BMW M440i xDrive Gran Coupe Review: It's A Real Sweet Spot

Text by James Wong; Photos by James Wong and Horizon Drivers' Club
11 Jan 2022
 

... the M440i GC is no mere badging exercise, even though it’s the first of its kind, taking the mantle from its predecessor, the F36 440i GC.

With BMW ///M badges being placed everywhere now, whether a car is an ///M car or not, you’d be forgiven for approaching the M440i xDrive Gran Coupé (henceforth M440i GC) with some scepticism. 

Coming from an era where the hottest BMWs below ///M cars had no special branding (i.e. E9x 335i), I can relate. But make no mistake, the M440i GC is no mere badging exercise, even though it’s the first of its kind, taking the mantle from its predecessor, the F36 440i GC. 

Basically the sexier, yet arguably more practical variant of the G20 M340i, the M440i GC presents a very interesting proposition. If you needed more flexibility for carrying and loading, the GC body shape makes a lot more sense. The liftback is amazingly practical especially for bulky items. 

Being set 53 mm higher than its predecessor means there is also less compromise with regards to headroom, even with its coupé-like rake. It’s perhaps slightly less commodious than the venerable 3er, but really, we are splitting hairs here. If you already want to plonk serious cash for the M340i sedan, the M440i GC seems to be the better option, unless you want much more space, then the M340i Touring would fit the bill. 

They all have the B58, which is the latest generation of turbocharged straight sixes from BMW since they brought the N54 to the market in the E9x generation, a proper watershed moment. Back then, the N54 reshaped what it meant to be a fast BMW; it was no longer progressive engineering of naturally aspirated engines that brought more power. Like it or not, it changed the world of BMW forever. 

But unlike the unreliability of the N54 despite how great it was, the B58 brings with it incredible output (374 hp and 500 Nm) and much more robust internals after several generations of experience with turbos. To be sure, it’s not a S58 ///M engine, but it is pretty sensational in its own right and I daresay, even sounds better than the S58. 

Paired with a mild hybrid 48V starter-generator, there are noticeable gains in fuel efficiency, especially when coasting, coming to a stop or idling. It is marginal in experience, but it all adds up to make the car feel more usable day-to-day despite its slightly anti-social 3-litre engine (just ask Musk and his legion of fans).

What helps too is that the eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission is a near flawless partner, being fast and intuitive and rarely feeling out of step. It feels a little out of place in the M3 but fulfills the brief perfectly for the M440i GC. 

Likewise, the Adaptive M Suspension which comes standard is generally in keeping with the character of the car, being a careful blend of comfort and sport. The interior is also hard to fault, with impressive quality, design and materials. iDrive 7.0 is perhaps in its greatest iteration with its mix of modernity and familiarity, even trumping 8.0 which feels a little too experimental at its current state.

When you want to get going, the M440i GC really shines with its inherent balance (near 50:50) and bespoke body struts at the front end and in the rear axle. However, xDrive alters the drive tremendously especially when you have always expected sporty BMWs to be rear-wheel drive. There is no longer that tail wiggle or dab of oversteer on heavy throttle inputs; there is just so much grip now that it is predisposed for stability. I’d go without xDrive personally, but I can see it working for most who just want a car quick point-to-point. 

 

The M440i GC is really likeable. With its surprising practicality, great looks and effortless luxury, it feels like a very sorted fast BMW. Honestly, I think it’s a more pleasant car to live with every day than the M3/4 on our little island. 



In Summary

We Like

More practical than the sedan, better looking and drives brilliantly. 

We Don't

That front grille is polarising. It doesn't come cheap either. 

Verdict

The pick of the range for a fast daily that's exciting with little compromises. 

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