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Six months living with a BMW 440i Gran Coupe

Published: 06 September 2018

► BMW 4-series Gran Coupe
► Full long-term test review 
► What do we think after six months?

Well that went quickly. More than 12,000 miles in six months – with much of that crammed into the last few weeks – shows I’ve given the Gran Coupe a very thorough testing, but with little time to reflect on it until BMW took it away. But now it’s gone I can see that this ‘just drive it’ attitude to the 440 is quite significant, showing that it’s a very easy car to enjoy living with – although, yes, there are things I think could be better 

Our car, which arrived showing 2600 miles, is the most powerful model in the Gran Coupe line-up, and the only six-cylinder petrol version. Back then, the 440i M Sport was £45,490. Today it’s £46,845, a £3.6k premium over the comparable 340i. Visually, going for 4 rather than 3 gives you frameless doors and that sweeping fastback rear with hatchback opening. There’s still headroom for adults in the back, but we only carried kids about. I got used to the hatchback boot, but it’s a more long-winded electrical process to open it than the quick pop of an (equally spacious) saloon’s boot.

If you buy a 340i you pay £840 extra for the Professional media pack, £945 for electric memory seats, and a further £350 to get them heated, all of which the 440i has included.

A four-cylinder would’ve been cheaper to buy and run, of course, but I don’t think that suits the Gran Coupe’s ‘premium’ positioning, and I felt vindicated every time I pushed the starter – the purposeful burble, the smoothness and low-rpm flexibility… I do love a BMW straight six. 

It was quick, too, though perhaps not as urgent as such a big badge prompts you to expect. That I averaged 30mpg suggested the balance between performance and affordability was nicely judged, however. That it never needed a service and didn’t cost us anything other than petrol also endeared it to my wallet.

I immediately fell for our car’s Frozen Silver Metallic paint (a £1880 option) and the no-cost Cognac Dakota leather interior that I might not have been brave enough to spec. The latter did show grime, but it was quickly cleaned. The sat-nav was easy to use and I quickly learned to trust its diversions. The seats were comfortable, the ride composed, and the 440i eased away long motorway trips, even if there was perhaps more road noise than expected – the Gran Coupe facelift tightened up the suspension, so perhaps that’s the trade-off.

By Ben Barry

Logbook BMW 440i Gran Coupe

Price £45,490
As tested £57,605
Engine 2998cc 24v turbo 6-cyl, 322bhp @ 5500rpm, 332lb ft @ 1380rpm
Transmission 8-speed auto, rear-wheel drive 
Performance 5.1sec 0-62mph, 155mph (limited), 41.5mpg, 159g/km CO2 
Miles this month 1742
Total  7373 
Our mpg 28.5
Official mpg 41.5 
Fuel this month £344.02
Extra costs None 


Month 5 living with a BMW 4-series Gran Coupe: a Scottish adventure

Feeling old and wistful about my university days in Glasgow, a Scottish play in the 440i beckoned. My wife and I struck out up the A1 from the East Midlands early one morning, crossing east to west and latching onto the M6 and M74 towards Glasgow. Thanks to the 440i’s customary blend of comfort and easy performance, we were soon in Glasgow’s West End, wandering University Gardens where the linguistics department helped ready me for the composition of sentences not unduly tangled.

That afternoon we skirted north past Loch Lomond, the roads wet, largely empty and much more demanding. I tried to go quickly enough to entertain myself, if smoothly enough so as not to cause distress. Huge potholes contained the speed.

BMW 4-series Gran Coupe in Glasgow

We climbed towards Glen Coe as a snowstorm blew in, blanketing the mountainsides, leaving the road mostly untroubled at first, but thicker snow smothered the surface higher up. With the rear-drive 440i wearing Bridgestone Potenzas, it was fortuitous that an Astra slowed us all to a 10mph procession, and it was astonishing to watch said Vauxhall repeatedly bash the verge while maintaining some degree of control. The 440i never felt skittish.

We stayed in North Ballachulish that night, making for the Isle of Skye next morning in better if still slippery conditions, and following a well-driven Ford Ranger towards Invergarry and onto the A87 to Kyle of Lochalsh – learn your craft up here and it shows. There was barely a soul around as we motored on through that snowy wilderness, and the Gran Coupe settled into an easy, quick rhythm, its smooth-as-silk straight six and eight-speed auto a fantastic cross-country combination.

We’d intended to cross straight onto Skye using the bridge, but the A890 towards Applecross looked so inviting we gave it a go. It was a great road with scenery to match, but various road closures put a stop to that and we reverted to plan A. We didn’t spend long on Skye, soon catching a ferry from the southern tip back to the mainland. We peered out from the deck, frozen but entranced by the rugged foreignness of the scenery – and astounded that one couple were about to go camping. We used the ferry’s wi-fi to book digs in Fort William, and kept a good pace down the A830 at twilight, a road of long straights and fast corners. 

