Sporty coupé showed its face – yes, that face – for the first time on our fleet. Did it impress?

Why we ran it: To see if a coupé still has a place on today’s SUV-filled roads 

Month 6 - Month 5Month 4 - Month 3Month 2Month 1 - Prices and specs

Bmw m440i pw lt 01033

Life with a BMW 4 Series: Month 6

Never mind what it looks like. What was it like to live with? Here’s our final verdict on the straight-six 4 Series - 30 June 2021

One of the beauties of this job is that we’re quite often in different machinery week to week. Upside: variety. Downside: bonding.

While you can deliver a verdict for a first drive in a week, you never really get to know a car’s character by only driving it for that amount of time; and let’s face it, when so many cars are so good these days, it’s the character of a machine that helps distinguish it.

And so it was with a heavy heart that we bade farewell to the BMW M440i xDrive Coupé, a few months after spending an equally delightful period of time in a 420d. But in this case there were two more people who were upset: my two sons. ‘Daddy’s racing car’ had been cruelly ripped away from them, and the school run (with a superb humpback bridge en route) was never going to be quite the same again.

They really did love the M440i: the engine note, the looks (they’re too young to cast aspersions on the grille), the way it hunkered low to the ground so it felt even faster to them.

These are the sorts of memories that stay with kids and mean they will grow up always having a soft spot for the brand – in the age of the omnipresent SUV and electricity, manufacturers would do well to remember some of this more visceral stuff.

The bits that remain in my mind even after the car has gone back are the random moments of pleasure, when the road emptied suddenly and also opened up, allowing you to really lean on the straight-six engine. With 369bhp and 369lb ft, it was punchy enough to be enjoyable but delicate and reactive enough to be exciting at sensible speeds.

We had some great short blasts, sometimes on the school run (we’re lucky enough that it contains some testing roads) and other times during assorted trips at the weekend.

We were stuck in lockdown during the first bit of the petrol BMW’s time with us, but as things eased so we got to enjoy the car more. The way it absorbed whatever sort of road or journey I threw at it was mightily impressive. With a supple ride and reasonable fuel economy (low 30s from a petrol straight six isn’t bad), it could do motorways easily, helped by the relaxed eight-speed automatic gearbox. But drop it into manual, click through the paddles and it was superb over a B-road as well.


Read our review

Car review

The facelifted BMW 4 Series has improved on an already solid proposition but can it hold off the likes of the latest generation Audi A5 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé?

Back to top

I never did bother flicking between the driving modes. I did switch through them in the interests of trying to work out whether or not they made a material difference, but soon gave up fiddling. The car was good enough in the standard Comfort setting.

Of course there were annoyances – no car is perfect. Chief among those was the Active Lane Keep Assist. I’ve never seen so many reader letters on one subject, with every single one roundly condemning the technology: Euro NCAP and manufacturers would do well to pay heed to the level of feeling aroused by it. Fortunately, you can still turn it off in the BMW with a single press of the button (my patented ‘Vettel’ approach – see ‘Loathe it’), or dial it right down, but my bugbear is that technology is meant to help. If you have to switch something off, it shouldn’t be there in the first place.

The iDrive system was largely brilliant and easy to control – the balance of touchscreen and rotary dial was perfect – but there were some foibles. Phone calls had a weird delay that meant you had to pause once you had finished speaking, to wait for the other person to reply. And navigation app Waze seemed intent on forcing the system to play music from the phone library, rather than remain on radio. To be fair, BMW hasn’t had any of these issues reported by customers, so it could just be my phone.

And that grille. It remains controversial but, while the car was with us, it seemed to attract fewer and fewer negative comments as more and more of the cars appeared on our roads. What it does mean is that the car is terribly spec-dependent.

The metallic black of our BMW worked because it was fitted with the optional Shadowline Plus Pack so the grille blended in, but I still think the best bet would be Arctic Race Blue metallic (standard on the M440i) with Shadowline. Subtle but different.

As I’ve mentioned, we started off with a 420d M Sport. That car was a lovely thing but it never got under my skin the way the M440i did. The diesel was quick enough, comfy enough, enjoyable enough, but lacked that final bit of frisson that meant no journey ever really stuck in my mind. You couldn’t say that about the M440i.

