Review: 2022 BMW M440i Coupe
BMW built its brand on the intangible merits of its small cars. For decades, the company’s secret sauce was an ability to imbue ordinary, sensible transportation with a dose of something special: a particular livability and dynamic refinement unequaled by the competition. A sort of quiet strength. It achieved this not with especially groundbreaking technologies or off-the-wall design; to understand why a 2002, an E30, or an E46 was so adored, you had to drive it.
The M440i Coupe is not so subtle. Between the huge, patterned grille; sharp fastback roofline; and pronounced rear fenders, this ranks among the most extroverted-looking BMWs in history. Whether you think the styling is good or bad is ultimately a matter of taste. It’s obvious, however, that the loud, new design direction is a deliberate choice.
Usually a break from visual tradition like this is meant to signal change. And for newcomers like the all-electric BMW i4 and i7, one could argue that a new type of propulsion jibes with the fresh styling direction. Understanding this correlation, let’s dive into what this shiny new generation of 4 Series brings to the table.
This G22-gen M440i Coupe is the two-door version of BMW’s M340i sedan, first launched for 2019. Despite the M prefix—which once stood exclusively for Motorsport and implied track dog capability—these are mid-grade performance models positioned between the entry-level 330i/430i and the all-out M3/M4. Think M-lite.
Standard hardware includes variable-ratio steering, a limited-slip differential, and larger brakes. Our rear-wheel-drive test car rang in at a hefty $67,320, loaded with more than 10 grand of options that included the Premium Package ($1600), Drivers Assistance Pro Package ($1700), and M Carbon Exterior Package ($2900). The Drivers Assistance kit can easily be skipped, as can the carbon body trim—though the latter admittedly pairs well with BMW’s San Remo Green Metallic paint. The Premium Package’s head-up display, heated seats, and heated steering wheel are, however, genuinely useful. Whether you’ll need the Cooling and High-Performance Tire Package ($2400) and its 19-inch wheels, adaptive dampers, and more robust braking/drivetrain temperature management boils down to whether you plan on tracking your M440i.
For the few wanting to go that route, 3900 pounds of weight is sure to raise eyebrows. Like the sedan, the coupe has grown larger for this generation—5 inches longer, 1 inch wider, and 0.4 inches taller. It’s a full 200 pounds heavier than the outgoing 440i, despite aluminum now being used for the front fenders, doors, hood, and shock housings.
That bloat is apparent when you see the car in the metal. We’re dealing with a fairly large car here, closer to a Mercedes E-Class coupe than a C-Class coupe and a half-inch shorter than the Ford Mustang. Even though it’s a 2+2, the back seat is noticeably more spacious than before. Aside from the skimpy headroom for especially tall passengers, it’s a serviceable spot even for long trips. The trunk opening isn’t especially tall, but it is wide and the cargo area is deep—capable of hauling luggage for at least 3 passengers over a weekend trip. The rear seats fold for additional storage.
The M440i is quicker than before, too. A turbocharged straight-six serves up 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque—62 horses and 39 lb-ft more than the outgoing 440i. 0-60 drops from 4.8 seconds to 4.6 seconds for the rear-drive model, but feels closer to 4. There’s not much character to the exhaust note, but the intake sounds nice from the driver’s seat, even if it’s computer-generated and played through the speakers.
New to the M440i is a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that can provide additional thrust during hard acceleration, while in other situations it can power the electronics to reduce load on the engine. It’s invisible most of the time, but we’d expected the integrated starter/generator to better smooth out vibrations from the start-stop system. While the last 440i had an available six-speed stick, an eight-speed automatic is the sole transmission available now; that leaves the M3 and M4 as the only two vehicles BMW currently sells in the U.S. with manual transmissions.
That component of driver engagement would go a long way toward making this car more endearing. Performance isn’t the issue; the M440i is rather easy to drive fast, as long as the mode is set to Sport or Sport+. The eight-speed has no problem putting down power, and the straight-six delivers deliciously smooth max torque from 1800 rpm to 5000 rpm. Brakes are stout, as well. Steering is precise, but there’s little in the way of feel aside from variations in weight between the various drive modes.
The chassis tuning, however, leaves us wanting for more feedback and involvement. You may recall that BMW’s ride and handling were once the gold standard which 20 years ago made the 3 Series arguably the best all-around car in the world. Not only is this new 4 Series coupe sized more like a GT car than a sport compact, it drives more like one. The front end, in particular, feels awfully heavy. Turn-in could be much sharper, though our tester’s winter tires may have played a role in that regard. The M440i maintains its composure when pressed hard through a set of curves, but at lower speeds the ride is busier than it should be, particularly over rough pavement. The V-6 Genesis G70 rides better and feels more nimble. Highway runs in the M440i, on the other hand, are spectacular. The ride is cushy in Comfort mode, and the electric power steering filters out any disconcerting thumps from expansion joints.
Interior appointments skew similarly toward cruising, rather than corner-carving. Seats are plenty supportive and comfortable for long-distance journeys, but they allow for too much side-to-side motion during hard cornering. We’ve remarked time and time again that BMW’s all-digital instrument cluster is confusing to absorb at a glance. Second verse, same as the first. The optional head-up display, however, projects clearly on the windshield. The iDrive infotainment is straightforward to use, especially with the twistable rotary controller next to the gear selector. BMW’s materials in the 4 Series cabin are quite good, with real metal, minimal plastic, and a commendable restraint when it comes to piano black. The camel-colored synthetic (Sensatec) interior is handsome and soft to the touch. Compared to the last 4 Series, designers made an obvious attempt to enhance the car’s luxury atmosphere; it mostly works, but the C-Class’ lavishness and A4’s cool minimalism nonetheless come across as more cohesive and self-assured.
BMW seems fuzzy on exactly what role the M440i Coupe should play. Luxury car? Sports car? Touring car? The only reason to buy a two-door coupe nowadays is for aesthetics. Models like the Mustang and Challenger have proven 2+2s can flourish, when properly conceived and tailored to their audience.
The 4 Series’ outgoing appearance sets up expectations for a big, clear personality that doesn’t come through in the driving experience. In fact, there’s nothing the similar-looking M440i Coupe does that the M440i Gran Coupe—which has four doors, five seats, and a more useful liftback configuration—doesn’t do as well or better. We’d wager the latter will quickly outsell the former.
Neither looks particularly subtle, but at least the Gran Coupe is sensible.
2022 BMW M440i Coupe
Price: $57,695 / $67,320 (base / as-tested)
Highs: Buttery-smooth powertrain with generous punch. Spacious given the two-door configuration. Lovely cruising demeanor.
Lows: Polarizing styling. Price quickly escalates with options. Steering feel could be livelier.
Summary: A two-door 3 Series with a straight-six was once a special thing indeed, but the M440i’s styling writes checks its drive can’t cash.