It’s hard to find a proper grand touring car on the new-car market for any sort of reasonable price. That’s sort of the nature of grand touring cars, thought, right? Their grandeur comes at a price. However, what if you could have a grand touring car experience but at a much lower price and with more practicality? That desire is what BMW hopes will drive customers to the new M440i Gran Coupe.
Without trying to sell you on the M440i like a cheap infomercial host, the BMW M440i Gran Coupe genuinely does offer a budget grand touring experience, for better or worse. If that’s something you’re interested in, keep reading.
What is an M440i Gran Coupe?
First, let’s break down what the BMW M440i Gran Coupe is because its name might cause some confusion, for those new to BMW’s nonsensical nomenclature. The M440i Gran Coupe is part of the 4 Series family, though despite the “coupe” in its name, it’s actually a four-door sedan with a hatchback trunk. Understand? No? Don’t worry, no one else does, either. Don’t let the confusing name throw you off, though, as the M440i Gran Coupe is a surprisingly good car, one that’s worth looking past some of its annoying faults and oddities.
Let’s Address the Elephant in the Room
There’s no getting around it — BMW’s massive kidney grille strikes again, altering the design of an otherwise good looking car. If you can look past the grille, though, the rest of the M440i Gran Coupe is actually rather handsome. In profile, it’s stunning, with its sweeping roofline, short overhangs, and even its flush door handles. It’s a really charming looking sedan that distinguishes itself from its 3 Series sibling by not only being “four-door coupe” but also by being a hatchback.
That hatchback trunk does two things; it makes the roofline look cooler, while adding a ton of extra luggage space. It’s rare that something better looking is also more practical but the M440i truly offers a “have your car and eat it” package. The grille might turn people off but those who can live with it will get both a more stylish and more practical sedan than 3 Series.
If you were expecting any interesting design elements in the M440i’s cabin, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. The M440i Gran Coupe’s interior is identical to the one found in the 4 Series Coupe, which itself is borrowed from the 3 Series and pretty much every other BMW product. It’s not a bad design, nor is it an unpleasant place to spend some time, but if you were expecting a bit more flare from the 4 Series GC, you’re going to be disappointed.
The main difference between the M440i Gran Coupe and M440i Coupe, obviously, is the addition of rear bench seat. Instead of the two, relatively small rear seats in the Coupe, the Gran Coupe offers a normal sedan-style bench seat, with a 40/20/40 folding split, optional heated rear seats, and its own climate controls. All of which make it far more practical than the two-door variant. The back seat itself isn’t bad, with decent knee room for medium-sized adults and enough shoulder room to fit two adults comfortably. However, the rear seat bottoms are a bit too flat and short, which could make long journeys a bit uncomfortable and headroom is pretty minimal, even for a short-ass like myself.
One oddity about the cabin of my M440i Gran Coupe tester was its manually-adjustable seats. I’ve never, in my all of my years writing reviews for this site, have seen a manually-adjustable driver’s seat on a BMW, regardless of price. I don’t have an issue with manually-adjustable seats, but it was strange so we had to ask BMW of North America for further details. According to a spokesperson, a series of BMW press cars, and customer cars, were built, by mistake, with manual seats. So this is why we also ended up testing the 4 Series Gran Coupe with the very same seats.
How Does it Drive, Though?
If you’ve driven a 4 Series Coupe, it drives a lot like that. In keeping with the 4 Series family, the BMW M440i Gran Coupe is incredibly smooth, quiet, stable at high speed, and surprisingly capable. And yet almost completely devoid of fun. However, I mean that as a compliment. For long-distance cruising, it’s absolutely brilliant. Sure, its steering feel is not very engaging and it lacks any sort of real driving enthusiasm but those aren’t things it’s supposed to have because it’s not a sports car, it’s a budget GT car and, again, I mean that as a compliment.
I haven’t driven every single car in the M440i Gran Coupe’s price point but I’d be willing to bet, just by looking at the market, that there are few cars at anywhere near its price point that can deliver the same level of grand-touring capability. It feels like an 8 Series Gran Coupe but without some of that car’s glamor and I honestly appreciate that about it.
Admittedly, driving it immediately after driving the BMW M240i didn’t do it many favors, as the littler 2er is miles more fun, but the M440i Gran Coupe had a charm of its own, in that it felt like it was designed to cross continents in speed, comfort, and luxury. Something the M240i wouldn’t be great at.
Except the M440i Gran Coupe has a trick up its sleeve that most GTs do not — four doors and a back seat. So not only is it a great GT car for the money but it can also double as a daily driver; doing the school run, picking up groceries, and shuttling you to work. It can excel at both the mundane minutia of everyday life, as well romantic weekend getaway driving. That’s some impressive duality.
Fast but Doesn’t Feel it
Grand touring cars are supposed to be fast and the BMW M440i Gran Coupe is most certainly fast. On paper, at least. Its B58 engine is as brilliant as ever, pumping out 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, all of which goes through the ubiquitous eight-speed automatic and xDrive all-wheel drive. BMW claims a 0-60 mph time of 4.4 seconds and that’s likely even a bit conservative. Though, you’d never know it.
Stomp the go-pedal in the M440i and you’re brain knows you’re going fast, as the numbers on the speedometer will enter license-losing territory quicker than you might like. However, you’re body can’t really tell. The M440i is so isolated from the experience of driving quickly; it’s so smooth and quiet inside; that 80 mph feels like 30 mph and getting from the latter to the former is a non-event.
What’s impressive about that, though, is just how good the B58 engine is at being effortlessly smooth. In the M240i I had prior, the B58 felt like an M engine, straining at the leash as if it wanted to launch me face-first into the horizon. Jumping into the M440i, though, felt as though the Hulk turned back into Bruce Banner; docile, intelligent, sophisticated. While enthusiasts might find that boring, I find that duality admirable.
Do I Buy This or the 3 Series?
Most 4 Series Gran Coupe customers stay 4 Series Gran Coupe customers. I’d wager a guess that the majority of customers for this new BMW M440i Gran Coupe are going to be existing F36 4 Series Gran Coupe owners. There probably won’t be a lot of cross-shopping between it and the 3 Series. That said, the BMW M440i Gran Coupe and the BMW M340i are both four-door BMW sedans with the exact same powertrain and similar performance for almost the same price, so comparing them is my occupational obligation.
Thankfully, I think, despite the similarities on paper, the two cars are so different that the decision between which to buy will be easy for most customers. The BMW M340i would be my choice, as it’s a bit more fun, lacks the irradiated Nosferatu face, and has more rear headroom. However, the M440i Gran Coupe looks better from most angles, is more comfortable than the M340i, has a more practical trunk, and is also much more of a GT car.
If you want a sport sedan, get the 3 Series version. It’s the better driver of the two cars. But if you want a long-legged cruiser that can also double as a kid-transporter, go for the BMW M440i Gran Coupe. So long as you can stomach the grille, of course.