Back to top

The key thing for me was that the petrol coped with general family life but also added excitement. We piled kids into it, went to the beach, crammed office chairs into the boot, took dogs to the vet, but it simply shrugged and got on with it. All in a coupé, remember.

And then when you wanted a spontaneous early morning trip, it was there to deliver. As I said, Daddy’s racing car will be missed.

Bmw m440i pw lt 00963

Second Opinion

The fact that Piers spent most of his time in Comfort goes to show how well calibrated the M440i is. Rivals can be overly conservative with gearshifts and throttle response in their ‘standard’ settings, but BMW has judged it perfectly. The exhaust may sound fruitier in Sport mode, but the heavier steering and stiffer suspension that come with it aren’t always so desirable.

Tom Morgan

Back to the top

Love it:

Punchy and smooth BMW’s legendary straight six hasn’t lost any of its magic in mild-hybrid form. A real treat every time.

Who needs an SUV? Coupé shape but practical with it. This is more than 200 trees and they all fitted in.

Back to top

Toasty in winter Heated seats and steering wheel were great, coming on automatically below a certain temperature.

Loathe it:

Doing a ‘Vettel’ We never did get used to the lane keeping assist. Only option was to turn it off before every journey.

Blacked out The black paint looked lovely when it was clean but awful when it wasn’t. It wouldn’t be my choice.

Final mileage: 4740

Back to the top

A reminder that, if done right, in-car tech is a wondrous thing - 23 June 2021

It's funny how 20 years of development (or people getting used to something) has turned an object of horror into the best system on the market.

BMW’s iDrive was widely panned when it was launched on the 7 Series in 2001 (I can remember customers in dealers staring at it, terrified to touch in case it was a form of modern sorcery), but the system in the M440i is one of the best out there. It feels so natural.

Why? The combination of a touchscreen and a dial, coupled with a (largely) seamless Apple CarPlay link. Simply drop an iPhone onto the wireless charging pad and you are good to go, with your music and phone functions, including apps like Waze, synced up virtually instantly.

The rotary dial is the key for functionality. I rarely use the touchscreen element, because the click-dial is so intuitive. You can scroll through multiple menus easily, search for a phone number or select different podcasts – all with minimum distraction.

The only issue I’ve found relates to Waze: when I select this sat-nav app, it turns the radio off. It’s then a five-step process to get back to whichever station was playing. Very odd.

Mileage: 4203

Bmw m440i pw lt 00857

Back to top

Back to the top

No shortage of space - 9 June 2021

The M440i has been excelling with its practical coupé vibe recently. For instance, on a rare trip to the office, I needed to transport an office chair back home. It was a tight squeeze to thread it into the back of the BMW – accompanied by quite a lot of cursing on my part, but I’ve apologised since. And the chair functions beautifully for working-from-home duties.

Mileage: 4094

Img 5268

Back to the top

Life with a BMW 4 Series: Month 5

Crucial to any coupé’s appeal is being engaging on a good road, and this one sure is - 26 May 2021

It’s admittedly not an acronym that’s likely to catch on any time soon, but lately I’ve been enjoying a spot of wembing in the M440i. Weekend early-morning blasting, in case you were wondering.

With lockdown easing, it has been possible to finally enjoy the M440i more as it was intended, with a couple of visits to grandparents who happily live at the end of some great roads in Lincolnshire. It has given me a chance to really examine the M440i and, without getting too chin-scratchy about it, to look at whether its poorer fuel economy and higher cost versus the 420d make sense.

Back to top

Previously, I had always been convinced that, worthy as BMW’s four-cylinder diesel engine was, if it were my own money, I would somehow try to stretch to a six-pot, either petrol or diesel. But the 420d I ran before this M440i made me question that notion. I couldn’t see where I would really need the extra punch, as it coped with every sort of journey that was thrown its way.

But then a wemb in the M440i changed my mind again. There was no single element of the way it dealt with that flowing back road that stood out, but it was a physical release to enjoy a drive as much as I did that morning. The road was clear, the sight lines long, the weather right and the BMW spot on. It was honestly as good as I’ve felt about a trip in ages.

Bmw m440i pw lt 00979

Why was I happier in the M440i? The freer-revving straight six definitely helped, as did the way the car feels slightly less nose-heavy than the 420d. That’s probably entirely psychological, but the M440i does seem to bite into apexes with slightly sharper teeth.

