All-wheel drive has long since made it from insurance agent to entertainer, now it's even ready for the rear-wheel drive par excellence - the BMW M4. A comparison with Porsche's hottest Carrera and Jag the Slipper.
The small reversible calendar came from the pharmacy as a loyalty bonus and has been interfering in life from the kitchen cupboard ever since. Every day he gives you a different clever saying on the way to work. Nothing profound, but the usual TV magazine philosophy, always accompanied by a kitschy image: Sunrise, Stonehenge, Scandinavia - this track. On offer today: mist-shrouded pine forest garnished with the wisdom that – drum roll – expectation is the snare before the pit of disappointment.
Well, it fits quite well, you think, and stumble – clumsily – into the BMW M4, which actually screwed up our ideas a bit recently. In fact, everything has developed in the announced direction with the G82. I mean: A good two seconds faster on the GP circuit actually puts an abrupt end to any discussion. However, the blatant leap in performance was at the expense of its previous best side - the handling, which is no longer as creamy, no longer so conched in its transitions: the engine buys the extra performance at the top with a dent underneath, the front steers more awkwardly in corners one, the rear axle sits tighter, but sometimes tears one off the stool so suddenly that we came to the realization that the M4 might be quite dedicated to the new four-wheel drive version. On their traction plus, which will smooth out the edges again. It actually sounded plausible if the calendar didn't have a say in this too: a Cotswold cottage, plus Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach: "Today's knowledge can be the daughter of yesterday's error."
There is no culture shock
Thanks for the tip, Marie. But now it's enough with the subconscious atmosphere. After all, the four-wheel drive M4 feels the way it should feel. Namely like its 4,000 euro cheaper brother with rear-wheel drive. Just as! You sit just as low, in bucket seats that are just as outstanding, but unfortunately just as expensive, the body and chassis are just as relentlessly wedged together via the many additional struts, and you have an equally revving three-liter biturbo in front of your chest, which takes the 50 kilos of extra weight of the all-wheel drive system with 650 Nm great dubbed.
At best, you think you can taste the xDrive in the steering, which, according to BMW, has only indirectly to do with the front-wheel drive as such. However, because of the additional components, the axle carrier and kinematics had to be redesigned. And a bit away from the optimum, which creates a somewhat doughy response around the middle position.Otherwise? Well, the topic of manual transmission has been settled insofar as all-wheel drive is only available in the 510 hp Competition, which is fixed per se on the automatic.
However, the nimbly anticipating eight-speed fits perfectly with the smooth everyday feeling, the advantages of which increase with falling temperatures. Ten degrees, night-damp asphalt, leaf dust everywhere, plus the sporty mixed Michelins - with the M4 you always had to be particularly gentle with the use of gas, otherwise he would either press you to the ground with electronic safety ropes or hit you with his character traits around the ears from behind . With the xDrive? layer in the shaft. No flickering DSC lights when turning briskly, no seething trouble spot in the rear, no commotion when flying off the motorway construction site. Instead: the bold continuous boost of a spotlessly cleanly channeled torque flow, which may have lost its romanticism with its concrete banks, but picks up speed all the faster - three tenths faster, if you take the 0-100 value as a basis.
The nice thing about it: The M color is by no means washed out by the accelerated flow, on the contrary, it shimmers like that... - but we'll get to that later. Before we do, we should ask Stoffel's competitors to come onto the stage: the Jaguar F-Type R and the brand-new Porsche Carrera 4 GTS, which in turn use all-wheel drives - both for the same reasons, but with extremely different penetrating power.
For the F-Type R, the introduction of AWD has been nothing short of a blessing. Thanks to him, he was redeemed from the reputation of evil and so much better in all his driving dynamics facets that there is no longer the 575 hp, 700 Nm fat V8 compressor with rear-wheel drive since the facelift. The 911 is completely different. With it, the theoretical traction advantage in the mechanical grip of the rear engine concept fizzles out, which is why the surcharge of a good 7,850 euros is actually only worthwhile on black slopes. In the dry, he can't put himself in the limelight - which can already be seen from the sprint values to 100, the difference between which Porsche puts at just one tenth.
