I've long had mixed feeling about the performance versions of European luxury cars. Although they are fun to drive in ideal conditions, they can be hard to live with on a day-to-day basis. The powerful engine always want to break free and the stiff suspensions are punishing on rough roads. Plus, in recent year, the complexity of the infotainment systems is getting to be a distraction, especially with the ever-larger display screens that threaten to take over the entire dash.
So I was pleasantly surprised by the 2022 BMW M440i Gran Coupe. It's turbocharged 3.0-liter straight six hybrid engine is well mannered around town but capable of immediate bursts of acceleration, especially in the Sport mode. Even then the adaptive M suspension stays supple, absorbing imperfections instead of transferring them into the cabin. And the center display is a reasonable 10.3-inch screen controlled by an easy to use dial on the console.
The most controversial aspect of the car is clearly its styling. BMW has redesigned many of its models with a bulbous nose that makes the spindle Lexus grill look sedate. The 440i is also a hard to pull off four-door hatchback intended to look like a sport coupe. I think the engineers nailed it, offering an attractive profile with 45.6 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded down. The integrated rear spoiler helps complete the coupe-like appearance.
The interior design is also pleasantly restrained. The 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is easy to read and understand, while the infotainment control dial keeps buttons to a minimum. My tester has an attractive two-tone color scheme, dark blue on the upper dash and doors to match the exterior, and warm brown on the seats, bottom of the dash and centers of the doors that looked great.
My tester was also equipped with a high-end Harman Kardon surround sound system and a premium package that added a heated steering wheel and front seats, a head-up display and subtle ambient lighting throughout the cabin.
Options included upgraded driver-assistance and active safety systems, including a 3D surround-view camera system, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot detection and more.
And it came with XDrive, BMW's excellent all-wheel-drive system, which provides addition traction in wet Pacific Northwest conditions.
Even with all that, the total price was under $70,000 which is very reasonable considering how well-equipped it was. If you can get by with less, the base price is an even more reasonable $58,000.
In a week of test driving, the 2022 BMW M440i Gran Coupe was always a delight to drive. It was quick without overwhelming, sporty without riding harsh, and extremely comfortable in the cabin. The M440i is also available as a convertible for warm weather driving, but the Gran Coupe over more rear seat room if that's a priority.
A Pamplin Media Group review of the 2022 BMW M440i can be found here.
Base price: $58,200
Price as tested: $69,570
Type: Compact sedan hatchback
Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder and electric motor (382 hp, 368 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Modes: Normal, Sport, Adaptive
EPA estimated mileage: 22/29
Overall length: 188.5 inches
Curb weight: 4169 pounds
Final assembly: Dingolfing, Germany
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