Its weight transfer is glorious, with balanced body roll to make it feel interesting but with the sort of grip that inspires confidence. Thus it flowed through those corners, with enough noise and interaction to create a memory and without me doing silly speeds.

The eight-speed torque-convertor gearbox is also better in the M440i. In the 420d, it quite often left me stranded as I approached a roundabout on a trailing throttle, hovering between cogs. Its meshing with this powertrain is much slicker.

Back to top

BMW gives you myriad driving modes to choose from, but they’re largely irrelevant to the experience. The M440i is good without the need to switch from Comfort to Sport. I rarely do, instead driving according to the road and the car, without trying to mess around to make either fit to me (if that doesn’t sound too pompous).

Part of the problem is there are simply too many options to choose from: it’s like a Heinz 57 Varieties menu. There are four modes in total: Comfort, Eco Pro (far too hairshirty), Sport and Adaptive. Sport has three sub-menus, running to Sport, Sport Plus and Individual. Within the latter, you can control everything from the damping to the steering, while Adaptive proactively puts itself in what it considers the best mode according to information from the sat-nav as well as how you’re driving.

To be fair to BMW, it’s easy to flick through these modes, as there’s a set of individual rubberised buttons by the gear selector. Even diving into the sub-menu for Sport requires just a couple of stabs of the same button. But I rarely switch. The car defaults to Comfort every time you start it up, and the other settings aren’t significantly different enough to warrant faffing around with them.

It’s a minor blot, and one that certainly didn’t spoil my wemb.

Love it:

Clickety click Its mixture of touch-sensitive icons and physical buttons make iDrive one of the best infotainment systems around.

Loathe it:

Sliding in Chunky side bolsters and metal rivets on jeans mean I’ve managed to scratch the leather on the driver’s seat.

Mileage: 4083

Back to the top

Keeps you toasty - 12 May 2021

Having given the 4 Series a kicking for its lane-keeping aid, it’s only fair to praise it for another robot feature: its heated seats and steering wheel. If the outside temperature is below my setting of 7deg C, the driver’s warming pads automatically turn themselves on. Crucially, the seat only sets itself at one bar out of three – warm enough to be pleasant without risking pants-on-fire.

Back to top

Mileage: 3334

Img 5249

Back to the top

We can’t be alone in giving lane-keeping assistance the finger - 5 May 2021

I like to think of my start procedure in the M440i as ‘The Vettel’. Remember his routine from a grand prix victory, if your memory goes back that far? Seb used to give a single-finger-in-the-air salute. And every time I jump in the BMW, I do the same – although in my case, it’s less celebratory and more to do with turning off the lane-keeping aid.

To be fair to BMW, it’s a simple process to cancel it: simply raise a single finger, then press and hold the button just below the infotainment screen. In one simple action, you turn off all the driving assistance features. The trouble is, you have to do this at the start of every journey, because it defaults to being on.

Don’t do it and the system tugs the wheel if you stray towards the white line in a way that I find to be very offputting. Recently, I swerved to avoid a cat at the side of the road, only for the car to try to force me back towards it. Moggy survived, but only just.

This isn’t entirely BMW’s fault. Euro NCAP recently overhauled its testing criteria, with more focus on active safety technology, but I would argue that it’s creating more problems than it’s solving. Readers agree with me, if the size of our postbag is anything to go by.

Back to top

Mileage: 3251

Bmw m440i pw lt 01083

Back to the top

Life with a BMW 4 Series: Month 4

Shine a light - 21 April 2021

At £1500, the BMW Laserlights aren’t cheap. But boy do they light the road up well, casting a really white light across a huge swathe
of countryside up ahead. They certainly make night-time driving a whole lot easier. High Beam Assist is included in the cost. It works most of the time but occasionally can be slow to pick up oncoming traffic.

Mileage: 2975

Bmw 4 series lights

Back to top

Back to the top

Life with a BMW 4 Series: Month 3

We’ve swapped our diesel 4 Series for the more potent straight-six petrol model - 7 April 2021

You do have to pinch yourself in this job sometimes. First I was lucky enough to be able to run a BMW 420d Coupé, and then the other day a chap with a lorry turned up to swap it for the top ‘non-M’ 4 Series, the M440i xDrive.

