That front grille. We’ll get to it. But first, how good is this new generation 2021 BMW M440i xDrive?
Engine – This new G22 generation of the 4-series is a bit more of an evolution rather than a revolution. It still utilizes a 3.0L turbocharged inline-6 cylinder engine like the old F32 generation. But this engine is more powerful at 382 hp & 368 lb-ft of torque (285 kW / 500 Nm) and now comes with a 48-Volt mild hybrid system.
The hybrid system does not mean that the M440i can drive on electricity alone. Instead, this hybrid system aids the engine when accelerating and to maximize fuel efficiency. While the turbocharged engine gets up to speed, the electric motor helps with providing a small boost in power until. As well, the electric motor fills in the gaps between shifts so that there is no loss in acceleration while changing gears.
However, when your foot is not pressed down all the way onto the throttle pedal, the electric motor aids in returning up to 7.7 L/100km (30.5 MPG) of efficiency on a highway and 10.5 L/100km (22.4 MPG) in a city. Very good numbers for an almost 400 hp engine. If the car is in EcoPro mode and you’re cruising on a highway, the engine actually shuts off every time you lift off the throttle pedal. As well, the electric motor is used for the auto start/stop feature making it extremely smooth and seamless.
Transmission – Swapping cogs is an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission. This is a fantastic transmission. While it’s not a dual-clutch, the shifts are ferociously quick. As well, because of the aid from the electric motor, you don’t feel the shifts. This transmission did not make me miss the dual-clutch that is found in the old generation M4, also the new generation M4 uses the same ZF 8-speed auto.
Braking – The 2021 BMW M440i is equipped with fixed 4-piston front calipers that bite down hard on the brake discs. Braking is also one of the ways that the small battery for the electric motor gets recharged. You don’t notice the transition between regen braking and physical braking. The brake pedal is what you’d expect from a BMW vehicle; firm and confidence inspiring. Although this is a sporty luxury coupe and as such it has strong brakes, the brake pedal is fairly easy to modulate for smooth stops during daily commutes. Automatic emergency braking is a standard feature on the BMW M440i.
Handling – Of course, what BMW vehicles are mostly known for are their handling dynamics. I’m pleased to say that this 2021 BMW M440i xDrive feels like how a BMW car should feel like from behind the steering wheel.
The steering weight is pretty much perfect. It’s not overly light but it’s not so heavy that maneuvering at slow speeds feels like you’ve just been at the gym. The response is immediate, even minute turns of the steering wheel quickly & directly translate to changes in the front wheels.
Even with the xDrive AWD system, the M440i feels like a proper rear-wheel-drive vehicle. Majority of the power is sent to the back wheels but the stability & traction control systems still let you have a bit of fun before reducing the engine’s power to keep the car in control. With the sport traction & stability control system on, the computer tries to rotate the back end of the car for better and faster corner exit acceleration. Unfortunately the 2021 BMW M440i is not available as a rear-wheel-drive only vehicle but with the xDrive AWD system, the car can better put its power down to the tarmac. As well, it is still a lot of fun to drive on a winding road.
Ride Comfort – With the “M Enhanced Package”, the 2021 BMW M440i gets equipped with adaptive M suspension. In its softest setting, the ride is noticeably firmer than other non-sporty luxury coupes but it’s not an uncomfortable ride. Taking the wife or girlfriend on a long trip will not end with a sore back.
Switch the suspension to Sport mode and the ride is, again, noticeably firmer still. However, while you may want to play “Minesweeper” around bigger potholes, you can still drive with the suspension on its stiffest setting around city streets.
The seats, however, provide the most comfort. They are plush but also supportive. There are multiple lumbar adjustments, side bolster adjustments, and thigh extensions.
Interior Space – Front occupants are treated with the vast majority of the cabin space. At 6’4”, I have loads of leg room & head room even with the sunroof. There’s also very good visibility all around the car. The rear ¾ windows are large so blind zones are quite small next to the M440i. The car is also equipped with blind spot sensors for an extra layer of protection.
The back seats, however, are nowhere near as comfortable as the front seats. Leg room is pretty much non-existent if a taller adult like myself is in the front. You could drop the 40/20/40 split fold rear seats for more cargo space as the trunk is relatively small at 340 L (12 cu-ft) of cargo space.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – Squeaks and rattles are non-existent in the 2021 BMW M440i. All of the trim pieces are well put together and have a feeling of a solid build quality. Road and wind noise is well subdued with minimal intrusions into the cabin but it’s the engine noise that left me a bit disappointed.
Last year, I drove the BMW M340i but it didn’t have the 48-Volt mild hybrid system. It had the same gasoline engine as this M440i however, it made much more exciting pops, bangs, and crackles when accelerating, shifting, and decelerating. This M440i doesn’t do any of that. It sounds smooth and at higher rpms, it sounds like a traditional Inline-6 engine. But the M340i from last year sounded a bit more exciting.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – The 2021 BMW M440i xDrive starts at $64,950 CAD ($58,500 USD). This particular demo vehicle came equipped with the Premium Excellence & M Enhanced Track packages for $8,500 CAD & $4,950 CAD respectively. In the United States, the features are packaged a bit differently than here in Canada and there are more stand-alone options.
The Premium Excellence package adds features like a power operated trunk, ambient lighting, wireless phone charging, Gesture control, WiFi hotspot, Harmon Kardon sound system, Traffic jam assist, driving assistant pro, parking assistant plus and BMW laser headlights. My favorite feature that this package adds – although it is available as part of the Advanced Driver Assistance package – is the Drive recorder. Essentially it’s a dashcam but instead of just looking at the front, it also records to the side and rear using the surround view cameras. Speaking of which, you can have a 3D model of the M440i in the surround view cameras menu that allows you to look around the car.
Interior Design – The interior of the 2021 BMW M440i takes a lot of its inspiration from the BMW M850i. In fact, all current generation BMW cars look pretty much the same on the inside. Some would argue that it’s conservative – especially when compared to a Mercedes-Benz interior – but for me, it’s a good looking interior. There’s just enough ambient lighting, the climate & media controls are straightforward to use as are the drive mode controls. Sometimes simplicity is the best way to do things.
Exterior Design – That front end. It caused a lot of controversy when it was first revealed. Majority of people on the internet hated the “buck tooth” look of the new BMW kidney grilles. I was one of those critics. I am not denying that. However, after seeing the front of the car in person, I actually like the look of the front grille. I particularly like that fact that BMW took a huge risk with the design. I know I’m in the minority when I say that I like it but it has grown on me and only time will tell if it will grow on others.
The rest of the car is fairly traditional. It has a sloping roofline as is characteristic of luxury coupes. The side panels though don’t have very many lines when compared to the last generation of 4-series. The back looks very much like it’s 4-door brother, the 3-series, but with more intricate tail lights.
Warranty – All BMW vehicles come equipped with a 4 year / 80,000 km new vehicle warranty in Canada. In the United States, it’s 4 years or 50,000 miles. This warranty covers everything from paint defects, to upholstery defects to powertrain components. BMW vehicles also come with a 12 year / unlimited mileage rust perforation warranty. This warranty is the same in Canada and the United States.
Overall, I like the 2021 BMW M440i xDrive. It drives really well, I like the interior even though it is a bit on the conservative side, and I even like the front grille. It starts at around the same price as the Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG Coupe & Audi S5 but if you can get past the front grille, it’s the best of the bunch.
Thank you to BMW Canada for providing the vehicle. www.BMW.ca