The BMW 3-series, and now 4-series, is one of the longest running compact luxury four-seat convertibles in the market today. Since its launch in 1985, it has been the staple of a niche segment that has grown and shrunk. Models like the Volvo C70 and Lexus IS C have come and gone, and we are left with the German big three – BMW 4-series, Mercedes-Benz C-class, and Audi S5 – to share a piece of this delicious summer treat. We were treated to the all-new 2021 BMW M440i Cabriolet for a sun-soaked week.
The BMW M440i Cabriolet adopted the new BMW M3 and M4’s controversial front fascia. The oversized grille is a bit much for most, but if you can look past that, the rest of the M440i Cabriolet is absolutely gorgeous. The optional BMW Laserlight headlights look sleek, the body proportions are on point, and the 4-series’ rear end looks more sophisticated than either of its countrymates. With the switch over to a soft-top mechanism, the M440i Cabriolet’s styling now closely resembles its 8-series sibling, resulting in a classy and coherent family image.
Powered by a 3.0-litre M TwinPower Turbo inline six-cylinder engine that produces 382-horsepower and 368 lb-ft. of torque, the M440i Cabriolet accelerates in a manner that few would expect from a compact luxury convertible. Zero to 100 km/h is achieved in 4.5 seconds with a top speed of 250 km/h. Power comes on almost instantaneously with little lag and the eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission is incredibly smooth in delivering all that torque to the wheels.
We noted that it is best to let the transmission shift on its own, as BMW’s shift logic is quite intuitive and we observed a noticeable delay with the paddles. Traction was never a problem with the M sport differential directing power, and you get the sense that the car is constantly calculating how much power gets sent through to ensure corner exits are as fast as possible.
Steering on this generation’s 4-series is much improved from the previous generation. Road feel is still lacking but there is now good weight and accuracy. This generation sees a return to a soft-top roof design and BMW says the soft-top mechanism is 40 percent lighter than the retractable hardtop seen in the previous model. We can confirm the new M440i Cabriolet does feel nimbler to toss around. We love the convenience offered by the roof’s 18-second opening and closing process, and that it can be done at speeds up to 50 km/h.
BMW estimates that the M440i Cabriolet will consume 7.4L/100km of fuel over a combined setting, besting our 9.5L/100km observed figure. Even though premium fuel is required, a sub-10L/100km fuel consumption for a car with the performance pedigree the M440i boasts is still phenomenal and goes to show how efficient turbocharging technology has gotten.
As good as the powertrain is, the interior is where the M440i Cabriolet stands out. Everything is nicely laid out and easily reachable, and the Oyster Vernasca (read: white) leather interior is the perfect complement to the attention grabbing Frozen Portimao Blue paint. Materials feel premium throughout, and the optional Premium Excellence Package puts it over the top with comfort features such as the air collar, ambient lighting, head-up display, wireless charging pad, and an excellent Harman-Kardon surround sound system.
The BMW Operating System 7 infotainment is delivered using the 10.25-inch touchscreen display atop the centre console with commands accepted through speech, touch, or through BMW’s iDrive Touch rotary dial controller. It is one of the most intuitive systems in the market today. Most functions are within a click or two, and smartphone users can be integrated wirelessly using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
There is good comfort all around inside the M440i Cabriolet. It is noticeably larger in size to comfortably accommodate two up front, and the rear space is not necessarily a penalty box anymore. Its suspension is well tuned to absorb road imperfections and BMW has done well to isolate noise from entering into the cabin.
BMW emphasizes on the safety of occupants and surroundings and have developed a state-of-the-art driving assistant system. Onboard our tester is the optional Driving Assistant Professional that adds Steering and Lane Control Assistant, Lane Change and Emergency Stop Assistant, and Lane Keeping Assistant. It also includes active side collision protection systems to the standard Driving Assistant features, as well as the optional Parking Assistant Plus with Surround View to help drivers. Hopefully these features can become standard in the near future as they are excellent in preventing accidents on the road.
Pricing for the 2021 M440i Cabriolet starts at $72,750 and our tester included an expansive list of aesthetic enhancements and comfort features. The Frozen Portimao Blue is a $4,900 upgrade, black 19-inch wheels are $500, and the individual Shadowline Headlights, Piano Black Wood Trim, and high-gloss black exterior accents combine to cost $1,250. Add the $8,050 Premium Excellence Package to get to an as-tested total of $87,450.
We can do without the matte paint and gloss black exterior elements to bring the price to the low $80,000 range, a good value considering the performance and features on board. The M440i is competitively priced against similarly equipped Mercedes-AMG C 43 Cabriolet and Audi S5 Cabriolet. We suspect most buyers will choose based on the badge on the hood rather than thoroughly analyzing spec sheets.
The 2021 BMW M440i Cabriolet continues on with the brand’s tradition of offering a sporty yet comfortable summer cruiser. It has class-leading performance to go along with a sophisticated package that is surely going to impress occupants. As for the styling, we suspect the new design will grow on us as we start to see more of them on the road, and time will tell whether it can age as well as its predecessors.