BMW coupés have historically always felt special, but this one is arguably even more so. Straight-six engines are a dying breed (just look at what Mercedes-Benz is up to with its new C-Class for proof), so it feels like we’re keeping a bit of the heritage going with this particular car.

Day-to-day and pottering around, you don’t notice the difference in pace too much between this and the four-cylinder diesel 420d. But just occasionally the road will open up and you can stretch the 440i a bit more, letting that six pull towards its redline, as smoothly as they have done since time began. The 420d wasn’t a slouch, but you could feel it running out of puff more quickly.

Having said that, I will miss the 420d’s sensible and effortless ability to eat miles: it was a remarkably composed and comfortable companion. But my heart is definitely keener on this black car.

That paint has its pros and cons. It helps to hide the front grille slightly (yes, we’re still going on about it), because on this M440i the nose has been optionally body-coloured, so it all blends in more. You almost don’t notice it. But it’s also a pain to keep clean at this time of year.

It’s a no-cost option, but if it were my choice, I would keep the 420d’s metallic Arctic Race Blue (it’s a £670 option on the diesel but standard on this M Performance model) and then add the £750 Shadowline Plus Pack, which gives our M440i that dulled-down nose and adds other black trim elements, including the gloss 19in alloy wheels. Even the lights get a smoked look. It’s a bit gangster, but I think this car can pull that off.

Back to top

Other options fitted to our new M440i run to the Visibility Pack (£1500 for laser headlights and highbeam assistance), the Technology Plus Pack (£3650), the Comfort Plus Pack (£1950) and Piano Black interior trim (£500).

The laser lights are superb: a crystal-clear and very white beam covers a vast swathe of the dark countryside. What I haven’t yet had time to find out is whether the high-beam assistance works well or if it dazzles other drivers; more on that in a later report.

Like the exterior, the Piano Black trim looks good when it is clean but is soon spoiled by dust. It would also be interesting to see if the gloss on the gearknob gets easily bashed and scratched; I’d have to get someone with more hand jewellery than me to drive it for a bit to see if it scuffs up.

Having had the Technology Plus Pack and the Comfort Plus Pack on the 420d, there are definitely elements of both that would appeal if I were buying a 4 Series. Things like the Harman Kardon stereo, heated steering wheel, electric seats and wireless phone charging are brilliant.

Driving Assistant Professional? Less so, but that’s where these manufacturers are clever: by offering just enough stuff bundled into a pack that it makes financial sense even if you don’t want some elements of it.

Love it:

Increasingly rare Now that the Mercedes C-Class has gone fours only, the straight six in the M440i feels even more special.

Loathe it:

Something of the night Black paint looks good if kept clean – which isn’t exactly easy in the UK.

Mileage: 2345

420d meets m440i

Back to top

Back to the top

Preparing for a change - 24 March 2021

Sadly, our time with the 420d Coupé is nearly up, so I gave it a final spruce and wash before it heads back to BMW. I’m genuinely going to miss its ability to comfortably eat up miles: something I was able to enjoy all too rarely while it was with us. Despite all the talk of electric cars, the smooth four-cylinder diesel still takes some beating for effortless schleps.

Mileage: 1697

Back to the top

Life with a BMW 4 Series: Month 2

Maybe some different specs would make that face less frightening - 10 March 2021

If you were ever in any doubt about what people think of BMW’s latest design language, take a peek at the online comments beneath our recent interview with Adrian van Hooydonk and Domagoj Dukec, Munich’s styling bosses. Let’s just say readers have yet to be convinced…

Interestingly, you don’t get as much reaction from people on the street. Whether that says more about the current atmosphere online or the fact that you rarely see anyone in these locked-down days, I’m not quite sure. Or maybe it’s because the 4 Series is largely an elegant shape that’s only questionable from certain angles; if it’s driving along or someone walks past it, they don’t have time to study it in detail.

But it all got me thinking: how would the man himself, Adrian van Hooydonk, spec his own 4 Series? He was kind enough to log onto BMW’s online configurator for us, and the result is the image you see below. I’ll be honest: I like it.

