The beasty boys are back and the BMW M4 really sets the standard, writes Ian Mallon
THE uplift in the economy, or the end of the bust as some rather optimistic types like to put it, can be measured in many ways.
I prefer the "chrome exhaust count at the end of your car" method.
Yes, we all know that property prices are rising fast, traffic in and around the capital is gridlocked between the hours of 7am and 10am and 4.30pm and 7pm and credit cards are once again a practical spending device rather than a dirty word.
There are of course many ways to measure any upturn - holiday bookings, retail spending and car sales, for example.
But for me it really comes down to the return of cars with the same number of exhausts as wheels.
And there is nothing better than the M-Series by BMW to illustrate this.
The return of an M model to my drive was the biggest demonstration that fortunes are moving north again; I looked out of my window last week and saw a BMW M4 winking back at me.
It's no coincidence that there were no Ms in the driveway for the past few years as high-maintenance dream machines had no place in a society where even bog-standard autos weren't selling.
However, the first chink of light and they're back - and boy, they're greater than before.
This one is an M4, and it is in a kind of garish green colour, but even that hue only heightens the senses. This is an M and it needs to be loud, overstated and completely in your face.
Speaking of loud, wait until you hear the bark from the engine of this 431bhp beast.
Fire her up, drop the hammer and this two-door piece of awesomeness is capable of a heart-stopping 0-100km/h in four seconds. Yes, FOUR SECONDS.
Such great power and acceleration are controlled by a delicious seven-speed Double Clutch Transmission - it says a lot about the technologies of today that these extraordinary gearboxes do not give a hint when the gears are changing.
Of course, the M4 is not just all about the engine, it is about the look too, and there are very few new models out there that look quite this good.
This is a delicious car thanks to a number of super extras including 19-inch M double-spoked alloys.
And there are plenty of little gimmicks on board to titillate the senses including side cameras - I have no idea what they're for, maybe for those unable to turn their heads from side to side.
There is also a glorious M embedded at the head of the front seats that lights up in glorious illumination when you get in - again, another pointless but beautiful feature.
Despite all its sportiness, the M4 is surprisingly practical.
For starters, it actually has enough room for four adults inside while the boot is decent enough too with 445 litres of luggage space available.
The sloping roofline on the coupe may pose a problem for the lankier driver as those over six-foot will have to adjust the seat to an inch of its life to stop their heading rubbing off the ceiling.
Little gripes, you'll agree, as this is all about raw power.
So, just one question remains - now that the recession is over, how many M4s will be sold this year? Well, that is a whole other ball game.
The BMW M4 starts at €100,040.
aUdi and VW have issued recalls. Some 1,256 Polo 1.2 TDIs 2010-2014 are being tested for a fuel filter problem while 2,740 A4s are having an airbag software update.