First Drive: Does the M440i Gran Coupe make sense over BMW’s own 3 Series?

What is it?

BMW M440i Gran Coupe
(BMW)

The BMW line-up is wide-ranging, with every possible niche you can consider covered. Naturally, then, there’s some overlap. For example, you have the 3 Series, which is available as a four-door saloon and estate, and the 4 Series, which is a similar size but comes as a two-door coupe and convertible.

However, the 4 Series is also offered as a Gran Coupe, which is a four-door version. It’s very similar to the 3 Series, then, but aims to offer a bit more style in exchange for a little less practicality for a small price premium.

It doesn’t stop people buying them, though. For the previous generation, the Gran Coupe accounted for 50 per cent of 4 Series sales. Now, a new one is here, and that’s what we’ve been driving today.

What’s new?

BMW M440i Gran Coupe
(BMW)

The new Gran Coupe follows the same styling cues of the latest 4 Series, which means the front end has that controversial grille design. An M variant (which is what we’ve been driving at the car’s launch in Munich) is being offered from launch.

The new model is slightly longer, wider and taller than its predecessor and gets the latest suite of petrol and diesel engines from BMW. A new material mix helps make the car lighter, while the weight distribution is almost 50/50 front/rear.

Finally, an active air flap system in the grille and an almost completely sealed underbody optimise aerodynamics so it glides through the air more efficiently than before.

What’s under the bonnet?

BMW M440i Gran Coupe
(BMW)

The range-topping M440i uses a six-cylinder petrol engine making 369bhp, returning up to 35.3mpg with CO2 emissions of up to 194g/km. This (as well as the diesel) comes with mild hybrid technology that provides a little boost of electric power and improves economy.

Other petrol options include the 242bhp 430i and the 181bhp 420i, while the 420d diesel is also available in both rear- and all-wheel-drive layouts. This model makes 187bhp and returns up to 58.9mpg with CO2 emissions of up to 190g/km, depending on the specification.

What’s it like to drive?

BMW M440i Gran Coupe
(BMW)

The M440i is not a full fat M car like the M4. Instead, it’s designed to bridge the gap between those models and the rest of the range, bringing sporty looks and driving characteristics while still being comfortable on the road.

The M440i nails this brief. In sport mode, the engine sounds gruff and has enough grunt to put a smile on your face, while the steering is light but direct enough to make corners something to look forward to.

Switch it to comfort and it settles down, becoming a comfortable commuter car or urban runaround. The enjoyable driving dynamics translate to more sedate motoring too, with precise inputs giving a solid impression of build quality.

How does it look?

BMW M440i Gran Coupe
(BMW)

By now, everyone’s had their say on the front grille design. Over time it has grown on many people, and having run a 4 Series coupe for six months we’ve actually learnt to love it. It’s a bold, stand-out design, and looks especially good combined with the fantastic Aventurine Red paint.

Things are less cohesive at the rear, which looks very uninspiring. There are fewer sharp lines, an issue also found on the coupe model, but in the Gran Coupe it also looks more plump and less elegant than a 3 Series.

A small note – the flush door handles look great, but they’re very awkward to use. It’s difficult to get a good grip on them and a couple of times our fingers slipped out when trying to grip them.

What’s it like inside?

BMW M440i Gran Coupe
(BMW)

The interior has largely been carried over from the coupe, which means you get that excellent driving position that sits you low in the car but with great visibility and plenty of adjustment.

The materials all feel like good quality with leather upholstery as standard, while the infotainment system is clear and easy to use. Boot capacity is 470 litres, which is only about 10 litres down on a 3 Series saloon, too.

Things start to go downhill in the rear, though. For a start, the back doors are very narrow, making it tricky to get inside, while legroom isn’t great for those sitting behind a relatively tall driver. Headroom is disappointing, too, and your head is positioned by the C pillar, restricting your view out of the window.

If you regularly take rear passengers, they would have a much happier time in a 3 Series…

What’s the spec like?

BMW M440i Gran Coupe
(BMW)

Prices start at £41,650 for the 420i M Sport model. Standard equipment includes LED headlights and tail lights, sport seats, leather steering wheel, automatic air conditioning, adaptive cruise control and reversing camera.

The M440i we’ve been testing starts at £55,695 and gets the uprated engine and sporty body kit, as well as M Sport brakes, gloss black exterior trim, M adaptive suspension and parking assistant. There’s also various other technical upgrades to make the M440i more agile on the road.

Verdict

BMW M440i Gran Coupe
(BMW)

The 4 Series Gran Coupe is a tricky car to deliver a definitive verdict on. It’s so similar in size and shape to the 3 Series that if you’re looking for a smart family car for daily driving duties, the 3 is the better option, and less expensive, too.

Where the 4 Series differentiates itself slightly is the front end styling and slightly sportier focus. If practicality is less important then the 4 will be a fun companion on the commute with a lovely cabin to pass the miles.

Unless you regularly take tall people in the rear seats or need the cargo capacity of an estate, the 4 Series Gran Coupe is unlikely to disappoint.


  • Model as tested: BMW M440i Gran Coupe

  • Price: £55,695

  • Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol mild hybrid

  • Power: 369bhp

  • Torque: 500Nm

  • Max speed: 155mph

  • 0-60mph: 4.5 seconds

  • MPG: 33.2-35.3

  • Emissions: 181-194g/km CO2