More than one performance level
Worth more: the money for the GTS version. 9,520 euros difference to the S model may seem like a lot for 30 hp and 40 Nm more. But this one also differs from the conventional Carrera versions in terms of character. A chassis derived from the Turbo S including 10 mm lowering, central locking wheels, reduced insulation and the interior covered with Race-Tex pull them out of the norm or move them closer to the thoroughbred GT. And depending on how you criss-cross through the options list, the bias is either more here or more there.If you like it consistent, you can order the elimination of the rear seat, the manual transmission, the carbon fiber bucket seats or the entire lightweight package with thin glass panes, LI battery and 25 kilos less weight. Others may like our Indian red example, which packs the hardened core in cotton wool: multi-way chairs, distance cruise control, PDK.
But even if this GTS doesn't make the most of what the model range has to offer, nothing has changed in terms of expectations. It stays high, what else. However, there is no trace of pitfalls and the like. But where should they come from? All the components are brilliant in their own right: the ergonomics, the frenetic engine, the omnipresent precision. And that's just the status quo. The more you tug at the container, the clearer the extra class stands out. The tight rev ranges whip up the chassis, whose tension interacts with the torque vectors, whereby the rear-heavy balance comes into play, which allows the 911 to kneel with all its might in corners, but at the same time respond with great agility to steering interventions. That's true, the other Carrera models can do that too, but in the GTS the interaction has even more fervor, even more contour and, above all, sharper teeth on the speed saw blade.
The coolest sock of this trio
In any case, the jaguar threatens to look a bit old next to this cabinet of furiosities. That means: "Looking old" is wrong, after all he recently got dressed. However, the driving feel still tends towards the old-school direction, which makes the F-Type not necessarily a favourite, but definitely the coolest sock of this trio! Just slip on and the roaring bear power will ensnare you in a sports car concept that still lives on emotions and not just on ambition. In contrast to the other two, the body and chassis are rather loosely bound together, they live in a wild marriage, so to speak, allow each other freedom, and that contains room to play. So you're not tied to the developers' goals, you can knead the driving dynamics with the torque.
Anyone who obediently follows the textbook gets a sports car with defined adaptive damping, robust traction and bombastic thrust. If you tame the F-Type in the course of the curve with the gas foot, then it immediately wriggles out of its reasonably stable side position and rages around the corner in such a heartwarming way that expectation and disappointment suddenly lie in one another, drunk with happiness and dance with the stupid limbo snare .
Sure, the F-Type R didn't choose its role as an action comedian. In its early days, when Jaguar came up with the daring idea of leaving the rear axle alone with the V8, he literally slid into it.And now that he has what it takes for real lateral dynamics, he can no longer really get out of it because of the competition that is becoming more and more developed. In any case, one thing is clear: At Jaguar, they would immediately exchange the many expressions of sympathy for a solid test win. However, we think that there is no need for someone else who wants to be a Porsche so badly, because there are enough of them - especially since the end result is always the same: namely that Porsche continues to build the best Porsches.
Although there was said to have been a moment in Munich that might have changed that. According to legend, BMW was about to make its sports car comeback at the time - and a corresponding prototype for final approval in front of the high lords. With a CFRP chassis, a mid-engine and with the rock-solid conviction that it will be built soon. But things turned out differently. The concept went to the i-Brand and went down in history as a flop.
It was all a long time ago, but it's far from over, it seems. At least given the orientation of the M4, one could get the idea that he may now live this shattered dream, or - keyword chocolate side - has to bleed for the wrong decision of the big heads. Whatever the case, our whining about the sluggish handling is secretly a nod to its performance, which is gradually taking on grotesque traits. Seriously, we don't know what's more shocking. The fact that the four-wheel drive M4 rages faster through the slalom than a 911 GTS. Or the idea that the know-how that turns a mid-range coupé into a sports car almost went into a car that was also formally a sports car.
In any case, the balance of power here is not as clearly distributed as it looked in advance. There is neither this safe start-finish victory for the Carrera nor – and this is also remarkable – the feared beating for the Jag. Well, the number with the hats is not the thing of an F-Type, but as soon as it goes even a little straight, the cat is out of the bag. Because of its weight disadvantage, it cannot set records in longitudinal dynamics either, but the V8 is said to bite harder than both six-cylinders together. The punch comes seamlessly and everywhere. Top, bottom, middle. pow! Add to that the raging exhaust rattle, an extremely bright automatic machine and – not unimportant with so much lard – a flawless steel brake, which with warm values of 32.8 meters even outperforms the ceramic system of the M4.
