Car review: BMW M Series M440i Gran Coupe has undeniable performance capabilities
This is the new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, a four-door, lift back model within the 4 Series line-up.
I recently drove this particular M440i variant in Munich, and found it to be a two-fold grand tourer that's as capable through twisty mountain roads as much as it is speeding down the Autobahn at 200km/h.
How does it fare in Singapore, though?
Visually, I think the 4 Series Gran Coupe is a handsome car. Even the supersized grille here kind of works, primarily because there's plenty of visual girth behind it. The clean surfaces (helped by the flush door handles) create a rather elegant silhouette, even with the car's upsized dimensions.
This being an M Performance model, you also get an added splash of sporty detailing, including the M Sport rims, brake callipers, mirrors and requisite M badging.
As this car is longer, wider and taller than its predecessor, the interior does feel more spacious. There's plenty of space for passengers, and the 470-litre boot is easily accessed via the lift back boot.
Equipment-wise, the 4GC packs exactly what you'd expect from the modern BMW. You get the Live Cockpit Plus, Operating System 7, and the same centre console cluster shared across the rest of the BMW range. It's an expectedly premium, high-tech and luxurious space to be in.
M badging on the steering wheel and seats also remind you of this car's performance credentials.
Powering this M440i variant is a turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six engine that produces a healthy 369bhp and 500Nm of torque. With power fully deployed, the car sprints from 0-100km/h in 4.7 seconds.
The engine note is sweet (though a little muted), and the crackling when you lift off the throttle are actually a nice surprise considering how new emissions regulations have seem to strangle many a new engine soundtrack in performance cars these days.
Handling is expectedly stellar. This is a BMW after all. Steering accuracy is sharp, the car is nimble in spite of its size, and there's a fluidity to the way it can negotiate corners that highlights the car's well-sorted chassis.
So yes, as a M Performance model, this M440i ticks all the right boxes.
And when you just want to get from place to place, the 4GC also delivers on the practicality front. Overall comfort is high, refinement is excellent, and there's just an ease to the way the car drives.
This M440i also packs a mild-hybrid system, so engine start/stop is perfectly seamless. In many ways, as far as day-to-day comfort is concerned, this reminds you of this car's performance credentials.
There is, however, a big question looming over this particular M440i model. Does this car make sense in Singapore?
If I'm being honest, I'm not sure it does. I liked this car in Munich, and I still very much like it here in Singapore. However, at $409,888 (as of Dec 7, 2021), the M440i is a pricey proposition that's caught in a tricky bind.
The 420i is more than a 100 grand cheaper, and you still get more or less the same looks, practicality, functionality and driveability, albeit without the same outright pace.
In fact, the 420i Gran Coupe is currently priced cheaper than a 320i, and it's slightly bigger and arguably more practical. That's certainly compelling.
The M440i made sense in Munich, where you have unrestricted highways and mountain roads where you can fully deploy the car's performance. There, the M440i's grand touring capabilities really come to the fore.
In Singapore, I wonder if you're paying for a lot of performance that you can't actually use.
Even Tuas to Changi Airport is at best mini touring, not grand touring. It also edges into BMW M3 territory price-wise, and that's a full blown sports car.
I do like the new 4 Series Gran Coupe. I just happen to think that as good as this M440i may be, the 420i variant is probably the one to have. In Singapore anyway.
This article was first published in sgCarMart.