The massive kidney grille is one of the few unique things about the new 4 Series.
Everyone criticizes the 2021 BMW 4 Series for the way it looks, and we get it. The two huge vertical kidneys are the most polarizing things we've seen on any new car recently. But we're less offended by that elongated schnozz than we are with how the rest of the new 4 Series drives and looks.
And that's a shame because there are some really impressive things to note, especially on the supposedly sporty M440i we tested. The turbocharged inline-six is one of the most powerful engines in its class, and the active safety equipment is among the best in the segment as well. But for a car this boldly styled, we expected more, and the M440i simply doesn't live up to the hype – certainly not for $71,000 as-tested.
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The front end of the BMW M440i isn't that bad, like we said. The LED headlights are sharp, the side vents are aggressive, and the vertical kidneys – for what they are – at least add some panache to a design that's incredibly uninspired otherwise. From the fascia back, the 4 Series has no definition, no distinct shape, and definitely no Hoffmeister kink; it's like BMW inserted generic coupe here.
This BMW looks a bit better from the back, at least, with swooping taillights that extend from the rear valance to the center of the trunk lid, joined by dual exhaust tips and a subtle lip spoiler. But the smooth, polished styling of the side profile and rear bumper doesn't jive with the angular front fascia.
The interior isn't all that unique, but it is clean, concise, and familiar. If you've been in any modern BMW – specifically the 3 Series on which this car is based – then everything should look the same. The most obvious carryover is the 10.3-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, both as part of the BMW Live Cockpit (a $3,700 option).
Beyond that, $1,450 Oyster Vernasca leather covers the lower portion of the dash and seats. A chintzy-looking Aluminum Tetragon trim piece runs horizontally above the white leather, and we're not fond of it. And while there are some nice, weighty aluminum fixtures, there's still too much hard black plastic in the center console and around the door panels.
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The seats in the M440i are fine; they're well-contoured, are high-quality with the optional Oyster leather equipped, and offer 14-way power adjustability with lumbar support. Not every Motor1 editor agrees with this take, to be fair, but your author finds most BMW buckets to be stiff and unsupportive, and that’s true here.
But the Adaptive M suspension (a $700 option) does exactly as advertised: adapts. It's one of the most variable setups we've tested, dramatically transitioning from buttery smooth and supportive in Eco Pro and Comfort modes, to crass and harsh in Sport and Sport Plus. When combined with the optional 19-inch wheels and ultra-thin Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires (a $1,500 option) in this case, the ride is a touch too rigid for daily use in the latter two drive modes, but that’s not uncommon or unexpected.
In terms of cabin space, the M440i feels surprisingly open. The 38.0 inches of front headroom and 41.8 inches of legroom put this car somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of tape-measured space, but the narrow A-pillar, slim center console, flat dash design, and large front windows make the front compartment feel more spacious than it actually is.
Compared to the second rows of the Infiniti Q60 and Lexus RC, the back seats in the Bimmer are actually usable. The 35.2 inches of headroom and 34.5 inches of legroom are more than enough in a pinch; your six-foot-tall author managed to sit comfortably in the rear seat for a few minutes without feeling claustrophobic.
With the $3,700 Executive package equipped, the M440i gets a 10.3-inch central touchscreen instead of the standard 8.8-incher, and a corresponding 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster as opposed to analog gauges. BMW iDrive remains one of our favorite user interfaces for its cleanliness and ease-of-use, especially with the rotary dial in the center console controlling it all and the crystal clear screen on which it’s displayed. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also come standard (now with no annual cost), and in our week with the car, wireless Android Auto connected without issue at all times.
On top of that, the M440i offers standard wireless charging, a Wi-Fi hotspot for a reasonable $500, a bangin' Harman Kardon surround-sound system for $875, and Gesture Control baked into the Executive package. If anything, Gesture Control is a kitschy feature that's fun to show your friends – look how neat it is to twirl your finger and turn up the volume. But for the most part, it's still more difficult to use than simply twisting the volume dial.
At the heart of the M440i is a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that absolutely hauls. The 382 horsepower and 364 pound-feet on tap propel the coupe to 60 miles per hour in just 4.3 seconds, quicker than anything else in the class, and as fast as some vehicles above it. The V8-powered Lexus RC F, for example, gets to 60 just as quickly. The xDrive all-wheel-drive system equipped here and the super sticky summer tires give the 4 Series impressive levels of grip off the line, too, while the eight-speed automatic rips off lightning-quick shifts. The M440i is a very fast vehicle, and it's fun as hell to punch between stoplights.
But less fun is flinging this Bimmer into a corner. The handling is sharp and the car’s willingness to change direction is aggressive, but while BMW deserves praise for making such striking distinctions in damper firmness between the drive modes, the company sacrifices too much comfort for too little dynamic ability in Sport and Sport Plus. For as rigid as it is, the suspension isn't as talkative as we'd like.
The steering is accurate and quick too, but it exhibits unusual rubber-band-like qualities at full-tilt. The wheel feels like it wants to spring back to center at all times, and there isn't as much sensation translated from the road to your fingertips as your author would like, though some of my fellow editors might fight me on that last point. And when you want to stop, the M Sport stoppers do it well – almost too well. The brakes in the M440i are extremely grabby and make for an unpleasant experience around town.
Automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and rear cross-traffic alert all come standard on the M440i. Opting for the $1,700 Driver's Assistance Pro package adds Extended Traffic Jam Assist and the Active Driving Assistant Pro – or in layman's terms, full-speed adaptive cruise control with lane-centering and steering assist.
Yet again, BMW proves it has one of the best active safety suites on the market. Simply tick the Active Driving Assistant button on the left side of the steering wheel and the M440i will keep itself centered in the lane and at a steady pace to the vehicle in front of it, even braking all the way down to zero in traffic jams. Like nearly all systems on the market today, this one is not fully hands-off, but it handles much of the legwork.
The BMW M440i xDrive achieves 22 miles per gallon city, 31 highway, and 25 combined. That’s a chunk above alternatives like the Q60 Red Sport, RC 350 AWD, and C43 4Matic Coupe – all with 22 combined – and just better than the Audi S5 (23 combined). Like most of the alternatives, though, the M440i’s six-cylinder engine only drinks premium fuel.
The BMW M440i as you see it here is a hearty $71,870. Although this trim starts at $58,500, a bit less than the Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe ($59,000) and Q60 Red Sport AWD ($60,200), this particular car has a lot of options, in typical BMW fashion.
The $3,700 Executive package is the most expensive option, followed by a $1,950 paint job, the $1,700 Driver’s Assistance package, the $1,450 leather, and a few others already mentioned. And this isn’t even fully loaded; there are some options missing that can bring the price up to $72,545 after destination and handling fees.
That said, a fully loaded 440i still isn’t the most expensive option in the class. While the Lexus RC and Infiniti Q50 don’t come anywhere close to cresting $70,000, fully spec’d Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe asks $73,865 and an Audi S5 with every option costs $73,545. So while the BMW doesn’t feel like a great value, neither are the Audi or Mercedes in this respect.
- Audi S5 Coupe: 9.4 / 10
- Infiniti Q60 Red Sport: Not Rated
- Lexus RC 350 F Sport: Not Rated
- Mercedes-Benz C43 Coupe: Not Rated
Gallery: 2021 BMW M440i: Review
2021 BMW M440i