This week, we’re in the all-new 2-door format 4-Series BMW, namely the 2021 M440i convertible. With less weight than the 8-Series convertible we tested last year, and a similar turbocharged inline-6 that puts out near 400-horsepower, this new 4-Series in hardtop or convertible trim will go from zero to 60-MPH in less than five seconds and then turn into a very comfortable highway cruiser when you press the “comfort” ride selector situated on the console. Yet, it’s not the comfortable ride that hides what’s in the DNA of this new 4-Series BMW.
Not by a long shot.
Specifically, our M440i had the powerful turbocharged inline-6 beckoning our call, and in combination with a special MSport suspension, a push of a button to “Sport” mode and its fine shifting and tweaked 8-speed paddle shift automatic, zero to 60 arrives in less than five seconds. Notable is that the beauty of this new generation drew many positive comments and praises from all age groups during our week long test and hands down, the 4-Series is the most popular car from the eyes of onlookers that I’ve tested this year. (Last year, it was the new mid-engine Corvette).
Not surprisingly, and of all the outstanding upgraded features this new 4-Series BMW now offers, none resulted in more conversation and questions about its new, “full size,” front grille. Available only on the 4-Series and two other high performance M3 and M4 models, the grille is totally different and larger as BMW deviates away from its famous “smaller kidney” design that is a BMW mainstay since the car came to mass popularity here in the states decades ago. (And still is).
Personally, I’m not sure this grille motif will survive or not, but in no way does it really matter other than its controversial design. Like the grille or not, to me it’s more so the car itself that is an outstanding example of a BMW all-new effort. Undoubtedly, this new 4-Series allows owning a supercar for way less than the 8-Series BMW convertible we drove last year that came in at a price of $118K. .
As for what’s new, BMW makes some major changes. There are brand new LED headlights, new brake ducts near the grille to cool the large, red caliper MSport vented discs, the grille is functional with the vertical air flaps open when the engine warms up, new 19-inch specific wheels and an all-new rear outline with innovative and large two-tone LED taillights that flow from fender to inner-rear positioning and new, gloss black rear diffuser. More new things? How about a heater vent in the front seat headrests? Yes, it’s available.
The BMW 2021 4-series is similar to the 2021 3-Series sedans when comparing the cabin, although the 3-Series maintains the original smaller kidney style grille. The underpinnings and mechanicals are the same as both also offer identical engines, IE a 255-horse turbo-4 in the entry 430i or our tester’s 382-horse turbo inline-6with 368-torque that powers the M440i models. xDrive AWD is available, but our convertible was a rear drive model.
As for adult passengers utilizing the rear seat of the 4-Series 2-door motif, it’s a bit cumbersome getting situated and requires the front power seat that adjusted automatically fully forward for access. If you’re a kid or the family pooch, there’s no problem. However, adults will find getting situated in the back a task, although once in place there’s surprisingly more than enough head and leg room. Access to the rear seating may be the Achilles heel of the 4-Series two-doors, yet most consumers who buy this sports oriented car aren’t choosing it for growing family purposes.
Although our M440i ragtop ended up in the expensive category, BMW loyalists who don’t demand all the high-performance mechanicals can get into the turbo inline-4 powered 430i version for just $45,600, which is a good deal in any BMW devotee’s book. However, our tester that starts at $53,000 with the inline-4 came with the recommended option upgrade to the M440i, the M designating MSport enhancements and another $10,900 to the price. It turns the regular 430i into a monster performer for $63,900 thanks mainly to the MSport turbocharged inline-6 that is one of BMW’s favorite performance engines and used in several of its serious MSport models. If you would rather the hardtop coupe, the move to the M-Series 440i moves up to $58,300 and you also receive the xDrive AWD feature as standard equipment. Because the hardtop coupe is lighter, zero to 60 arrives even quicker in just 4.3-seconds. (Me? Either one in my driveway would be a blessing!)
For this upward move in price, BMW owners receive all the expected MSport additions like special MSport alloy wheels on Michelin run flats, a sport tweaked independent suspension and stronger rear gears. MSport ancillary touches, of which there are many, include special exterior badges, rear spoiler, dual satin aluminum design exhaust tips and door sill MSport logos to name a few.
The EPA fuel mileage estimates are good, with the four-cylinder delivering 26 city and 34 highway while the more powerful six-cylinder is also right there with 23 city and 31 highway. This all comes thanks to the automatic transmission geared purposely for cruising and acceleration.
Being a convertible, the trunk space is limited versus the hardtop models, but that’s to be expected. Still, there is extra room under where the top folds down making for additional small luggage space.
The cabin is a near a 3-Series twin, with an oversized iDrive 7 infotainment system awaiting your input. Our tester had the optional 10.3-inch display screen connected to easy to use circular wheel controller. Apple, Android and Navigation are standard and can be viewed both on the main driver digital gauge display or the larger inch infotainment display. Our tester also featured Wi-Fi and wireless Smartphone charging, and probably more control buttons than Yuri Garigan (first man in space) had to operate back in 1961.
Just about every BMW we’ve driven the last five years is loaded with safety, and the 4-Series is no different if not even better. Most driver-assistance controls are standard fare like emergency braking with pedestrian detection; lane-departure warning and assist; rear all-around view camera; blind spot detection; and much more. Your BMW dealer will explain everything when you visit.
A notable when comparing what competitors offer is BMWs three-year complimentary maintenance plan. Considering BMW service is usually on the more expensive side, it’s worthy of note.
Options include $650 for special paint; $3,700 for an Executive live cockpit pro with heated front seats, head-up display, heated steering wheel and enhanced digital displays; Dynamic Handling for $1,300 that adds the MSport adaptive suspension; great sounding Harmon Kardon surround sound for $875; $500 for a WiFi Hotspot for phone charging; a $1,700 Driver Assistance Pro upgrade with traffic jam alert; the aforementioned headrest neck warmer for $500; and finally delivery for $995. It all brings the final tally to $73,845.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 112.2 inches, 4,171 lb. curb weight, 7.8 cu. ft. of cargo space, and a 15.6 gal fuel tank.
If you seek an exhilarating car that competes with the best vehicles on the road, you owe yourself a test drive in the all-new BMW 40Series M440i.
I just plain loved it and by the end of the week, now I like the new 4-Series grille.
Likes: Total performance, luxury, quiet for a ragtop.
Dislikes: Expensive options, high tech infotainment learning curve.
—Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist.