It’s easy to get seduced by BMW ” M ” cars. Whether it be the lively M2, the colossal M5, or the legendary M3, it doesn’t matter which shape they come in, there has always been something very enticing about Bavarian beasts flexing that celebrated badge. For many of us, the extra costs associated with ” proper ” M cars means that they usually remain in the wishlist section of our shopping carts, rather than occupying their desired position in our garages. But fear not readers, BMW has been sneakily unleashing some very impressive ‘ M ‘ badge cars that fly under the radar, and are all the better for it. Their latest release, the M440i xDrive Gran Coupe, not only happens to be a very pragmatic alternative to the M4 but as we found out driving the muscular 4 series, is also one of the best all-rounders we’ve tested in a very long time.
M340i vs M440i
Looking at the exterior of the M440i Gran Coupe and you’d be forgiven for asking, ” Why not just buy an M340i xDrive? “. Well, the M440i GC holds a certain appeal because of its slightly wider stance and more aggressive lines, resulting in a more sport-slanted design language. It’s heavier, sure (70kg heavier than a 3 series), but at 4.8m in length and 1.85m wide, it spreads its bulk well across a larger than expected body.
How’s the Design?
There’s no going past the double kidney grille, you either like it or you don’t. We think it suits the sculpted bonnet and aggressive laser headlights, but the styling might rattle some BMW purists. In contrast, the side profile is surprisingly elegant, with flush-mounted door handles and elongated body lines, the whole car looks to sit low and staunch.
Inside the cabin, materials feel very plush and the build quality is exquisite. Quality leather dominates the cockpit and is bordered by galvanised metal accents, digital displays are breathtakingly clear, and there are functional controls as far as the eye can see. The Gran Coupe features a fifth seat in the back, but realistically, it’s still just a four-seater for long journeys.
Pop open that motorised boot/tail-gait/hatch and you reveal a surprisingly ample 470-litre slab of spaciousness that can be extended by a further 38 litres if you’re willing to lift up the floor. There are also large side storage compartments with elastic netting behind the wheel arches which became surprisingly handy for securing groceries and beach gear.
What’s Under the Hood?
An absolutely mouth-watering, turbo-charged, 6 cylinder slab of goodness. While it’s no M4, with 285 kilowatts and 500-newton metres of torque being sent to a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system, the M440i Gran Coupe is casually colossal.
0-100km/h? 4.7 seconds.
For a road car, you couldn’t really ask for much more pragmatic performance than what this package delivers. It’s smooth when it has to be, quiet when you need it to, and while synthetically aided acoustics creep in during sport mode, the engine shines at every task thrown at it.
How Does it Drive?
Due to the adjustable settings, the M440i GC is genuinely a different character in each guise. In comfort, we found the steering to be a little numb and strangely effortless, but the overall ride was very relaxing and supple. When in Sport mode, the steering sharpened up nicely and felt impressively astute and direct (especially for an all-wheel-drive).
Of course, the adaptive M suspension is still reliably outstanding and provides a pliant ride in most settings. It’s comfortable enough for long trips and doesn’t feel too spiky when things start firming up down below.
The chassis doesn’t feel track-ready like an M4, for example, but that’s a good thing. Everything is well balanced, thoughtfully tuned and should tick most boxes when it comes to real-world driving.
It doesn’t matter which way you look at it, the BMW M440i xDrive Gran Coupe is a sensational offering. It’s good looking, progressive, well built, reliable, athletic, powerful, grippy and tunable. It can be understated when it needs to and can turn up the wick with aplomb when required.
The chassis is pragmatically adaptable for most conditions and the 3.0-litre six-cylinder under the bonnet is a sledgehammer in a suit. It blends style, usability and performance in a way that’s practical while still managing to feel exhilarating.
Not only would you be hard-pressed to find a better all-around package in the BMW range, but you would also struggle to find a car from any other manufacturer that came close. While it’s still not a cheap car by any means, for the equipment you get, it represents a relative bargain. The BMW M440i xDrive Gran Coupe is that good.
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