2022 BMW M440i and i4 Gran Coupes
I recently drove two versions of the new BMW 4-series Gran Coupe, one of which is completely internal combustion engine (ICE) powered—it actually has a 48 Volt mild hybrid system, so I guess we can delete the word “completely”—and the other of which is a totally battery electric vehicle (BEV).
I’ll start with the BEV i4 M50, which is the more interesting car, but I’ll need to limit my remarks since I was only able to drive it briefly at a BMW event.
As the electric age dawns, automotive manufacturers are launching BEVs in one of two ways—with a platform that can accept either an ICE or BEV propulsion system, or a bespoke BEV-only platform. The i4 M50 is the former, and I’m pleased that I was able to drive both the M440i and i4 M50.
A quick aside: BMW’s M-division turns 50 this year, and the i4 M50’s name is an obvious tip-of-the-cap to that significant milestone. Expect to see many more efforts by BMW to highlight M this year. (Space limitations preclude a full discussion of the rich history of BMW M here, but interested readers are encouraged to listen to my Podcast, Cars on Call: episode 13, where “M at 50” gets the attention it deserves.)
Anyway, the first adjective I thought of when driving the i4 M50 was “fast”, because this car is seriously and relentlessly quick. No matter what speed you’re going, the i4 M50 will catapult you forward in spectacular fashion when you press the throttle. Car and Driver says that the i4 M50 will do 0-60MPH in 3.3 seconds, 0.2 seconds quicker than an M3 Competition, and I believe it.
That impressive performance comes thanks to the i4 M50’s 536HP, but there’s no free lunch in life—optimal range is just 227 miles.
Handling is reassuringly neutral because of a low center of gravity (the battery pack sits in the floor of the i4 M50 as it does in all BEVs).
Despite impressive driving dynamics, however, the elephant in the room with this car as well as many other BEVs is actually an elephant—the i4 M50 weighs 5063lbs, 1243lbs more than an M3 Competition and about the same as an adult proboscidean.
On to the M440i Gran Coupe, which, as noted above, is essentially the same car as the i4 M50 but with ICE propulsion.
Naturally, driving the M440i is quite different from its BEV sibling. Pushing the “start” button results in the sound of an engine starting, and putting the car in “Drive” and motoring away feels very normal. While the M440i sounds like a modern BMW turbocharged in-line six, the i4 M50 sounds like the future, with a synthetic electronic sound that’s impossible to describe but pretty cool.
As alluded to above, the M440i’s engine is a 382HP 3.0-liter inline-six that’s augmented by a 48-volt hybrid system, and it comes standard with all-wheel drive. The purpose of the hybrid assist is to help with acceleration at low speeds, thereby burning less gasoline.
A RWD four-cylinder 255HP 430i Gran Coupe is available for $13,000 less, but given the extra power and smoothness of BMW’s classic inline-six, I’d urge potential customers to stretch for the bigger engine.
Fuel economy figures are 22MPG City/31MPG Highway for the M440i Gran Coupe, 25MPG/34MPG for the 430i, and 79MPGe/80MPGe for the i4 M50.
All 4-series Gran Coupes are hatchbacks, which is great. Nothing wrong with sedans, of course, but a hatch adds significant utility that you will appreciate every time you go to the grocery store or Lowes. And hats off to BMW’s designers who were able to give the new 4-series Gran Coupe the more formal profile of a sedan to go with that extra utility.
All 4-series Gran Coupes also get the, ahem, prominent front two-kidney grille that’s very much a “love it or hate it” design element. My two cents is: if you hate it, get your 4-series Gran Coupe in a darker color. It minimizes the grille’s visual impact.
The base price of the i4 M50 is $66,895 while the M440i stickers for $59,195. As always with German cars, adding options and option packages can swell the price of your car significantly.
The BMW 4-series Gran Coupe is a sporty car that can be configured as either a (mostly) ICE or totally BEV car. Which one you select is up to you, of course, but having driven both, I can say there’s no wrong choice. Vive le difference.
Note for readers: A trauma surgeon friend (with a lot of knowledge about car safety) and I have launched an automotive podcast that may interest you. It’s called, “Cars on Call”, and it features discussions about a myriad of automotive subjects from two car guy physicians’ perspective. It’s available on Apple, Spotify, and other platforms. Give it a listen!