The Jag even cuts a great figure in Hockenheim. Loud turning, a lot of neutrality in the course of the curve, lateral drive at the exit of the curve. All in all: super sexy. Only at the extreme limit, when you no longer just want to tease out your special charm, but also the best possible lap time, do the characteristics occasionally get tangled up.The sharp front axle rocks the pronounced tendency to roll, the slightly too angry gas response exaggerates the power distribution. Bottom line: the F-Type becomes a white water slide of its own musculoskeletal system, preferring to oversteer and sloshing back so heartily that the driver has to do well to swim against the many different currents.
That special feeling of four
But you'll laugh: He's not alone in that, even with the Porsche, one or the other wobble creeps into the driving behavior due to the additional drive bones. There is no body roll here, nor is there a steering sluggishness or – God forbid – blurring in the chassis. However, we are unanimously of the opinion that the four-wheel drive brings the Carrera less than it weighs in the end. The narrow corners are not the issue, the eternal formula for success remains valid here. In the wide arcs, however, the flow can, I emphasize: can come to a standstill.
As long as you keep everything under tension, the machinery eats into the lateral acceleration in the tried and tested manner: the front axle railed to the line, the rear as an angle grinder behind it. Now it should happen that you readjust with the gas foot here and there, and then it stops. Unlike the rear-wheel drive version, the four-wheel GTS is plucked off track by load changes, instead of turning your butt after a lob and then immediately spreading again. Very light, but far enough that the movement has to resynchronize. And this kink takes time.
Time, not the best time! With 1:53.3 min, the GTS stays ahead. But the air at its oh so lonely peak is getting thinner. And in fact it is the M4, which had actually already said goodbye to the competition over the past generations, but which 911 is now hanging in the rear-view mirror, filling the format. The basis for his successful catch-up race certainly lies in the paradigm shift, in the focus on performance, which has never been so strict and is given the ultimate consequence by the all-wheel drive. As expected, the steering behavior does not change. It still contains traces of understeer, but seems more pomadic than it actually is. However, the xDrive now pours the rest of the curve into a stable foundation. That is, depending on the mode. As in the M5 and M8, the four-wheel drive can also be completely paralyzed. Two taps and everything is as it says in the Bible. Rear-wheel drive, plume of smoke, waving M flags in the stands.
The sport mode gently introduces you to the new possibilities, allows plenty of cross drive, but straightens it out if you enjoy it too much. In the normal program called 4WD, the screed is then completely hardened, the principle takes effect, and suddenly everything makes sense. On the one hand, the M4 is protected against sudden tear-offs via the all-wheel traction.On the other hand, of course, you also have this certainty in the back of your mind. So you're not constantly hesitating about whether you should nail flat over the slippery curb or not, you just do it. You do it out of conviction. And: with enthusiasm. Because? Because the developers have managed to thread the interaction of active differential and torque distribution in such a way that the thrust is firmly interlocked with the ground, but clearly comes from behind - just as it should be for an M4!
The reward for the clean set-up work is paid out in hard currency: only six tenths behind the Porsche in Hockenheim, which is a minor sensation in view of the conceptual differences. In any case, the daughter of the error has been silenced, all pitfalls have been caught, and expectations exceeded.
It's just stupid that our calendar-ready graduation picture is now missing the right saying. But how about celebrating our new four-wheel drive hero with something Bavarian, with an old saying that applies both to those present and to the sports car world in general - nowadays even more than ever. Ready? Well then: "As long as the oars are buzzing, the heart is healthy!"
The all-wheel drive makes this race an exciting one. He brings the Jaguar up close with his reassuring hand, he fills the hole in the M4 when accelerating out, which was previously a style-defining feature of its handling, but became a snag in the context of its reorientation. Or to put it another way: Both the F-Type and the BMW polish their lap times with the extra traction, but always remain agile despite the clearer edge. For the 911, however, all-wheel drive is a drawback. Due to its engine concept, there are no grip advantages, so that it only brings one thing on the track: more weight. Bottom line: Despite measurable performance advantages, the 911 GTS lands on the same level as the rear-wheel drive Carrera S - and only a tiny point ahead of the M4.