2021 BMW M440i xDrive Noses Away From Its Roots

Traditionalists will say the new 4-series maintains only a passing resemblance to a BMW, like an unlicensed rendering in a video game. They’ll also note the attention-snaring vertically oriented grille. But what’s most disappointing is that it’s not as good to drive as we’d expect a sporty BMW coupe to be.

The 4’s redesign catches it up to the current G20-generation 3-series. Although the two cars share a 112.2-inch wheelbase, the coupe is an inch or two longer, wider, and lower and has a wider rear track. That growth brings a larger rear seat that’s tolerable for average-size adults. In profile, the 4 looks almost like a scaled-down 8-series, yet unlike the 8, it doesn’t look quite so much like a Ford Mustang.

Andi HedrickCar and Driver

The update adds to the 4’s curb weight. It’s now basically a two-ton car in the top M440i xDrive trim, with our test car placing a substantial 53.8 percent of that mass on its front wheels. Even with 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires (18s with all-seasons are standard), it managed only 0.91 g of skidpad grip, and understeer dominates. We’ve recorded more stick from the newest 3-series and even some family sedans, although our car did stop from 70 mph in a short 149 feet.

The M440i’s variable-ratio steering is short on tactility and has an almost rubbery buildup of force as you turn off-center. The rack’s rather quick ratio only amplifies its artificial feel. Factor in the compliant ride from the adaptive dampers and the 4 has veered into grand-touring territory. It’ll still happily hustle down a challenging road, but the experience isn’t as satisfying as it used to be.

Andi HedrickCar and Driver

The M440i xDrive is still quick—3.8 seconds to 60 mph—thanks to the 382 horsepower from BMW’s awesome turbo 3.0-liter inline-six. A new 48-volt motor-generator adds some pounds yet contributes up to 11 horses to assist the engine before the turbo wakes up. Lag is nicely mitigated as proven by the fleet 4.6-second time in our launch-free five-to-60-mph test. Sadly, a manual is no longer offered, but ZF’s ubiquitous eight-speed automatic swaps gears as sweetly as ever.

This being our first turn with the new 4, we’re hoping other versions offer a closer connection. Our hope is the four-cylinder 430i model, which comes standard with non-variable steering and passive dampers, will carry the BMW dynamics torch of yore. It is currently the only 4-series available with rear-wheel drive, though a rear-drive six-cylinder model will be added later.

The fiery performance of the latest M3 and M4, both of which adopt similar vertical grilles, should help us acclimate to the controversial design. But the softer character of the M440i xDrive makes it tough to overlook the 4’s new face.



2021 BMW M440i xDrive


front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe


$69,770 (base price: $59,495)


turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve inline-6, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection

183 in3, 2998 cm3

382 hp @ 6500 rpm

364 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm


8-speed automatic


Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink

Brakes (F/R): 13.7-in vented disc/13.6-in vented disc

Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, F: 225/40R-19 93Y ★ R: 255/35R-19 96Y ★


Wheelbase: 112.2 in

Length: 188.0 in

Width: 72.9 in

Height: 54.8 in

Passenger volume: 87 ft3

Trunk volume: 12 ft3

Curb weight: 3986 lb


60 mph: 3.8 sec

100 mph: 9.6 sec

130 mph: 17.1 sec

150 mph: 25.7 sec

Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 4.6 sec

Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.4 sec

Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.1 sec

1/4 mile: 12.3 sec @ 112 mph

Top speed (governor limited): 157 mph

Braking, 70–0 mph: 149 ft

Braking, 100–0 mph: 299 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.91 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec. 


Combined/city/highway: 25/22/31 mpg


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