Lively M440i noses ahead of luxury coupe competition …
Back in the day (old dudes expression) BMW’s 2002 coupe wasn’t so grand, it was just light and lively and sold like schnitzel in Munich.
Now the German brand’s M440i xDrive is a Gran Coupe that is less light, but awfully lively with 382 horsepower compared with 99 in that original 1960s model. It’s everything a sporting driver could want in a compact Gran Coupe, and I’m sorry, but I like the nose. Then again I liked the Edsel’s nose, back in the day.
Sadly almost every review of BMW’s 4 Series hot rod dwells on its two large kidney-shaped grilles that dominate its beak. Journalists who may have praised the Pontiac Aztek’s dramatic looks or Chrysler’s PT Cruiser for its daring retro design are whining that this nose is “too much.”
They forget that nearly all of today’s luxury makes, and a growing number of others, now tout massive grilles, usually featuring a logo the size of a human head at their middle. Some look better than others.
I also recall both BMW using similar designs in the past and those being considered Iconic. Even Pontiac (remember Ponty?) often used similar styling on its noses, considered sporty, back in the day.
So let’s move beyond the nose. Besides, all the young guys I asked Loved the nose and instantly knew this M440i was a Bimmer. I’m pretty sure BMW’s marketing folks would consider that a success.
This sharp-looking fastback IS fast, nimble and delivers a surprisingly comfortable ride, all at a decidedly luxury price tag.
First, Gran Coupe’s silhouette oozes speed and sleekness as the rear window and roofline blends right into the short trunk lid. But it’s not just the trunk lid that opens. No, that entire structure, window and trunk open like a hatch. It’s massive, but works fine. Of course the rear seats split and fold in case long cargo needs transported.
Yet it’s unlikely that M440i buyers are primarily seeking cargo carriers.
No, the Gran Coupe is for ripping along highways and rural roads at speed, cornering like it’s a racer. That’s why there’s a twin-turbo 3.0-liter I6 beneath its long snout. As mentioned prior, the turbomeister cranks 382 horses and delivers 369 pound-feet of torque, yet does it so smoothly via the 8-speed automatic that you’ll barely notice when you hit 100+ on a freeway entry ramp. Don’t ask how I know.
Now if you’d care to save some coin and maybe get slightly better gas mileage, a 2.0-liter I4 that makes “just” 255 horses is available in the base BMW 430i, but it’s just rear-wheel-drive.
This M440i xDrive comes with all-wheel-drive, hence the xDrive moniker. That assures all the power is delivered to the appropriate wheels once roads becoming slippery. I’m looking at you Wisconsin.
It seems to me that through the years BMW has softened its ride and steering in most models, just enough to make them feel plush and luxurious on normal Midwest roads. However, the sporty nature is always there, as is the power. This M440i is all that.
Ride is comfortable in all modes (Comfort, Eco Pro, Adaptive), save for Sport. That firms the steering and ride. Steering tightening is welcome, but the firmer suspension setting makes the ride overly stiff. Stick with Comfort for normal driving, or Adaptive that supposedly chooses the appropriate gearing, steering input and ride quality that is called for at any instant.
In any case there is a sport suspension here with struts up front and a fine multi-link system in back – well-controlled, never punishing!
Inside the BMW remains sophisticated and well laid out. Seating is tan leather while the entire interior runs with a black over tan theme. So the dash and door tops are black, the tan trim below that, plus satin chrome trim on dash and doors with a bit of black wood on the passenger’s side dash. That wood is featured on the console’s top too, again with satin chrome trim.
Dash layout is simple and the infotainment screen is a 10.3-incher and easy to see and adjust. There are 8 radio preset buttons below the screen and a small volume control knob for the radio. There’s also a volume adjustment on the steering wheel hub.
Oddly the seats are manually adjusted with a couple handles on the seat’s side and a bar under the lower cushion. I’d expect power at this price. Seats are comfortable and supportive, as you’d expect in a performance-oriented coupe. They also are heated, but not cooled, again something I’d expect at this level.
