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Ferrari 488


BMW M4

Summary

Ferrari 488

James Cleary road tests and reviews the new Ferrari 488 Spider with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

It’s almost inevitable. Tell someone you’re a motoring journo and the first question will be, ‘So, what’s the best car you’ve ever driven?’ 

Without getting into an esoteric analysis of what the word 'best' actually means in this context, it’s clear people want you to nominate your favourite. The fastest, the fanciest, the car you’ve enjoyed the most; the one that’s delivered a clearly superior experience.

And if I enter the room of mirrors (where you can always take a good hard look at yourself) the answer is clear. From the thousands of cars I’ve had the privilege of sliding my backside into, the best so far is Ferrari’s 458 Italia, an impossibly pure combination of dynamic brilliance, fierce acceleration, howling soundtrack and flawless beauty.

So, the opportunity to steer the open-roof Spider version of its successor, the 488, is a significant one. By rights, the best should be about to get better. But does it?

Safety rating
Engine Type3.9L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency11.4L/100km
Seating2 seats

BMW M4

Will this, er, striking new BMW be remembered as the most controversial car released in the 2020s?

It’s quite possible. After all, there isn’t another vehicle in recent memory that gets enthusiast blood boiling so quickly and so often.

Yep, the second-generation BMW M4 risks being remembered for the wrong reasons, and it all has to do with that oversized, eye-catching kidney grille.

Of course, the new M4 is more than a ‘pretty face’ - or pretty remarkable face. In fact, as our test of the Competition coupé proved, it actually resets the benchmark in its segment. Read on.

 

Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency—L/100km
Seating4 seats

Verdict

Ferrari 4889/10

The Ferrari 488 Spider is a brilliant machine. It's properly supercar fast, in a straight line and around corners. It looks stunning, and attention to design detail, engineering refinement and overall quality oozes from its every pore.

Is it the best car I’ve ever driven? Close, but not quite. Others may disagree, but for what it’s worth, I think the Ferrari 458 Italia, in all its high-revving, naturally aspirated glory is still the sweetest ride of all.

Is this open-top Italian stallion your dream machine? Tell us what you think in the comments below.


BMW M48.4/10

No matter what, haters are going to hate, but the new M4 Competition coupe doesn’t need any unsolicited style tips. And let’s not forget, styling is always subjective, so it’s not a matter of being wrong or right.

Anyway, the M4 Competition coupe is a damn good sports car, and it should be recognised as such. In fact, it’s more than damn good; it’s the type of car that you long to drive again.

After all, when you’re behind the wheel, you’re not looking at the exterior. And real enthusiasts will want to drive the M4 Competition, not look at it. And what a truly memorable drive it is.

 

Design

Ferrari 48810/10

Launched in 2015, the 488 is the fourth mid-engine V8 Ferrari based on the aluminium space-frame architecture unveiled with the 360 Modena back in 1999, and unlike its Pininfarina-penned predecessors, was designed in-house at the Ferrari Styling Centre, under the direction of Flavio Manzoni.

The key focus this time around was aero performance, including the additional breathing and cooling needs of the 488’s 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 (relative to the 458’s 4.5-litre naturally aspirated unit); hence the car’s most obvious visual identifiers - substantial air intakes in each flank.

Measuring 4568mm nose-to-tail, and 1952mm across, the 488 Spider is marginally longer (+41mm) and wider (+15mm) than its 458 equivalent. That said, it’s exactly the same height at just 1211mm tall, and the 2650mm wheelbase is unchanged.

Ferrari is a past master when it comes to sneaky concealment of spectacular aero trickery, and the 488 Spider is no exception.

Upper elements of its F1-inspired double front spoiler direct air to the two radiators, while the larger lower section subtly pulls flow under the car where carefully tuned ‘vortex generators’ and a yawning rear diffuser (incorporating computer-controlled, variable flaps) dial up downforce without a significant drag penalty.

