The 4-series has always been a platform with which BMW breaks tradition.
What is the quickest and easiest way to grab everyone’s attention? Be the best in class? Pioneering new technology? How about making a funny face? Let’s address the elephant in the room right off the bat. This 2021 BMW M440i xDrive swept the automotive industry by storm even before it was officially released. From leaked photos to the official 4-series concept, the controversial new front grille design has stunned everyone garnering conversations both good and bad.
The 4-series has always been a platform with which BMW breaks tradition. With such a polarizing design, the new M440i better have the goods to reel in enthusiasts before they brush it off as BMW’s publicity stunt. I am happy to report that BMW is back form after being accused of going soft back almost a decade ago. BMW aims to deliver the ultimate driving experience, and the second generation M440i will please everyone from posers to enthusiasts.
The all new second generation BMW 4 -eries is designed to be wide and low, sitting longer and wider than its predecessor as well as the outgoing 3-series. The striking large kidney grilles are to accommodate the cooling needs of the powerplant. The grille itself has a 3D frame with honeycomb mesh finished in Cerium Grey, and the lines on the hood are shaped to flow with the grille. The lower air intakes on both sides of the bumper finished with carbon fiber and designed to emphasize the width of the car.
Along with the sharp laser headlights housing U-shaped fiber optic daytime running lights the front end is menacing. New BMW designs use clean lines that flow into a raked rear end with a carbon fiber lip spoiler. The rear end of the M440i emphasizes the width with L-shaped LEDs stretching into the quarter panels. The M440i is designed with details on every corner of the car that add to its character. The entire package here is finished in beautiful Dravit Grey Metallic with a golden glitter when the sun hits to highlight the car’s muscular bulges.
The interior of the M440i is more of a cockpit design with an emphasis on quality. Leather is found on every part of the interior, and our tester’s interior is two tone with a black dash contrasting with Tacora Red leather seating, door inserts and armrests. Breaking up the organic materials are high quality brushed aluminum pieces around the air vents, door handle, center console and steering wheel. The use of materials is an excellent mix of high quality taking luxury miles ahead of the previous generation.
The new shifter is much better ergonomically and fits in hand much more comfortably. The instrument cluster is a fully digital 12.3-inch display that can be customized to display details such as navigation, infotainment or driver assistance. The dash now flows into the 10.25-inch center infotainment screen for a more unified design. The M440i comes standard with Live Cockpit Professional which enhances navigation with 3D visuals, depicting all cars and trucks registered by cameras and to enhance driver awareness.
The updated iDrive 7 infotainment system has improved maps and navigation with cloud based enhancements to improve route calculation and real time traffic data. Mobile phone integration is finally complete in BMW with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility over a wireless connection. It works great, but do note that it drains your phone battery quickly, so you’ll want to use the wireless charging pad.
A welcome change is standard driver assistance features which were historically optional extras. Included is lane departure warning with steering correction, frontal collision and pedestrian warning with braking function, as well as blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, automatic high beams and speed limit information. The Advanced Driver Assistance package will add Active Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Extended Traffic Jam Assist, lane keeping assistant with side collision avoidance, evasion aid, front cross-traffic alert, and emergency stop assistant.
After a week with the 440i, I can confidently say BMW did not sell us short on their promise of an ultimate driving experience. Significant effort is placed into improving chassis stiffness and keeping weight down by using a combination of stamped and phased steel with aluminum. Additional bracing is added to ensure the suspension can work with the stiffest platform possible. Aluminum is also used for the hood, fenders and doors. Equipped with M suspension, drivers can choose between comfort to sport damping.
The xDrive all-wheel-drive system adds another level of confidence with its ability to constantly vary torque between the front and rear wheels. The level of grip feels endless, and reaching the limits of adhesion is impossible on public roads. The combination is a car that can handle long distance comfort cruising to a highly dynamic sport set up. The results are incredibly balanced handling characteristics; the M440i is light on its feet and willing to dance, which is a a huge step up from the previous generation.
Steering feel is another area of significant improvement for the 4-series. The speed sensitive electric power steering has been tuned for much better feel and on center characteristics. Feel is better but still can’t be compared to hydraulic steering. The previous generation had a huge dead zone on center where the steering feels light and disconnected, but the steering is now direct and responsive with excellent turn in.
The powerplant for the M440i is the renowned B58 turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine with three litres of displacement. The motor produces 382 horsepower from 5,800 to 6,500RPM with torque output of 369 lb-ft. from 1,800 to 5,000RPM, propelling the M440i from 0 to 100km/h in 4.5-seconds. Engine technology such as Valvetronic and double VANOS with twin scroll turbochargers are all seen on previous engines before. For this version, BMW added a 48-volt mild hybrid system.
The system uses a 48-volt starter generator with an additional 11 horsepower boost during hard acceleration. The power is put to the ground through BMW’s perfectly tuned eight-speed automatic transmission with launch control. The addition of an M differential distributes power between left and right for maximum grip. The transmission is features an optimized hydraulic control system to improve response and smoothness, and the M440i is notably more responsive with immediate torque and lightning quick shifts.
The BMW M440i starts at $64,950. Our tester comes equipped with the Premium Excellence package at $8,500 which adds all of the bells and whistles. Additional options include $950 for the Enhanced Track Package and a $2,900 Carbon Exterior Package, for a grand total of $79,000 as tested. Competition such as Audi’s S5 coupe starts at $64,950 and the Mercedes-AMG C 43 at $64.400. Pricing is very similar but the BMW is the clear winner with its new tech and most advanced chassis tuning – if you can get past the way that it looks.
The new BMW M440i xDrive is truly the ultimate driving experience, delivering a package with segment leading handling characteristics, powertrain and interior luxuries. The level of confidence and performance the M440i provides makes this a bargain. The xDrive casts a huge safety net allowing a wide range of drivers to explore the performance this car has to offer. The interior craftsmanship is impeccable.
There is truly something here for all kinds of drivers to appreciate, from the regular driver who wants luxury to an enthusiast who wants true performance. Those who overlook this car because of the way the grille looks are making a huge mistake and missing out. Seeing this car in person will allow many to appreciate the lines and overall stance instead of the grille alone. The 2021 BMW M440i xDrive is absolutely the best in its class right now.