He went for the M440i xDrive Coupé with Dravit Grey metallic paint (£1100) and 19in bicolour jetblack wheels. Interestingly, because it’s the M440i, it gets as standard quite a dull grille surround compared with our car’s. As such, it tones down that controversial element. It’s almost a nod to the colour on the publicity shots for the new M5 Clubsport.

Back to top

Inside, it’s a break from a black interior: instead, van Hooydonk went for Cognac with Mocca contrast-stitching Vernasco leather. Brown cowhide, in other words. I don’t think it would be my choice: I prefer the muted black of our 420d.

I find it fascinating to see how designers would specify their own cars. They spend months – years, even – worrying over every last detail of their creation, but every single car is spec-sensitive.

It’s also interesting to see what colours they pick. These people are looking far ahead into the future, trying to spot what trends might be coming; their colour choices tell you where they feel the market might be heading. Muted, in this instance.

In other news, our 420d has moved very little recently. It’s disappointing for any car to sit idle, but especially one as relaxing and well sorted as this. I find myself volunteering for every essential shopping trip just to get into it. Fingers crossed, the gradual easing of lockdown measures will mean I can venture further afield.

For now, the fuel economy figure is hovering around the mid-40s, so hopefully those longer drives will boost it – and give me an opportunity to see if the wider public’s views of that grille have mellowed.

Love it:

Ride quality Having spent time in other cars with questionable ride quality recently, it’s a welcome relief to be back in the well-damped BMW.

Loathe it:

Lane keeping assistance We often criticise such electronic nannies, but this one is particularly active at trying to wrench the steering wheel out of your hands.

Mileage: 1636

Back to the top

More than a dusting - 24 February 2020

For when the snow is so deep that an ordinary ice scraper won’t do: I had to resort to commandeering my child’s plastic spade to dig the 4 Series out of the recent blanketing. Despite having a diesel engine, the BMW doesn’t take too long to heat up, but it would surely be quicker still with a quick-clear windscreen. Long-handled ice scrapers it is for the moment, then.

Back to top

Mileage: 1647

Img 4908

Back to the top

Shines up nicely - 10 February 2020

The combination of lockdown and snow has meant that the 420d hasn’t moved much recently. But a rare recent trip out was at night and, looking at the state of my lights before I set off, I thought I had better get the bucket and rag out. Not many modern cars have headlight washers; given the filthy state of my cloth afterwards, that seems like a big miss.

Mileage: 1560

Img 4652

Back to top

Back to the top

Life with a BMW 4 Series: Month 1

Our car gets a root-and-branch review of its load-lugging ability - 3rd February 2020

Purely anecdotally, it feels like people are buying fewer coupé models these days.

The hard data from BMW backs this up: it shifted fewer 4 Series in 2019 compared with 2017 (although there are extenuating circumstances around Covid-19 and the fact that the previous version was coming to the end of its term).

It’s a phenomenon that I feel needs to stop. The world would be a poorer place without coupés’ elegance and simplicity of design (and yes, I’m ignoring the grille on the 420d), not to mention the way they generally tend to be pretty decent to drive.

Is it because people are worried that they’re impractical? Quite possibly. We’re all getting more stuff and people want their car to fit their lifestyle. So in recent weeks, I’ve spent the time trying to prove that our 420d Coupé really can cut it as a family car.

And what better way to test it than collect 200 trees? A friend was starting to plant a wood on his farm, promised me that they were really very small trees and so naturally I volunteered the 4 Series to help. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to test the car even further, I even crammed in my two children as well.

Off we set, with the radio volume on a constant up/down loop, due to my eldest being fascinated by the gesture control, and me with a slightly nervous sense of whether I had bitten off more than the car could chew. Imagine the relief as we got to the nursery to discover that the trees were really very small. A lot were only a foot high and all were wrapped in neat plastic bags, so we wouldn’t make a mess of the BMW’s carpeted boot.

Img 4656

Back to top

As such, it was surprisingly easy to cram all the trees into said area. Lean in, pull a couple of levers and the rear seats fold down – not quite flat but not far off. Crucially, the aperture they reveal is quite large, so the taller trees we were transporting (and some were five-feet-plus) easily poked through into the cabin. The seats are also split 60/40, so one child could comfortably remain in his booster for the journey to my pal’s farm. Even if he did squeak a bit when one of the branches scratched him.