The ‘blown’ rear spoiler manages air from intakes at the base of the rear screen, its specific geometry allowing a more pronounced (concave) profile for the main surface to increase upward deflection and maximise downforce without the need for an oversize or raised wing.

Those side intakes are divided by a central, horizontal flap, with air from the upper section directed to exits over the tail, pushing the low-pressure wake directly behind the car further back to again reduce drag. Air flowing into the lower section is sent to the turbo engine’s air-to-air intercoolers to optimise intake charge. All brilliantly efficient and tastefully incognito.

Putting the engine in the centre of the car and fitting only two seats doesn’t just pay off dynamically, it delivers the perfect platform for visual balance, and Ferrari has done a superb job of evolving its ‘junior supercar’ with a nod to the line’s heritage and an eye on extending its reach.

The tension across its multiple curved and contoured surfaces is beautifully managed, and the Spider’s crouching stance screams power and single-minded purpose.

Inside, while the passenger might be enjoying the ride, the design is all about simplicity and focus for the person with the steering wheel in their hands. 

To that end, the slightly angular wheel houses a host of controls and displays including a very red start button, driving mode ‘Manettino’ dial, within-thumb’s-reach buttons for indicators, lights, wipers and ‘bumpy road’ (more on that later), as well as sequential max rpm warning lights across the top of the rim.

The steering wheel, dash, doors and console are (optionally) carbon-rich, with the familiar buttons for Auto, Reverse and Launch Control, now housed in a dramatic arching structure between the seats.

The compact instrument binnacle is dominated by a central rev-counter with digital speedo inside it. Readout screens for on-board info across audio, nav, vehicle settings, and other functions sit either side. The seats are grippy, lightweight, hand-crafted works of art, and the overall feeling inside the cockpit is an amazing mix of cool functionality and special event anticipation.


BMW M49/10

Let’s get straight to the point: the new M4 Competition coupe has a rather large mouth. It’s certainly not for everyone, but that’s the point.

Yes, if you can’t appreciate why the M4 Competition coupé now looks the way it does, then BMW’s designers clearly didn’t have you in mind when they were doing their thing.

Of course, an oversized version of BMW’s signature kidney grille has been seen before, most recently on the X7 upper-large SUV, but the M4 Competition coupé is a very different beast in overall shape and size.

Now, I know I'm in the minority here, but I really appreciate what BMW has attempted here. After all, aside from the similarly styled – and arguably better-looking – M3 Competition sedan, there is literally no mistaking the M4 Competition coupé for anything else.

And for what it’s worth, I think the tall but narrow kidney grille looks its best when fitted with a small, slimline number plate, just like our test vehicle was. The alternative Euro-style plate just doesn’t do it justice.

Anyway, there’s obviously a lot more to the M4 Competition coupé than that face, including its equally adventurous paintwork options, with our test vehicle finished in the searing Sao Paulo Yellow metallic hue. Needless to say, it’s a showstopper.

The rest of the front end is punctuated by the deep side air intakes and sinister adaptive laser headlights, which integrate hexagonal LED daytime running lights. And then there’s the heavily creased bonnet, which is also hard to miss.

Around the side, the M4 Competition coupé has a similar profile to the sixth-generation Ford Mustang, which is its least remarkable angle. It’s still attractive, though, albeit a little too smooth, even with the sculpted carbon-fibre roof panel.

Our test vehicle looked better, thanks to its optional mixed set of black alloy wheels (19/20 inches), which had the also optional gold calipers of the carbon-ceramic brakes tucked behind them. They combine well with the black side skirts and non-functional ‘air breathers’.

At the rear, the M4 Competition coupé is at its absolute best, with the bootlid’s lip spoiler a subtle reminder of its capability, while the sports exhaust system’s quad tailpipes within the chunky diffuser insert are not. Even the LED tail-lights look superb.

Inside, the M4 Competition coupé continues to be a knockout, the level of which depends on how it’s specified, with our test vehicle featuring extended Merino leather upholstery with Alcantara accents, all of which were of the very loud Yas Marina Blue/black variety.

Better yet, carbon-fibre trim is found on the chunky sports steering wheel, dashboard and centre console, with silver accents also used on the latter two to lift the sporty – and premium – ambience, alongside the tri-colour M seatbelts and Anthracite headliner.

Otherwise, the M4 Competition coupé follows the 4 Series formula, with a 10.25-inch touchscreen ‘floating’ atop the centre stack, controlled by the intuitive rotary dial and physical shortcut buttons on the centre console.

With BMW’s Operating System 7.0 on hand, this set-up is one of the best in the business, (intermittent wireless Apple CarPlay dropouts excluded).

A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is positioned ahead of the driver, with a backwards tachometer the main feature. It does lackthe breadth of functionality of its rivals, but there's also a very large head-up display handily projected onto the windshield.

Practicality

Ferrari 4888/10

Okay, so how do you approach practicality in a car that’s so obviously not engaged with the concept?

Best to say there’s cursory consideration in terms of cabin storage, with a modest glovebox, small pockets in the doors, and a pair of piccolo-sized cupholders in the console. There’s also a net and some general oddments space along the bulkhead behind the seats. 

But the saving grace is a generous, rectangular boot in the nose, offering 230 litres of easy-to-access load space.

Another attribute fitting broadly under the heading of practicality is the retractable hardtop which smoothly unfolds/retracts in just 14 seconds and operates at speeds up to 40km/h.


BMW M48/10

Measuring 4794mm long (with a 2857mm wheelbase), 1887mm wide and 1393mm tall, the M4 Competition coupé is on the large side for a mid-size car, and that means good things for practicality.

For example, the boot’s cargo capacity is pretty good, at 420L, and it can be increased to an undisclosed volume by stowing the 60/40 split-fold rear bench, an action that can be performed by the main storage area’s manual-release latches.

That said, we are dealing with a coupé here, so the boot’s aperture isn’t particularly tall, although its load lip is, making bulky items a challenge. However, two bag hooks and four tie-down points are on hand to help secure loose items.

Things are also mostly good in the second row, where I had a couple of inches of headroom and decent toe-room behind my 184cm driving position, although headroom is basically non-existent, with my head scraping the roof.

Amenities-wise, there are two USB-C ports below the air vents at the rear of the centre console, but no fold-down armrest or cupholders to speak of. And while the rear door bins are a surprise, they’re too small to accommodate bottles.

It’s also worth noting there are two ISOFIX and two top-tether anchorage points for (awkwardly) fitting child seats to the rear bench. The M4 Competition is a four-seater after all.

In the front, there’s a bit going on, with the centre stack’s cubby containing a pair of cupholders, a USB-A port and a wireless smartphone charger, while the central bin is decently sized. It has a USB-C port of its own.

The glovebox is on the smaller side, while the driver-side fold-out cubby is large enough to hide a wallet or some other bits and bobs. And then there are the door bins, which can accommodate a regular bottle each.

But before we move on, it’s worth calling out that the front carbon-fibre bucket seats fitted to our test vehicle aren’t for everyone. When you’re seated, they’re amazingly supportive, but getting in and out of them is a real challenge due to their very high and hard side bolsters.

Price and features

Ferrari 4889/10

Let’s get the big number out of the way. The Ferrari 488 Spider costs $526,888 before on-road costs.

Included in that not inconsequential figure is the ‘E-Diff3’ electronically-controlled differential, ‘F1-Trac’ traction control, ASR & CST, ABS, an anti-theft system, carbon-ceramic brakes, Magnaride shock absorbers, dual-zone climate control, racy leather seats, bi-xenon headlights with LED running lights and indicators, keyless start, Harman multimedia (including 12-speaker, 1280-watt JBL audio), 20-inch alloy rims, tyre pressure and temperature monitoring, and… a car cover.

But that’s just the starting point. Any self-respecting Ferrari owner will need to put a personal stamp on their new toy and the prancing horse is happy to oblige.

