Track test: driving the ultra-limited edition BMW M4 DTM Champion Edition
When BMW Motorsport works driver Marco Wittman clinched the ferociously competitive German Touring Car Driver’s Championship in 2016, the Munich auto maker decided to celebrate Wittman’s title – his second – by producing a special, limited edition BMW M4. The result is the rather clumsily titled BMW M4 DTM Champion Edition.
Just 200 examples of the special M4 will be built, of which only 15 have been set aside for South Africa. Unsurprisingly, they’ve all been snapped up by eager collectors and BMW enthusiasts. But we were lucky enough to sample one of these exclusive machines, albeit within the confines of Port Elizabeth’s short and undulating Aldo Scribante race track.
What you get for a considerable outlay in hard-earned cash is a car that’s technically identical to the quite astonishing, ultra-advanced BMW M4 GTS. That car was also built in limited numbers – 700 to be precise – of which only 23 made it to our shores. So the DTM Champion Edition is a second, even more exclusive opportunity to own the ultimate M4.
You won’t mistake the M4 DTM Champion Edition for anything else. The livery is an adaptation of BMW Motorsport’s classic white, red and blue colour scheme, while the big alloy wheels are finished in black. There’s lots of carbon fibre detailing, too.
The visible carbon bits include the front splitter and rear wing, the fins on the leading edge of the wheel arches, the exterior mirror housings, the sill extensions and the rear diffusor. But the roof and the bonnet are also made of the lightweight material.
Compared to the GTS, the DTM car’s rear wing isn’t adjustable, while the front spoiler is also fixed, and less vulnerable.
That rear wing isn’t just for show: it actually produces significant downforce at speed to benefit overall stability and composure. In fact, every aspect of the M4 DTM Champion Edition oozes purpose and performance.
That also goes for the interior, which has the pared-down, spartan simplicity of a racing car, including carbon fibre bucket seats and a roll cage, which takes the place of the rear seat. Even so, the need for comfort has not been forgotten.
This M4 still comes with satnav, air-conditioning, adaptive LED headlights, remote central locking, and park distance control both front and rear. There’s lots of suede-like Alcantara trim and carbon fibre detailing, too.
Clearly, a key theme underpinning this special M4 is saving weight. With all that carbon fibre and the more purposeful interior treatment, the M4 DTM Champion Edition is not only a powerful machine, but a relatively lightweight one, too, shaving 27 kg off the standard M4’s kerb mass.
Obviously, that benefits this special Beemer’s power-to-weight ratio, but not as much as the extra output of the engine. The twin-turbo three-litre straight six now pumps out 368 kW of maximum power and 600 Nm of torque – figures identical to that of the GTS.
The engine delivers its horses to the rear wheels via a seven-speed M-DCT dual-clutch gearbox, with a shift action that can be adjusted between merely quick and outright percussive. Shift paddles make the process even more engaging.
The car’s underpinnings also include a suspension with three-way adjustable coil-over dampers, 19-inch front and 20-inch black-finished alloys with sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber, and powerful, fade-free ceramic disc brakes.
All of these changes combine to create a car that’s more racing machine than road warrior. The stats make for impressive reading: this M4 dashes from zero to 100 clicks in 3,8 seconds, and has a top speed capped at 305 km/h.
As always though, the straight line figures don’t tell the full story. While the standard M4 feels like a brutal road car, the DTM Champion Edition has all the hallmarks of a thoroughbred racer. There’s a singularity of purpose, a directness of feedback, and an uncompromising aggression that makes the standard M4 feel, well, rather tame by comparison.
For that very reason, this special M4 feels really at home on a track. Here, the uncompromising suspension, the razor-sharp steering, and the loud noise from the titanium exhaust system make perfect sense.
The Michelin tyres thrive on hard driving, only getting better as things get hotter, and the chassis responds with an undiluted immediacy that builds confidence.
Forget, just for a moment, that all 200 examples of the BMW M4 DTM Champion Edition have been sold. Would you, honestly, spend all that extra money on a car as uncompromising, as aggressive as this? No, it doesn’t make financial sense.
But yes, I’d buy it for the sheer thrill of driving it. Now where’s that lotto ticket …