In terms of raw numbers, the 420d Coupé’s boot measures 440 litres. That isn’t a million miles off that of the 3 Series saloon (480 litres) or even what the 3 Series Touring estate will fit beneath its parcel shelf (500 litres).

Other practical touches include the nifty hooks in the boot, so you can secure loose bags and not have them flying around all over the place. And with a set of seatbelt butlers, you’re not wrenching your arm to grab the belt. Neither of these is a new invention, but it’s amazing how these little touches make the difference when you’re living with the car.

We have experienced a few downsides, though. You sit quite low in the rear, so small children struggle to see out, while it’s also quite dark (blame the rising shoulder line towards the boot). In a locked-down winter with grey skies, it’s easy to see people get SAD back there. The good news is that I don’t sit there, so it’s a minor blip as far as I’m concerned… Otherwise, the 420d is proving to be a remarkably easy car to live with.

Love it:

Family friendly… The 420d is fitting into a family lifestyle surprisingly well, even if it’s not getting used much, due to the current lockdown restrictions.

Loathe it:

…with slow seats This is an odd criticism, but the electric seats are quite slow to fold out of the way for access into the rear. Manuals would be faster.

Mileage: 1515

Back to the top

Back to top

Festive sat-nav - 20 January 2020

A nice ‘Happy New Year from BMW’ message greeted me when I fired up the 420d for the first time in 2021. Obviously, it’s impersonal and entirely generated by a computer code somewhere, but it did bring a little bit of feel-good cheer to an otherwise slightly flat start to the year. Let’s face it: it’s better that than a news update.

Mileage: 1350

Img 4697 1

Back to the top

Welcoming the 4 Series to the fleet - 6 January 2020

It’s probably best to get the grille discussion out of the way now. Yes, this BMW 420d is blessed with the controversial nose… Hmm, maybe ‘blessed’ isn’t quite the right word. Cursed? Damned? Either way, it features the grille and there’s very little getting away from it.

But we’ll get into that a bit more in a subsequent update. The road test verdict that you’ll have already read was less than enthusiastic – personally, I’m genuinely intrigued to see whether it grows on me.

What is less controversial than the grille is the styling around the rest of the car: classic coupé lines and all the better for it. A large crease on the lower edge of the doors helps to hunker the car to the ground visually, while the uptick lines towards the rear finish it all off nicely. The M rear spoiler is standard and seems a bit unnecessary on a four-cylinder diesel, so let’s call it a Gurney flap and feel better about ourselves.

Back to top

The road testers were more enthusiastic about how it drives, so we won’t go into that again here. Instead, let’s focus on options and spec on this lower-powered car.

In this M Sport trim level, there are plenty of aggressive scoops and ducts (some fake, mind), but with our 420d’s Arctic Race Blue metallic paint (a £670 option), these don’t appear to be as aggressive as on paler cars because they blend into each other a bit more. On that paint for a moment – it’s superb. It doesn’t feel like we’ve followed the crowd and opted for a grey car, but it’s not so shouty that you’re attracting unwanted attention. A coupé should be classy and understated, and this one feels just that.

The paint also helps to distract your eye from the sun protection glass a bit. It’s an option at £320. In these darker, colder months, I’m not sure I’d bother with it, but then maybe my children will appreciate it on a sunny day.

Other options run to a Technology Plus Pack and Comfort Plus Pack. The former isn’t cheap at £3650, but it does come with plenty of goodies. Deep breath: Driving Assistant Professional, Parking Assistant Plus, head-up display, Harman Kardon surround sound, BMW Drive Recorder, enhanced Bluetooth with wireless charging, gesture control and wi-fi hotspot preparation.

At £1950, Comfort Plus, includes a heated steering wheel, powered bootlid (who knew those wouldn’t be standard fit these days?), keyless entry, electric front seats, lumbar support and extended storage.

11 Bmw 4 series 2021 long term review dashboard

Back to top

From my initial impressions (I’ve done only about 100 miles in it so far), I’d say the Comfort Plus Pack is well worth it, especially that heated steering wheel at this time of year. The Technology Plus Pack is a bit trickier to justify. Things like the head-up display and Harman Kardon surround sound are brilliant, and definitely worth ticking, and the gesture control keeps my son entertained for hours. But elements such as the Driving Assistant Professional leave me slightly cold. It contains features including active cruise control and lane control, neither of which I’m a huge fan of.