Scottish road trip in our BMW 440i Gran Coupe

Driven quickly on entertaining roads like these in Comfort mode, the 440i topples just a little too readily onto its outside springs after a disconcerting little pause, and with a lag to the steering weight too. Sport is better, giving a control to the suspension compression and dialling that dead spot out of the steering weight, but it’s pretty firm. This car handles well, but there’s a middle ground waiting to be tapped somewhere.

We passed just two cars on that entire 40-mile run to the outskirts of Fort William, and the risk of deer jumping out was obvious. Two were already walking over the road when I rounded one corner, picked out by the BMW’s adaptive LED lights. As they moved, a third bounded from a bank. Those brakes certainly work when needed.

Next morning we headed more easily south over a still-dramatic Glen Coe, but avoided repeating Loch Lomond with a detour over the fantastic – and better surfaced – A85 and A84 towards Stirling before making for the border. A great trip, and one made all the more enjoyable by the 440i.

By Ben Barry


Month 4 of our BMW 4-series Gran Coupe long-term test review: digital wobbles

The 440i’s emergency-braking system played up twice in one day. First, triggered by queuing traffic in the neighbouring lane, the car beeped and briefly grabbed the brakes. The second was worse. In slow traffic on a slip road, traffic suddenly stopped. The 440i did a full – and arguably unnecessary – emergency stop, sucking the brake pedal from under my foot.

BMW 4-series Gran Coupe digital instruments

The following 6-series almost hit the armco to avoid me. Did it save me from a prang? Possibly. Did it almost cause one? Definitely. Despite this, I still feel uneasy switching the system off. 

By Ben Barry

Logbook BMW 440i Gran Coupe

Price £45,490
As tested £57,605
Engine 2998cc 24v turbo 6-cyl, 322bhp @ 5500rpm, 332lb ft @ 1380rpm
Transmission 8-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Performance 5.1sec 0-62mph, 155mph (limited), 41.5mpg, 159g/km CO2
Miles this month 1742
Total  7373 
Our mpg 28.5
Official mpg 41.5
Fuel this month £344.02
Extra costs None 


Month 3 living with a BMW 440i Gran Coupe: like a miniature M4, only cheaper

On paper, there are lots of reasons to opt for a lesser, more sensible BMW Gran Coupe than the 440i, including running costs, purchase price and CO2. These are significant factors, and I get why business users might be attracted to the four-cylinder diesels and petrols – the 420d M Sport, for instance, costs £37k (440i: £45k) and offers 62.8mpg (440i: 41.5mpg); a 420d doesn’t even look particularly different to a 440i with those M Sport styling add-ons. But I don’t think the Gran Coupe’s more luxurious positioning over the very similar 3-series rings true with four-pot power, and each time I press the starter button I’m so grateful I’ve got the only six-cylinder petrol available in the Gran Coupe range.

CAR magazine's BMW 4-series Gran Coupe long-term test review

The 3.0-litre engine clears its throat with a purposeful gravelly roar, one that’s a little deeper than the naturally-aspirated BMW straight sixes I’ve loved ever since I bought a 1994 3.0-litre M3 – which, incidentally, the 440i outpunches to the tune of 40bhp and a huge 96lb ft, the latter in particular a benefit of turbocharging. There’s a lovely, smooth woofle under gentle acceleration, very little lag despite the forced induction, and a flexible surge of midrange thrust that makes overtaking effortless – even if you keep the eight-speed auto in manual mode and hold fourth or fifth gear. 

But I also think this engine is more faithful to Munich’s old straight sixes when you make a break for the redline than the M4’s related engine. I think that’s partly because the midrange torque is reduced, and feels like it comes in more progressively. The M4 gives you it all in a wallop that makes chasing the redline a bit pointless, where I still relish stretching the 440i right out to 7000rpm, at which point it’s still pulling strongly and with real energy. It’s like those old engines, just enhanced.

For me, the only sensible, more affordable substitute would be a 430d M Sport, which – unlike the 430i petrol – remains a smooth-talking straight six. That costs £42k, serves up 254bhp and a 440i-beating 413lb ft, and promises up to 53.3mpg. For a lot of the driving I do, it’d probably be the better compromise. But would I swap into one if I could? Not a chance.

By Ben Barry

Logbook: BMW 440i Gran Coupe

Price £45,490  
As tested £57,605  
Engine 2998cc 24v turbo 6cyl, 322bhp @ 5500rpm, 332lb ft @ 1380rpm
Transmission 8-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Performance 5.1sec 0-62mph, 155mph (limited), 41.5mpg, 159g/km CO2
Miles this month 1828
Total 5631
Our mpg 32.6
Official mpg 41.5
Fuel cost this month £302.83 
Extra costs None


Month 2 living with a BMW 440i Gran Coupe: do the driving modes work?

The 440i has a selection of driving modes that you access via a couple of switches next to the gearstick: Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport +.

