Test Drive Notes Library
- Satisfying to drive. If you take pleasure in driving a well engineered, sporty car, and your bank balance is comfortably in the green, you’ll enjoy the BMW M440i; the coupe version of the brand’s famous 3-Series sports sedan. One of the nice things about the M440i is that, provided you’re never the one who has to fold yourself into the back seat, it’s a great car for all different types of terrain, whether around town, on twisty roads, or cruising on the highway. It’s a flexible sports car.
- Drivetrain. We’ve praised this drivetrain before, and nothing changed our minds during our week with the M440i. The 3-liter, twin turbo, inline six cylinder engine now produces just over 380 hp, and it’s paired with one of the best automatic transmissions we’ve driven, an eight-speed programed by BMW. It can be a smooth, luxurious cruiser when on the highway, or an obnoxious brat when you suddenly remember, “Wait a minute, I drive a BMW!" Power is abundant, and the transmission is always in the right gear. We saw nearly 25 mpg overall, which is damn good for an all-wheel-drive, nearly 400-hp sports/luxury car.
- Handling. Despite having a forgiving ride around town, when pushed, the M440i shows it’s the real deal. It stays flat on turns, and has so much grip that major league pitchers are trying to figure out how to smear one on their fingers. There are electronic settings for comfort, sport, and “I want to be an idiot.” Comfort, while not exactly plush, is in no way punishing either. They’ve managed to get the handling they want, while still making the ride soft enough that you can live like a soft-ass American 90% of the time. Praise be.
- Quality interior. Everything inside the M440i looks and feels well made. The seats are comfortable up front, the controls have a solid feel, the iDrive infotainment screen can be customized to your preferences, and controlled by touch screen, the round controller between the seats, or by voice if you want to take your chances. Maybe it does better in the original German. There’s a good head up display, and a mildly customizable digital instrument panel. Materials feel good to the touch.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Two doors. Why not get the 3-Series, and let your mother-in-law get in the back seat without pointing her butt in the general direction of the trunk and doing a trust fall? I guess the answer is styling. If you love the styling of the 4-Series enough to choose it over the more practical 3-Series, BMW says you’ll also get slightly sportier handling. It’s hard to know without driving the 340i and 440i back to back, but let’s accept that. You get only two doors, you get a bigger visual mass of metal over the rear wheel area, and you get a front grill big enough to barbecue for 16. So, whether you choose the two or four door is mostly a matter of style. The 4-Series Gran Coupe (4-Series styling with four doors) may be a compromise. We’d opt for one of the four door models.
- Price. You pay a premium for the coupe, too. Honestly, even though our test car rang the bell at over $70K all optioned up ($58,500 base price), it’s an impressively engineered and versatile sports coupe. Plus, you’re going to lease it anyway and pretend it’s a business expense. The real price issue is with more expensive BMW’s 8-Series coupe, which doesn’t feel like it's worth the $30K upgrade from the M440i.
- Instruments. For decades, BMW’s dashboard instruments were perfect — precise, clear, simple. For some reason, when they switched to digital instrumentation, they didn’t make those classic instruments a “digital option,” which would have been simple. Instead, they give us a cheap-looking video-game style instrument cluster with the tach running backwards up one side and the speedo running up the opposite side. It’s just not very pleasing to the eye, in a cockpit where pretty much everything else is.
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