A fantastic dual-character coupe from BMW.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
We first met BMW’s 4-series in 2013. For those who are still confused, the 4-series is just what used to be the 3-series coupe. But then, you say, what’s with the 4-series Gran Coupe, which is a 4-door coupe. Oh BMW? What hast thou done? Anyway, if the pictures didn’t already tell the story, this is about the true 4-series coupe. The one with two doors.
Wider and with a longer wheelbase than its predecessor, the new 440’s low-slung silhouette looks absolutely stunning. The design is just right in my opinion, using a long hood, short overhangs and a passenger compartment set well back to achieve near perfection in the styling department. I never do a double take at white or silver BMWs because that’s what everyone seems to buy, but the coupe in Glacier Silver Metallic looked stunning.
If you look hard, you’ll notice mild exterior changes like a bigger central intake on the front end and the lauded LED headlights (I got the optional adaptive ones) which are still encircled by the traditional daytime running light rings. The new rear end looks more elongated and really emphasizes the coupe’s sleek lines and wide track. The new shape of the LED tail lights plays a role in that as well. Speaking of wide, check out the staggered rubber on those lovely 19-inch rims – the fronts are not-insubstantial 225s, while the rears are 255s. Yummy!
Overall, I wouldn’t change a thing about the car’s lines or proportions and it gets a lot of looks on the street.
Once you get into the 440, you won’t find any surprises. A very familiar cockpit, including clear gauges and a very business-like approach to everything. The materials are nice, but the whole package comes across as a bit cold and detached and it clearly puts function over form in almost every way. This is more obvious than ever if you’ve spent time in recent Mercedes-Benz or Audi offerings.
The seats are fantastic – I found them very comfortable and offer tremendous bolstering for aggressive driving as well – and the optional merino leather is very nice. They look really cool too, with panels of different materials. While I’m gushing, let’s talk about the steering wheel. It looks great, and more importantly, it functions very well.
BMW has continued to polish its iDrive system, and it has become one of the better control systems in my opinion – once you get used to it. The widescreen jutting out of the dash is crisp and bright, and the harman/kardon sound system is very good. There’s a wireless charging cradle (and a wifi hotspot) built into the armrest.
Optioned like mine, the 440 comes with solid driver assistance technology – a surround-view camera with parking sensors, active blind spot detection, active cruise control, heads-up display and active high-beams.
Flip the front seat forward and you’ll find that dropping into the rear seating area is a learned exercise. It’s easiest to step in, duck to avoid whacking your cranium on that low roofline and twisting into the seat. Here’s you’ll find only two seats, with an open console/bin between them.
The leg room is generous – when you add it to the substantial foot space under the front seats, it makes for a relatively comfortable back seat. Unsurprisingly, head room was just adequate for me at 5’10”. Anyone taller than me will be bumping up against the headliner. It’s pretty spartan back there. A couple of adjustable air vents and a folding armrest in the middle and that’s about it. No charging ports, no heated seats – and that seems a bit chintzy for a $75,000 coupe, even if BMW doesn’t think those rear seats will be used a lot.
The 445L trunk has a power trunk-lid opener (you’ll have to manually close it though), and I found the space quite ample and usable for a sporty coupe.
Under the Hood
One of BMW’s fabled turbocharged 3L straight-6s sits under the hood. In this configuration, it cranks out 355HP and 360 lb.ft of torque (available at a low 1380 RPM). These numbers are 35 HP and 30 lb.ft higher than the stock 440’s, thanks to the M Performance package. The car comes standard with an 8-speed automatic transmission but you can order it with a no-cost manual if you want. Mine sent the power to all four corners, courtesy of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system.
Fuel economy is not bad at all. BMW rates it at 11.2 L/100 km in the city and 7.6 L/100 km on the highway. I was able to achieve an average of around 12.5 L/100 km with mostly conservative driving around town. That dropped to around 15 L/100 km when I decided to have some fun and drive with a heavier foot. Which is when the slightly disappointing 60L fuel tank capacity caught my attention – it can be drained rather quickly when enjoying the fruits of the substantial powertrain.
BMW has succeeded in making the 440 a charming dual-personality coupe. It’s comfortable, quiet and competent. But put it in Sport (or better yet, Sport+) mode, and you’ll find yourself at the helm of a highly responsive, sharp-edged performer that’s ready to do battle. It’s quick after a split-second of lag off the line – it has been timed doing the 0-100 km/h run in about 4.8 seconds. And it must be said – the M Performance exhaust is absolutely terrific if you enjoy the sounds that engines can make. Firing it up results in a sharp bark, which quickly dies down to a quiet burble. But in the Sport and Sport+ driving modes, it becomes an animal. I loved the deep, brassy rasp under throttle and the flatulent burps between shifts and if that didn’t get you enough attention on the street, wait until you let off the gas and you’re rewarded with an almost tuner-like effervescent cackling from the exhaust. It’s loud, it’s brash and it’s a lot of fun. And as I said, it can be turned off as quickly as changing the drive mode back to Comfort.
BMW’s transmission is smooth and fast, and is inevitably in the rear gear. It can be shifted manually using the gear selector or paddles, and it reacts very quickly considering it is not a dual-clutch unit. The 440’s retuned suspension (adaptive in my review car’s case, thanks to the M Performance package) is outstanding. It’s firm and comes across as more nimble and sporty than before, feeling taut when you want it to and perfectly comfortable when you’re trundling about town. The responsive steering does offer some feedback, although not M-car levels of feedback.
BMW really did a nice job calibrating things, particularly when you feel a somewhat portly 1751 kg coupe reacting to inputs as quickly as this one does. The M Performance brakes are outstanding and visibility out of the car is very good.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was very high, surprising considering she’s a wagon/hatchback fan and typically shuns coupes. She said it was stunning to look at and drove very well.
BMW has paired an incredibly polished drivetrain with a refined, beautiful coupe that even retains decent everyday practicality. In many ways, I found that the 440i, equipped as mine was, really negates many of the arguments for the overstyled M4. It has more than enough power for any situation, looks better and saves you some coin while being more comfortable on a daily basis.
While the 440i Coupe has much to offer and is an outstanding car in virtually every category, the competition is pretty hot in this category. As much as I’d love to have this coupe in my garage, I’d be cross-shopping and I’d take a long, long look at Benz’s C43 Coupe and the Audi S5. Both have snazzier interiors, and both left me with even sweeter driving memories. It’s a first-world problem of epic proportions.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by BMW Canada.
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Pricing: 2018 BMW 440i
Base price (xDrive Coupe trim): $58,350
Options: $6,000 Premium package enhanced; $1,500 Driver assistance package; $750 smartphone connectivity; $2,900 M Performance II package; $1,990 merino leather; $1,500 adaptive headlights; $1,000 active cruise control
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $76,335