I’m not a large man. On a good day, I stand at 1.75m and come in around 72kg, or 73kg if I’ve had a bit too much for lunch. Yet, I still felt a tad claustrophobic while piloting the new BMW M440i, mainly because of the large centre console that rubs against your left leg on aggressive right turns.
Still, it’s just a small kink in an otherwise impressive package — that includes the hefty steering wheel, hinting at the power that the car holds. A sonorous 3-litre, six-cylinder engine pushes the M440i to complete the century sprint in 4.7 seconds and there’s more than enough oomph to execute overtaking manoeuvres on city streets.
The car is more than capable on Comfort. However, it shines the brightest when you switch it to Sport mode. Electronically controlled dampers on the active suspension system give you the confidence to tackle corners at speeds that might make your mother give you a sharp, piercing stare while the incredibly rigid body ensures minimal body roll.
BMW engineers have also installed a mild hybrid system that provides the additional acceleration you need to win a traffic light drag race. Not that I’m advocating for you to drive in this manner, but it’s always good to know that you’re able to call on any of these features when the time calls for it.
Admittedly, I’ve never been a fan of BMW’s new (well, not so new now) front grille, having been raised on a diet of wide kidney grilles helmed by the brooding Clive Owen in the web series The Hire. But I’ve come to terms with it, like an Asian parent understanding that his child doesn’t want to be a doctor.
The M440i has that polarising front grille and a low, sweeping roofline, hence its Gran Coupe moniker. As a whole, it looks great — enough character to stand out from the other cars on the streets without being too narcissistic.
The $400,000 question is whether the car is worth its sticker price, considering the sharp rise in COE recently. If you want performance on tap while still having some room for practicality — the boot space clocks in at a healthy 470 litres — the M440i is a worthy competitor. Just make sure you don’t eat too much for lunch.
Speaking about lunch…