If you want an exterior colour to match your favourite polo pony’s eyes, no problem, the Ferrari Tailor-Made program will do whatever it takes. But even the standard options list (if that makes sense) offers more than enough scope to make an already spectacular four-wheel statement even more distinctive.

Our test car featured six new Mazda3’s worth of extras. That’s just under $130k, with the highlights being more than 25 grand in exterior carbon-fibre, $22k for the special, two layer, iridescent effect ‘Blue Corsa’ paint, over $10k for chrome painted forged rims, and $6790 for Apple CarPlay (standard on the Hyundai Accent).

But you’ve got to remember an inverse logic applies here. While some may see $3000 for cavallino rampante shields on the front wings as somewhat pricey, to a proud Ferrari owner they’re badges of honour. In the yacht club carpark, showing off their latest acquisition, you can script the satisfied boast - ‘That’s right. Two grand. Just for the floor mats!’


BMW M48/10

Priced from $159,900 plus on-road costs, the automatic-only Competition currently sits atop the manual-only ‘regular’ variant ($144,990) in the rear-wheel-drive M4 coupé range, with xDrive all-wheel-drive and convertible options set to become available in the future.

Either way, the second-generation M4 Competition coupé is $3371 dearer than its predecessor, although buyers are compensated with a much longer list of standard equipment, including metallic paintwork, dusk-sensing lights, adaptive laser headlights, LED daytime running lights and tail-lights, rain-sensing wipers, a mixed set of alloy wheels (18/19 inches), power-folding side mirrors with heating, keyless entry, rear privacy glass and a power-operated bootlid.

Inside, a 10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia system, satellite navigation with live traffic, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, digital radio, a 464W Harman Kardon surround-sound system with 16 speakers, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a head-up display, push-button start, a wireless smartphone charger, power-adjustable front sports seats with heating, three-zone climate control, extended Merino leather upholstery, carbon-fibre trim and ambient lighting.

Being a BMW, our test vehicle was fitted with a number of options, including remote engine start ($690), BMW Drive Recorder ($390), a mixed set of black alloy wheels (19/20 inches) with Michelin Sport Cup 2 tyres ($2000), and the $26,000 M Carbon package (carbon-ceramic brakes, carbon-fibre exterior trim and front carbon-fibre bucket seats), taking the price as tested to $188,980.

For reference, the M4 Competition coupé goes tyre to tyre with the Mercedes-AMG C63 S coupé ($173,500), Audi RS 5 coupé ($150,900) and Lexus RC F ($135,636). It’s better value than the former and has the latter two covered with its next-level performance.

Engine & trans

Ferrari 48810/10

The 488 Spider is powered by an all-alloy, mid-mounted 3.9-litre, twin-turbo V8, featuring variable valve timing and dry sump lubrication. Claimed outputs are 492kW at 80000rpm and 760Nm at a usefully low 3000rpm. Transmission is a seven-speed 'F1' dual clutch driving the rear wheels only.


BMW M410/10

The M4 Competition coupé is motivated by a cracking new 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline six-cylinder petrol engine, which is codenamed S58.

With a huge 375kW of peak power at 6250rpm and an even bigger 650Nm of maximum torque from 2750-5500rpm, the S58 is a significant 44kW and 100Nm more potent than its S55 predecessor.

A versatile eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission (with paddle-shifters) is also new and replaces the previous seven-speed dual-clutch unit.

And no, there is no six-speed manual option for the M4 Competition coupé any more, it's now standard only in the regular M4 coupé, which ‘only’ punches out 353kW and 550Nm.

That said, both variants are still rear-wheel drive, with the M4 Competition coupé now sprinting from a standstill to 100km/h in a claimed 3.9 seconds, making it 0.1s quicker than before. For reference, the regular M4 coupe takes 4.2s.

Fuel consumption

Ferrari 4888/10

Ferrari claims the 488 GTS will consume 11.4L/100km for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle, emitting 260g/km of CO2 in the process. Not bad for such a monumental engine. You’ll need 78 litres of premium unleaded to fill the tank.


BMW M47/10

The M4 Competition coupé’s fuel consumption on the combined-cycle test (ADR 81/02) is 10.2L/100km, while its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are 234g/km. Both returns are more than respectable when you consider the level of performance on offer.

That said, in our real-world testing, we averaged 14.1/100km over 387km of driving, with plenty of time in bumper-to-bumper traffic. And if that wasn’t the case, the M4 Competition coupé was being driven with ‘vigour’, so a much better return is possible.

For reference, the M4 Competition coupé’s 59L fuel tank takes more expensive 98RON premium petrol at minimum, but that’s no surprise.

Driving

Ferrari 48810/10

We had the rare opportunity of driving the 488 Spider on road and track with Ferrari Australasia handing us the keys for a rural run from Sydney to Bathurst, followed by some private bonding time on the roads around town, then a batch of unrestricted hot laps on the Mount Panorama circuit in the lead up to this year’s 12 Hour race (which the scuderia won in emphatic style with the 488 GT3).

On the freeway, cruising at 110km/h with roof open, the 488 Spider is civilised and comfortable. In fact, Ferrari claims normal conversation at speeds over 200km/h isn’t a problem. Top tip (no pun intended) is to keep the side glass and small electric rear window raised to minimise turbulence. With the roof up, the 488 Spider is every bit as quiet and refined at the fixed roof GTB.

Even with the multi-mode Manettino in its regular ‘Sport’ setting and the seven-speed ‘F1’ dual-clutch gearbox in auto, all it takes is a gentle crank of the right ankle to despatch pesky road users with the temerity to impede the 488’s progress.

On the quiet, open and twisting roads around the outskirts of Bathurst we may have flicked the switch to ‘Race’, slipped the gearbox into manual and given the 488 Spider a nudge. In some sweeping corners on Mount Panorama we might have even tested Einstein’s theory that matter bends the fabric of space and time. In short, we were able to get a good feel for the car’s dynamic abilities, and they are monumental.

Relative to the 458, power is up a lazy 17 per cent (492 v 418kW), and turbo-fed torque leaps a staggering 41 per cent (760 v 540Nm), while kerb weight is trimmed by 10kg (1525 v 1535kg).

The result is 0-100km/h in 3.0 seconds (-0.4sec), 0-400m in 10.5 (-0.9sec), and a maximum velocity of 325km/h (+5km/h).

If you must know, given fuel efficiency and emissions performance was the key driver behind Ferrari’s move to a turbo powerplant, all this is balanced by claimed 11.4L/100km combined economy (down from 11.8 for the 458).

A full blown launch in this car is like lighting the wick on an Atlas rocket, with a seemingly never-ending surge of thrust pinning your back to the seat, and each pull of the column-mounted carbon gear paddle delivering a seamless and near instantaneous shift. Ferrari claims the 488’seven-speed ‘box shifts up 30 per cent quicker, and down 40 per cent faster than the 458’s.

The lofty summit of the twin turbo’s torque mountain arrives at just 3000rpm, and once you’re up there it’s a table top rather than a peak, with more than 700Nm still on call at close to 7000rpm.

Maximum power arrives at 8000 (perilously close to the V8’s 8200rpm rev ceiling), and the delivery of all this brute force is impressively refined and linear. To improve throttle response, the compact turbos incorporate ball-bearing-mounted shafts (rather than the more common sleeve bearing type), while the compressor wheels are made from TiAl, a low-density titanium-aluminium alloy. As a result, turbo lag simply isn’t in the 488’s vocabulary.

And what about the sound? On its way to 9000rpm the 458 Italia atmo V8’s rising fortissimo howl is one of the world’s greatest mechanical symphonies.

Maranello’s exhaust engineers allegedly spent years fine-tuning the 488’s aural output, developing equal length tubes in the manifold to optimise harmonics before gas flow reaches the turbos, to get as close as possible to the high-pitch wail of a naturally aspirated Ferrari V8. 

