REVIEW | BMW's M440i xDrive Coupé bridges the gap between its siblings and the M4

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• BMW's new 4 Series was launched locally in December 2020.

• The Coupé line-up is headlined by the M440i xDrive.

• The M440i xDrive is powered by a 275kW 3.0-litre petrol engine.

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It's no secret that BMW makes some of the best driver's cars globally, and the newest 4 Series is a testament to that. Launched locally in December 2020 - just in time for that special Christmas gift - the 4 Series impressed as a true driver's car. Still, its design, especially the new grille, has divided quite a bit of opinion.

Well, if we're honest, that grille should be of little concern because the 4 Series, and especially this M440i xDrive Coupé, finds its prowess in the way that it drives. It's probably clear as day by now that the M440i impressed the test team, but it's not without fault.

Yet we'd be daring enough to call it the 'poor man's M4', because it does live up to expectation without being too wild.

Cabin comfort

While the car's exterior design may divide opinion, one can't but admit that the M440i's interior is as good as they come. It is well laid out in typical BMW fashion, and every knob and dial is within easy reach. It's a space that works, and it entices the driver to engage with it.

Once inside, you get the idea that the cabin has been designed with sporty outlook on life. The steering wheel is brought over from the automaker's M parts bin and features the familiar 'M' logo at the bottom end. Behind the steering wheel are two shift paddles with which drivers can change gears manually with. The grippy steering wheel fits snugly in one's hands, and it is neither straining nor cumbersome to reach a finger behind each of the paddles.

DRIVEN: Potent dose of class - BMW launches new 4 Series Coupé in SA

Next to the gear lever, drivers will find the various mode selectors. Here you can choose between the different settings (Eco, Comfort, Sport) and adjust the car's driving traits to fit the mood you're in, while on the opposite end, you have a rotary knob with which to dial through the various menus and settings.

As is expected, the M440i xDrive is kitted with a host of technical features to improve the driving experience, including the (optional) Driving Assistant Professional that continuously monitors the car's on-road behaviour.

bmw 4 series
2021 BMW M440i xDrive Coupé M Performance

On the road

Our test unit, the M440i xDrive Coupé M Performance, is powered by a turbocharged six-cylinder 3.0-litre petrol engine. And while power is rated at 275kW and 500Nm, it is all kept in check by the automaker's all-wheel drive system called xDrive. From the off, one is immediately confronted by the car's impressive driving traits and its ability to rocket off the line without a stutter.

Though performance won't rival the M4, it's good enough to launch the car from 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds and onto an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h. Thanks to the turbocharging technology, the car's torque is available from 1900-5000rpm, ensuring proper shove and shunt in almost any gear.

The 4 Series, compared to its direct sibling, the 3 Series, sits 21mm lower to the ground, and the rear-axle track is also 23mm wider. The result is a car that feels more planted and assured through any spirited driving exercise. However, one does miss BMW's rear-wheel only setup of years gone by, but the car does enough to keep you entertained and smiling.

bmw 4 series
2021 BMW M440i xDrive Coupé M Performance

In summary

Priced at R1.2 million, the M440i xDrive Coupé has a lot going for it. It undercuts the M4 Coupé by around R700 000, yet it performs admirably from a performance point of view. Holistically speaking, it will appease many a driver looking for something special that can double as a weekend toy and a weekday commuter, all the while impressing with each passing kilometre.

The M440i xDrive Coupé is the finest iteration of the 4 Series yet - bar the M4 - and should do the nomenclature justice for a long time to come.

bmw 4 series
2021 BMW M440i xDrive Coupé M Performance
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