Sunday, April 11, 2021
Reviews 2021 BMW M440i xDrive Coupe Review: Almost Feels Like Self-Sabotage

2021 BMW M440i xDrive Coupe Review: Almost Feels Like Self-Sabotage

Beyond the new BMW 4 Series’ controversial front-end lies the BMW you wants

  • The BMW 4 Series Coupe is priced from $53,650 in Canada, $45,650 in the US.

  • This car received more hate than any other in 2020.

  • In many ways, it is the perfect embodiment of the modern BMW.

About a year ago, the first renderings and spy images of the new G22 2nd generation BMW 4 Series surfaced, and with fewer exceptions than The Rock has hairs on his scalp, everyone had a negative comment to make. We are guilty as charged but we were secretly hoping that the new 2022 BMW 4 Series was going to look better in person.

2021 BMW M440i xDrive Coupe | Photo: Olivier Delorme

We promise that we’d hoped to avoid writing up a paragraph or more on this car’s design but it’s frankly not possible. What has not helped the 4 Series’ fate is that BMW has said that they are aware of the hate and that only 20% of potential buyers appreciate the design.

About design

Design, as we go forward, will become, more than ever, the key differentiator for automakers and consumers. Mergers, joint ventures, and partnerships are blurring lines between automakers as far as powertrain, platforms and other technologies are concerned. The only remaining proprietary element is, and will remain, design. Now, I don’t mean to forgive and forget BMW’s styling decision but this is now the face of BMW. This is how it will be recognized.

We’ve found that there’s only one way to soften the visual blow imparted by the oversize kidney grille. From a ¾ front angle, at beltline level, the 4 Series’ full length softens the front-end’s imposing size. From all other points of view, the one element is always prominently featured, or nearly. Some photoshop-savvy folks have grafted an F32 grille on the G22 and with little doubt, this is what the car should have looked like.

2021 BMW M440i xDrive Coupe | Photo: Olivier Delorme

All controversies are discussions end once onboard. BMW has long shared interior layouts and fitments between all its cars. This is still the case today. The 2021 4 Series’ dashboard is typical BMW fare where functionality and design interact almost seamlessly. The iDrive 7 controls and menu are, as always, a little convoluted but can be tamed with practice and time.

Of most importance on board is the driving position. Sitting behind the fat-rimed steering wheel, there can be no doubt that the main task is driving. In fact, the driving position is perfect and all-encompassing. The room onboard is good upfront and although the rear near-bucket seats in the rear look inviting, there’s precious little room back there for normal adults – blame the photographer for the illusion.

Premium pricing and content

Concentrating on the M440i xDrive, which starts at $64,950, buyers are entitled to a comprehensive list of standard features. The important key elements are the 12.3-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a 12.3-inch digital cockpit, and loads more tech. As far as included equipment, the M440i xDrive is well-kitted however there are always options as demonstrated by my tester which was priced at $78,495.

2021 BMW M440i xDrive Coupe | Photo: Olivier Delorme

The Premium Excellence package includes a Harman/Kardon audio system, BMW Laserlight headlights, leather dashboard, and much more. It is largely responsible for the price boost and is the main reason an M440i spec’d this way is difficult to accept. Also fitted to this car is the M Enhanced Track Package which, in this case, is well worth the investment.

M-like performance

Let’s keep this in mind: A new 2021 BMW M4 Coupé is priced from $85,100. The M4, with the manual transmission, with its 473 horsepower, reaches 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds. The M440i xDrive’s twin-power turbocharged 3.0-litre 6-cylinder produces 382 horsepower between 5,800 and 6,500 rpm and a generous 369 lb.-ft. of torque which is on tap from 1,800 rpm to 5,000 rpm. With the eBoost 48V mild-hybrid technology, 8-speed automatic transmission, and xDrive AWD, the M440i crosses 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds.

As you can imagine, the thrust from the engine is relentless. Despite the non-stop push, the power is not overwhelming and is satisfying to exploit. Unlike the recently-driven M8 Competition, it is possible to explore the depth of throttle-pedal travel for more than a half-second with the M440i.

2021 BMW M440i xDrive Coupe | Photo: Olivier Delorme

The power is what will sell the car, if anything. The driving experience is brilliant if being mostly disconnected from the actual mechanical happenings are your thing. This is the new BMW and it’s the one that pleases buyers. Steering is heavy and isolated for the most part. Now, as part of the M Enhanced Track Package, the M440i gains M Sport brakes and the Adaptive M suspension.

The brakes provide immense stopping power, a useful feature in this car. But they do not represent the most worthwhile element in the package. I’ve often driven BMWs with adaptive dampers and have always praised their abilities. I’ve also reviewed a BMW that was without and the experience was terrible. The adaptive dampers expand the 4 Series’ chassis talents and abilities to truly be considered a daily-drivable high-performance car.

Is it sabotage?

More than perhaps any other brand, BMWs have changed their focus. There’s no need to lament the past here, we can only take a step back and consider what a modern BMW means to a modern BMW driver. And the new 4 Series perfectly embodies the sense of speed and power in an isolated cocoon. What I’m trying to say is that today’s BMW is as good to drive as they were 25+ years ago when “good to drive” meant something very different.

2021 BMW M440i xDrive Coupe | Photo: Olivier Delorme

BMW knew full-well that the new 4 Series would be this good, in fact, everyone did, so why would they graft such a divisive fascia to it? Did BMW purposefully want to create exclusivity for the 4 Series by fitting such a scandalously-sized grille to it? They must have anticipated the backlash… Then again, BMW thinks that Bangle-era designs are now being looked back on with fondness.

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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai


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