BMW 4-series driving modes

Sport makes the engine and gearbox shift strategy a little more aggressive and responsive, which I prefer, but it also adds extra weight to the steering and – because our car has the optional adaptive dampers – tighter damping.

For daily driving, that’s unnecessary, especially in terms of the suspension, which I think already strikes a great balance between refinement and control in the Comfort setting. You can opt out of the changes to steering and suspension if you dig deeper into the sub-menus.

By Ben Barry

Logbook: BMW 440i Gran Coupe

Price £45,490  
As tested £57,605  
Engine 2998cc 24v turbo 6cyl, 322bhp @ 5500rpm, 332lb ft @ 1380rpm
Transmission 8-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Performance 5.1sec 0-62mph, 155mph (limited), 41.5mpg, 159g/km CO2
Miles this month 804
Total 3803
Our mpg 26.1
Official mpg 41.5
Fuel cost this month £166.66  
Extra costs None

CAR magazine's Ben Barry and our new 2018 BMW 4-series Gran Coupe

Month 1 of our BMW 4-series Gran Coupe long-term test: the introduction

Shortly before CAR’s new long-term BMW 440i Gran Coupe test car arrived, some friends provided a useful bit of context. They were choosing between a previous-generation 3-series and slightly used 4-series, and thought a 4 was bigger than a 3 but smaller than a 5. Which is completely logical but, of course, wrong. Since 2013, BMW has been applying the 4-series name to cars previously known as 3-series coupes and convertibles. Presumably this makes these models seem more special than the bread-and-butter saloons and estates.

In 2014 it added an all-new body style, the 4-series Gran Coupe, essentially a 4-series coupe with rear doors, more elegant frame-less glass, and a hatchback rear. That’s what we’re testing.

Recently, the entire 3- and 4-series line-up was given a midlife tickle. The most obvious tweaks for our Gran Coupe relate to the replacement of xenon headlights with LED headlights and tail lights. There are also new wheel designs, an updated interior with gloss black trim, a double-stitched dashboard, some electro-plated trim and updated infotainment too. The latter includes a tile layout for functions such as sat-nav, radio and telephone, which are highlighted as you scroll over them using the rotary control near the gearstick. We discovered in the X3 test last month that this works very well.

Chassis updates also include an increase in suspension stiffness. BMW claims better straight-line stability, more communicative steering and better handling, all with no loss of ride comfort. We’ll see about that.

Check out our scoop of the new BMW 3-series codenamed G20

You can get in a 4-series Gran Coupe for £33k, but that’s for the 420i (despite the upper-crust positioning, you still get prole-spec engines). We’ve gone for the 440i Gran Coupe, the next best thing to an M4 or M3; there is currently no such thing as an M4 Gran Coupe from M division.

BMW 4-series Gran Coupe long-term test review by CAR magazine: the interior

Our car’s vital stats are 322bhp and 322lb ft, and we’ll see how close we get to the official 41.5mpg while dipping into that performance and enjoying the chassis.

While xDrive all-wheel drive is available for most Gran Coupes including the comparable 435d diesel, the 440i comes only with rear-wheel drive. An eight-speed auto is also standard. So if you want a six-cylinder, petrol Gran Coupe, your options narrow to this, the rear-drive auto 440i. It costs £45,490. On top of that, our test car gets £12k of options – that’s £1k more than the entire cost of the 2009 320i Touring we bought three years back.

The most obvious is Frozen Silver metallic paint, which looks pretty fantastic but makes me fear for car washes, especially at £1880. I’ll certainly only be hand-washing it. It’s complemented by no-cost Cognac (brown) leather, which I like.

The remainder of the list breaks down as extra piano black trim (£375), heated steering wheel (£155), leather instrument panel (£815), glass sunroof (£895), split-folding rear seats (£170), lumbar support (£265), active cruise with stop-and-go (£620), surround-view camera (£500), adaptive LED headlights (£1050), digital cockpit (£295), Apple CarPlay (£235), and many things to which the word ‘package’ is appended, namely advanced parking (£545), active security (£995), driver comfort (£720), dynamic (£600) and the M Sport Plus package (£2000). It’s a meaty list, and we’ll debate the pros and cons over the coming months.

But as our 440i Gran Coupe aced a recent Giant Test against the Audi S5 and Kia Stinger GT, it’s off to the best possible start.

By Ben Barry

Logbook: BMW 440i Gran Coupe

Engine 2998cc 24v turbo 6-cyl, 322bhp @ 5500rpm, 332lb ft @ 1380rpm 
Gearbox 8-speed auto, rear-wheel drive 
Stats 5.1sec 0-62mph, 155mph (limited), 41.5mpg, 159g/km CO2 
Price £45,490 
As tested £57,605 
Miles this month 372 
Total 2999 
Our mpg  31.5mpg 
Official mpg 41.5 
Fuel this month £66.17 
Extra costs None

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