BMW’s steering wheel is heated too, with a button nestled just below the center hub. However, this is a standard round wheel, where a sportier flat-bottomed wheel makes sense.
There’s also a good-sized sunroof overhead and a wireless charger just below the center stack. An inside trunk release button is on the driver’s door.
Gas mileage was surprisingly good for a performance car. I got 25.5 mpg in about 60% highway driving, but with several heavy acceleration bursts (solely for test purposes). Sadly to get its full horsepower this twin-turbo prefers premium (93 octane). The EPA rates the car at 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway, which beats all the SUVs and most of the non-hybrid crossovers.
So what are the damages here?
Not so rough at the entry 430i level with the lower horsepower engine and RWD. The base is $46,195, while the tested M440i xDrive jumps to $59,195, including delivery.
But this one was a snazzy dark metallicSan Remo Green that added $550, plus there were six other options that jumped the M440i to $67,520. Most surprising was a $350 add-on for a Sensa-Tec dash, which translates to soft vinyl. Again, I would expect that to be standard.
A nice addition for $875 is the fine Harman Kardon surround sound audio system, much less costly than the $3,200 Volvo wanted for its Bowers & Wilkins system upgrade in the XC60 a few weeks ago. Ouch!
Other add-ons include a $2,400 cooling and high-performance tire package with an upgraded M sport suspension and performance tires, plus fancy double-spoke, bi-color alloy wheels, along with a parking assistance package for $700 that adds a surround view camera and parking sensors.
A driving assistance professional package adds front cross-traffic alert, smart cruise control with Stop & Go, active driving assistant pro, an evasion aid, active lane keeping assist with side collision avoidance, traffic jam assistant and extended traffic jam assistant, for $1,700. I suspect the smart cruise control is optional as BMW designs its cars for enthusiastic drivers who may not want that feature standard.
Finally, for $1,750 the premium package adds a head-up display, the heated front seats and steering wheel, ambient lighting and gesture control technology, which may make you think it won’t allow you to give other drivers hand gestures. Would that it could stop that. But it really allows a driver to make a sweeping motion to turn the radio’s volume up or down, decline a phone call or change a rear camera angle.
Without all the doodads an M440i xDrive could be had in the low $60,000 range and while that’s a luxury price tag, it’s a bargain for this amount of performance.
FAST STATS: 2022 BMW M440i xDrive Gran Coupe
Hits: Sharp fastback styling, super acceleration, sporty handling and good ride. Heated wheel and seats, multiple drive modes, wireless charger, sophisticated interior with big screen, sunroof, and supportive seats.
Misses: Prefers premium unleaded, price. Plus needs flat-bottom wheel, cooled seats and powered seats.
Made in: Dingolfing, Germany
Engine: 3.0-liter twin turbo I6, 382 hp/369 torque
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Weight: 4,169 lbs.
Wheelbase: 112.4 in.
Length: 188.5 in.
Cargo: 12.0 cu.ft.
MPG: 25.5 (tested)
Base Price: $59,195 (includes delivery)
San Remo Green Metallic paint, $550
Cooling, high-performance tire package (M tech pkg, adaptive M suspension & tire mobility kit, P245/40R19 Front & P255/40R19 rear high-perf tires, M double-spoke bi-color style 861M alloy wheels), $2,400
Driving assistance professional package (front cross-traffic alert, smart cruise control w/Stop & Go, active driving assistant pro, evasion aid, active lane keeping assist w/side collision avoidance, traffic jam assistant & extended traffic jam assistant), $1,700
Parking assistance package (surround view camera w/3D view, active park distance control & parking assistant plus), $700
Premium package (gesture control technology, HUD, ambient lighting, heated front seats & steering wheel), $1,750
SensaTec dashboard, $350
Harman Kardon surround sound, $875
Test vehicle: $67,520
Sources: BMW, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage