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First drive: 2017MY BMW 440i M Sport. Image by BMW.

First drive: 2017MY BMW 440i M Sport
Mild updates for the BMW 4 Series range, but the 440i remains truly invigorating to drive.


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2017MY BMW 440i M Sport

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You will have to be a colossal BMW anorak to be able to spot the changes wrought to the 4 Series on the surface, and they really are limited to minor styling and paint option tweaks. Under the skin, though, the Munich engineers have been busy and the results are pretty tasty...

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: BMW 440i Coupe M Sport
Price: 42,985; range starts at 32,525
Engine: 3.0-litre inline-six turbocharged petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door, four-seat coupe
CO2 emissions: 172g/km (Band 171-190, 800 1st year + 310 supplement)
Combined economy: 38.1mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 5.2 seconds
Power: 326hp at 5,500pm
Torque: 450Nm at 1,380- to 5,000rpm
Boot space: 475 litres

What's this?

This is the new BMW 4 Series Coupe. No, honestly. I know, you probably don't believe me, but come with me, peer closer. Still can't see it? Here, try this magnifying glass. Got it now? That's right, the previously circular LED highlights in the headlamps are now octagonal. Bonus points if you spotted the new alloy wheel options, the new chrome trim around the front air intakes on Luxury models, or the new paint options that include Sunset Orange and the Snapper Rocks Blue of our 440i Coupe test car.

Inside, the changes are even more minimal. You can now have the digital instrument pack from the G30 5 Series, which looks great when you're using it to mimic old-fashioned analogue dials (it's like having hi-definition instruments), but less so in the Sport mode layout, which looks a bit too much like the old Star Trek red alert screen. There are other tiny, tiny changes too, such as new aluminium and/or wood trim, some extra electro-plating on the buttons to make them look a touch more upmarket (BMW says this makes the cabin look 'more valuable', but we are truly struggling to see the difference) and the updated iDrive layout that uses tiles instead of a text menu and looks and works with the sort of slickness we associate with Alexander Armstrong.

Space in the back remains decent, at least enough to make the 4 Series Coupe a viable daily driver, as does its 475-litre boot, but that observation doesn't hold true for the Convertible, whose back seats are too upright for comfort and whose boot shrinks to a tiny 220 litres when you fold down the bulky, heavy metal roof.

How does it drive?

Choose the 440i, with its traditional 3.0-litre turbo straight-six engine and you're onto a winner. Well, you're also onto a world of VED pain as the new rates mean you'll have to pay more than 1,000 to tax it for year one, and then 440 a year thereafter, but it's such a cracking engine that it might just be worth it. An output of 326hp doesn't sound like a huge amount, but the 440i is light enough to make the most of it, and performance is pretty muscular, sufficiently so that you actually start to question the need for a much more expensive M4. OK, so the M4 is around half-a-second quicker to 62mph, but is that really worth circa 15,000 of your cash? The defence for the M4 becomes even harder when you hear the 440i's growl. Yes, some of it is electronically assisted, but even taking that into account, this is a seriously sonorous engine, rising to a peak of almost Porsche-like mechanical thrash and howl as you approach the redline. Our only regret was that we didn't get to try it with a manual gearbox this time around.

While the styling department was apparently on a long lunchbreak for this 4 Series update, the engineering boys were working overtime, and Saturdays. The suspension layout isn't new, but the springs, dampers (adaptive on our test car) and steering have all been updated, and actually made a little stiffer, which BMW says makes the most of the 4 Series' 40mm lower centre of gravity (compared to the 3 Series Saloon) and which even helps to reduce braking distances.

And it all works rather fabulously. To be picky, we'd like a little more feedback at the rim of the three-spoke M Sport steering wheel, but the weighting, speed and accuracy are exactly where you want them to be, and we must point out that unseasonably low temperatures in Bavaria meant that we were conducting our test on winter tyres. Streaming rain and ice-rink roads put a dent in some of our exuberance too, but the 440i never felt less than agile, nor anything but rock-solid stable. Again, the tyres surely have to take some credit, but the way this powerful, rear-drive coupe shrugged off such awful weather conditions was truly impressive.

The 430i Convertible we tried in the same conditions was a little less successful. The same delicious steering, yes, and a surprisingly comfortable ride quality, but the 252hp 2.0-litre turbocharged four can't help but be a disappointment after the big six 440i, and it's a bit harsh at the top end of the rev range. The Convertible's extra weight (100kg of it) seriously blunts performance too, and you can really feel the car strain when committing to a snap overtake. And we couldn't even get the roof down. Bloody rain...


BMW's 4 Series Coupe is facing some serious competition right now. The new Audi A5 may not have the steering and chassis balance, but it has a terrific cabin and great looks. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe has those, plus a seriously talented chassis, while the Lexus RC may not have the engines, but it has striking styling and incredible quality. The 4 Series Convertible struggles against the equivalent Audi and Mercedes options. Nonetheless, the 440i Coupe, in particular, rises above that though by being simply fantastic to drive. It's an exceptional engine, wrapped in subtly muscular styling and with enough practicality to justify the whole thing to yourself.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain

Neil Briscoe - 28 Apr 2017    - BMW road tests
- BMW news
- 4 Series images

2017 BMW 440i Coupe. Image by BMW.2017 BMW 440i Coupe. Image by BMW.2017 BMW 440i Coupe. Image by BMW.2017 BMW 440i Coupe. Image by BMW.2017 BMW 440i Coupe. Image by BMW.

2017 BMW 440i Coupe. Image by BMW.2017 BMW 440i Coupe. Image by BMW.2017 BMW 440i Coupe. Image by BMW.2017 BMW 440i Coupe. Image by BMW.2017 BMW 440i Coupe. Image by BMW.


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