All we can say is the 488’s sound is amazing, immediately turning heads on contact... but it ain’t no 458.

Using the 488 Spider’s incredible dynamic ability to translate forward momentum into lateral g’s is one of life great pleasures.

Supporting the double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension set-up is a host of high-tech widgets including the tricky E-Diff3, F1-Trac (stability control), High-Performance ABS with Ferrari Pre-Fill, FrS SCM-E (magnetorheological shock absorbers), and SSC (side-slip control).

Combine that with the active aero quietly turning the car into a four-wheel suction cup, plus ultra-high performance Pirelli P Zero rubber, and you have amazing grip (the front end especially, is incredible), perfect balance and stunning corner speed.

Our Mount Panorama blat confirmed the 488 Spider remains poised and throttle steerable through corners and curves at ludicrous speeds.

Chasing gears into the top of the ‘box up mountain straight made the lights on the upper rim of the steering wheel look like a fireworks display. The Spider transmitted its every move across the top of the circuit through the lightweight seat, and the very fast blast into The Chase at the bottom of Conrod Straight was other-worldly. Set the car up on entry, keep squeezing the throttle, grease in just a fraction of steering lock, and it just blazes through like a high-speed hovercraft, at 250km/h-plus.

More time back outside Bathurst confirms feel from the electro-hydraulic rack and pinion steering is brilliant in the real world, although we did notice the column and wheel shaking in our hands over bumpy backroads.

The quick fix there is a flick of the ‘bumpy road’ button on the steering wheel. First seen on the 430 Scuderia (after then Ferrari F1 hero Michael Schumacher pushed for its development), the system de-links the shock absorbers from the Manettino setting, providing extra suspension compliance without sacrificing engine and transmission response. Brilliant.

Stopping power comes courtesy of a ‘Brembo Extreme Design’ system derived from the LaFerrari hypercar, which means standard carbon-ceramic rotors (398mm front, 360mm rear) clamped by massive calipers - six piston front, four piston rear (our car’s were black, for $2700, thank you). After multiple stops from warp speed to walking pace on the circuit they remained firm, progressive, and hugely effective.


BMW M49/10

The new M4 Competition coupé is an absolute beast. Plain and simple.

In fact, it’s such a beast that how well you can harness its performance on public roads is very dependent on how it’s specified.

Our test vehicle was fitted the optional Michelin Sport Cup 2 tyres and carbon-ceramic brakes, both of which are usually the reserve of track superstars.

And although we’re yet to experience it in such a setting, there’s no denying the M4 Competition coupé would be at home on a circuit, but as a daily driver, these options are a step or two too far.

Before we explain why, it’s important to first acknowledge what makes the M4 Competition coupé so beastly in the first place.

The new 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline six-cylinder engine is an undeniable powerhouse, so much so that it’s hard to extract its full potential without handing over your licence in the process.

But when you do get to wring it out in first and second gear, it’s an absolute delight, with a rush of low-end torque preceding a power punch that even Iron Mike Tyson would be proud of.

For that reason, we rarely bothered with anything but the S58’s Sport Plus mode, because the temptation to have it all is far too great.

The reason why that’s so easy to do is because the eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission’s three settings are independent, meaning the M4 Competition coupé won’t always be looking to hold onto the lower gears if you don’t want it to.

The unit itself is predictably charming, with the difference in quickness between this new auto and its dual-clutch predecessor almost negligible. And yes, the advantage of the swap is buttery smooth gear changes, with low-speed jerkiness now a distant memory.

And when you are firing through the ratios, the booming sports exhaust system comes to the fore. Pleasingly, it’s ready to go every time the ignition is switched on, but to enjoy maximum crackles and pop on the overrun, the S58 needs to be in its Sport Plus mode.

Handling-wise, the M4 Competition coupé is one of those sports cars that begs to be driven harder and harder every time you attack a corner as it pushes its 1725kg kerb weight through bends with playful poise.

