Road test: there's plenty to like about BMW's M440i Gran Coupe

The newcomer has just landed in UAE showrooms

Premium German carmakers have been obsessed in recent years with plugging every conceivable micro-niche in the market. There’s now seemingly a Teutonic prestige vehicle that caters to every imaginable whim, and the latest example is BMW’s all-new 4 Series Gran Coupe.

BMW first rolled out the 4 Series Gran Coupe in 2014, and it was essentially the result of morphing the 4 Series Coupe and 3 Series sedan. The sales pitch was as follows: “So, you’d like the svelte looks of a coupe, along with the four-door practicality of a sedan? Step right this way, sir.”

The recipe worked a treat – it’s been outselling the two-door 4 Series by two to one in Europe – which is why we now have the second-gen 4 Series Gran Coupe. The newcomer has just landed in UAE showrooms, but we had the opportunity to sample the car in October at its international launch in Munich.

The latest Gran Coupe shares its core architecture with the current 3 Series, but it stands clearly apart via a distinctly more rakish profile and a face that’s fronted by the same XXL twin-nostril grille as the latest 4 Series Coupe.

The newbie is 143 millimetres longer, 27mm wider and 53mm taller than its predecessor, and the dimensional stretch has liberated more cabin space. In addition, the front and rear tracks have been widened (by 50mm and 29mm respectively), which bring dynamic gains as well as endowing the car with a more hunkered-down stance.

Although the Gran Coupe’s roofline is far more tapered than that of the 3 Series, you still get five seats (the centre-rear pew is a bit cramped), a large tailgate and a load compartment that’s extendable from 470 to 1290 litres by folding down the rear seats.

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The straight-six engine emits a pleasing howl when you give it the beans, yet recedes into the background when you’re in cruise mode

As per its two-door 4 Series sibling, the Gran Coupe is offered with a choice of four- and six-cylinder engines. The 420i is propelled by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo motor that ekes out 184 horsepower and 300Nm.

Next in the hierarchy is the 430i, which gets an uprated version of the same engine, pushing out 245hp and 400Nm. The range-topper is the M440i xDrive, which gets a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo unit that thumps out 374hp and 500Nm. All models are equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Pricing in the UAE starts at Dh259,000 ($70,524) for the 420i Gran Coupe, rising to Dh350,000 for the M440i xDrive.

We sampled the flagship M440i xDrive at the launch, and this variant serves up acceleration befitting a sports sedan, dispatching the 0-100 kilometres per hour sprint in 4.7 seconds and running up to its electronically governed top speed of 250kph with effortless ease.

The straight-six engine emits a pleasing howl when you give it the beans, yet recedes into the background when you’re in cruise mode. The eight-speed auto is slick and intuitive, so there’s little to fault in the drivetrain.

As with most BMWs with a sporting bent, the M440i’s steering wheel rim is thicker than ideal, but get past that and you’ll find that the chassis beneath you is taut and well sorted. The 4 Series has slightly different suspension geometry to the 3 Series sedan and its overall setup is stiffer – especially in the M440i. The BeeEm’s most direct rivals are the Mercedes-AMG C43 and Audi S5 Sportback, but the M440i is arguably the most driver-focused of the trio as it’s marginally crisper in its responses. Ride quality is a bit harsh over rough surfaces, but that wouldn’t be such an issue on the UAE’s predominantly smooth roads.

The cockpit layout is clean and uncluttered, with a virtual instrument cluster being the main focal point. The rev counter needle sweeps anti-clockwise, which can be irritating, but that’s my only beef with what is otherwise a clear and efficient driver interface.

All in all, there’s plenty to like about the M440i Gran Coupe. You could think of it as a junior M4 – with the added practicality of four doors and five seats.

The specs - M440i Gran Coupe

Engine: 3.0-litre 6-cylinder turbo

Power: 374hp at 5,500-6,500rpm

Torque: 500Nm from 1,900-5,000rpm

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Speed: 0-100kph in 4.7sec

Top speed 250kph

On sale: Now

Price: From Dh350,000

Updated: November 10th 2021, 10:42 AM