Some of it great (exhaust), some of it not so great (road and tire noise), but all of it is loud. Then, there’s the ride, which can be brutal. The seats only adjust forward and backward, on a manual sliding rail, without requiring tools. If you want to adjust the angle of the back rest, you had better have your screwdriver handy. In a 911 GT3 RS, if you want to adjust the suspension, you press a button. In the M4 GTS, you have to take all four wheels off, get a tool in the trunk and manually adjust the coilovers. So don’t mess it up.
After hearing all of this, you might think that the M4 GTS isn’t a race car for the road but a proper actual race car. However, there are some oddly normal road car features still left in the GTS. Things such as auto start/stop, sat-nav and air conditioning are still present in the supposedly uber-hardcore M4 GTS. Why, though, it’s not as if someone is buying an M4 GTS to just cruise around in? And Auto Start/Stop, really? No M4 GTS driver is concerned with the fuel economy of an idling engine while they’re blasting around their local track. It’s a bit silly to have those functions in a car that seems so obsessed with weight savings that its sun visors are plastic. Save some proper weight and ditch the air-con, sat-nav and iDrive altogether.
However, despite its sort of counter-productive creature comforts, it’s still the most hardcore of all road-going race cars. It requires its owners to actually know a thing or two about racing and setting a car up properly. It requires its owners to suffer some discomfort for the added performance. It’s heavily compromised on the road, more so than in a 911 GT3 RS, which might make it the most race car-like road car you can buy.