While I really enjoy the rear-wheel-drive dynamics, I still can’t help but wonder what the rear-biased xDrive all-wheel-drive version will be like when it launches, but that will have to wait for another day.

In the meantime, traction can be the M4 Competition coupé’s biggest issue, with the operative word being can. Yep, those Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 can be a handful in mixed conditions, be it in a straight line or through the twisty stuff.

Don’t get us wrong, semi-slicks are amazing when they’re hot and being used on a dry surface, but on a cold or wet day, they struggle to grip when the throttle is liberally applied, even with the rear limited-slip differential doing its best work.

For that reason, we’d be sticking with the standard Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres, which serve up the level of adhesion you’d hope for in everyday driving – unless you’re a weekend warrior.

In fact, if you are thinking about tracking the M4 Competition coupé, a lap-timer is built in, while a drift analyser will help you improve your slip angle and drift time if you’re lucky enough to find yourself on a skidpan, but we digress.

While we’re talking about our test vehicle’s options, it’s worth pointing out it’s a similar story with the carbon-ceramic brakes. Again, they’re mega on a track day, but they are overkill when you’re just out and about on public roads.

The standard steel brakes would be my pick. They’re powerful in their own right and still have two settings for the pedal feel, with the progressiveness of Comfort getting our vote.

Speaking of the word comfort, the M4 Competition coupé has come along in leaps and bounds when it comes to ride quality. Previously, it was unbearably stiff, but now it’s relatively comfortable.

Yep, the sports suspension is tuned superbly, doing its best to deliver a pleasant experience. Simply put, high-frequency bumps are dealt with firmly but quickly, while broken surfaces are also met with composure.

Of course, the adaptive dampers on hand are working their magic in the background, with the Comfort setting understandably preferred, although the Sport and Sport Plus alternatives aren’t that jarring when you need that little bit of extra body control.

The speed-sensitive electric power steering is yet another notch in the M4 Competition coupé’s belt, which is at its best in its Comfort setting, offering a nice amount of weight while being very direct.

Naturally, this set-up can become heavier in Sport and heavier again in Sport Plus if that’s your thing. Either way, feel is rather good. Yep, the M4 Competition coupé is good at communication – and many, many other things.

Safety

Ferrari 4888/10

In terms of active safety the various driver aids mentioned above do their part to avoid a crash, and if the worst comes to worst dual front and side airbags are in place.

The 488 Spider has not been rated for safety performance by ANCAP.


BMW M49/10

Neither ANCAP nor its European counterpart, Euro NCAP, have given the M4 Competition coupé a safety rating yet.

That said, its advanced driver-assist systems do extend to front autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with intersection assist and pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep and steering assist (including emergency), adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, road-sign recognition, high-beam assist, active blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert, Reversing Assist, park assist, rear AEB, surround-view cameras, front and rear parking sensors, and tyre-pressure monitoring.

Other standard safety equipment includes six airbags (dual front, side and curtain), anti-skid brakes (ABS), brake assist and the usual electronic stability and traction control systems, with the latter coming with 10 stages.

Ownership

Ferrari 4889/10

The Ferrari 488 Spider is covered by a three year/unlimited km warranty, and purchase of any new Ferrari via the authorized Australian dealer network includes complimentary scheduled maintenance, through the ‘Ferrari Genuine Maintenance’ program for the first seven years of the vehicle’s life.

Recommended maintenance intervals are 20,000km or 12 months (the latter with no km restrictions).

Genuine Maintenance attaches to the individual vehicle, and extends to any subsequent owner within the seven years. It covers labour, original parts, engine oil and brake fluid.


BMW M47/10

As with all BMW models, the M4 Competition coupé comes with a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is two years behind the premium standard set by Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Land Rover, Jaguar and Genesis.

That said, three years of roadside assistance is also included with the M4 Competition, which has service intervals of every 12 months or 15,000km (whichever comes first).

To sweeten the deal, five-year/80,000km capped-price servicing plans are available from $3810, or $762 per visit, which is fairly reasonable, all things considered.