BMW Drive Recorder is something I hope I’ll never have to use. It comes in conjunction with park assist and uses the cameras from the parking system to record and store video footage from different points around the car. It will store 40 seconds of video and keeps 20 seconds of footage either side of a shunt. It’s a handy thing but, like I say, hopefully not something that will be needed.

The rest of the interior feels much as you’d expect – a pleasant place to spend time. There is a touchscreen but I’ve hardly had to poke it so far because BMW has sensibly stuck with buttons for all of the regular things you need access to. It will be a sad day if BMW ever decides to do away with those shortcut buttons on the dashboard. Ranging from one to eight, they can be programmed by the driver for quick access to all manner of things and they’re incredibly useful.

The 420d already feels like it will be an excellent cruiser. That could be a very handy thing when Autocar HQ opens back up again. I live north of Peterborough and the office is in Twickenham, so something to absorb that sort of journey is going to be a godsend. The four-cylinder diesel engine is refined, both from the inside and the outside, and with 187bhp and 295lb ft, it’ll do 0-62mph in 7.1sec. A fair to middling figure.

As you’d expect with a diesel, though, mid-range urge is more impressive and it’s easy to make decent progress in this car. The steering is sharp and the ride largely complements the slightly more GT nature of the 420d. The sensibly sized 18in wheels help.

6 Bmw 4 series 2021 long term review alloy wheels

Back to top

What’s more disappointing is the fuel economy. To be fair, the car has done just 800-odd miles in total so far and it’s only been on short-squirt journeys, but the 35.7mpg that it’s reading at the moment is a long way short of the WLTP figure of 67.3mpg.

Hopefully, a few longer journeys will get the real and theoretical closer – something that’s not exactly a terrible prospect in this car.

Second Opinion

Having recently spent a day with a modestly equipped 420i, I don’t think it will take Piers long before any apprehension about that divisive front end disappears. It was the BMW’s relaxed long-distance demeanour and rear-driven dynamic prowess, which doesn’t come at the expense of ride comfort, that stuck in the mind – not its nose.

Tom Morgan

Back to the top

BMW M440i xDrive Coupé specification

Prices: List price new £54,645 List price now £54,670 Price as tested £62,995

Options:Visibility Pack £1500, Technology Plus Pack £3650, Shadowline Plus Pack £750, Comfort Plus Pack £1950, Piano Black trim £500

Fuel consumption and range: Claimed economy 36.2-36.7mpg Fuel tank 59 litres Test average 30.7mpg Test best 32.5mpg Test worst 29.6mpg Real-world range 398 miles

Tech highlights: 0-62mph 4.5sec Top speed 155mph (governed) Engine 6 cyls in line, 2998cc, turbocharged petrol, plus 48V ISG Max power 369bhp Max torque 369lb ft Transmission 8-speed automatic Boot capacity 440 litres Wheels 19in, alloy Tyres 225/45 R19, Bridgestone Potenza S005 Kerb weight 1815kg

Service and running costs: Contract hire rate £745.94 CO2 175-178g/km Service costs none Other costs none Fuel costs £462.49 Running costs inc fuel £462.49 Cost per mile 19 pence Faults none

Bmw 4 series coupe depreciation graph

Back to top

Join the debate

Add a comment…
PelagieDouroul 25 July 2021

I didnt think i could take the time to read all the article. I'm a relly big fan of BMW with audi too. I'm really choked by the fact they decrease the price after years. Like, is it really true the car is not the same as the beggining ? Cuz if i can pay 20k for this car, even with 4 years. I think i will be def happy ! 

TStag 26 April 2021

If you are after a BMW by the way spec the fineline wood option if they still do it, it's much better and doesn't look too woody. Hopefully they don't still do the fake silver dash that's dreadful as it's too plasticky

TStag 26 April 2021
Omg they’ve gone for the Hexagon metal finish again. I just replaced all the panels on my 3 series because they scratched so badly. Don’t spec it, it’s the worst plasticky trim ever made, even my old Pug 308 had an interior that was more resistant to scratches than that rubbish. They should pay you to spec it. Honest to god why?