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BMW's M4 is an open-air thrill ride

At the New York auto show, BMW presented the all-new M4 with a retractable hard top.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
2 min read

A retractable hard top may not seem like a great idea for a BMW M performance car. It not only adds weight, but that weight shifts the balance of the car, depending on whether the top is up or stowed in the trunk. Most drivers, however, will likely forget those concerns as they pilot the 2015 M4 Convertible down a twisty road and feel the wind and sun.

The open top will let the bark of the 425-horsepower, turbocharged 3-liter inline six-cylinder engine resonate in their passengers' ears -- the note changing dramatically at each shift of the six-speed manual or optional seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Yes, the M4 Convertible should satisfy thrill-seekers as it includes the full range of performance gear available to the standard M4. An available adaptive suspension should help with any weight imbalance from the moveable top and performance settings change the steering response. Throttle and gear-shift response is also programmable by the driver, as is the traction control.

2015 BMW M4 lifts the top (pictures)

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The car features carbon-fiber reinforced plastics in key areas to lower weight and preserve rigidity. The retractable hard top does not precisely mimic the svelte look of the coupe, a sacrifice some will be willing to make. BMW notes that the top only takes 20 seconds to raise or lower, and can be operated at up to 11 mph. When the top is stowed, it reduces the space in the trunk by almost half.

In the cabin, buyers can opt for the latest version of BMW iDrive, which features a touch pad on top of the main dial. The BMW infotainment system is one of the more advanced on the road, taking advantage of connected technology to allow things such as Google destination search and Facebook integration.

Hardcore track drivers may sneer at the retractable top M4, but BMW certainly found a market for past M3 Convertibles. Well-heeled buyers -- it starts at $73,425 (around £43,700) -- who crave speed and enjoy open-top driving should certainly test drive the M4 Convertible when it hits showrooms this summer.