2022 BMW M440i

INDIANAPOLIS — We all make questionable fashion choices.  For me, it’s an old sweater from high school and a certain pair of shoes even my family can’t stand.  For the 2022 BMW M440i, it might be its giant schnoz that looks menacing, but also suggests it may be sucking a sour tart.  Hopefully a little time will make all of these flourishes seem fashion forward and not faux paus.  Besides, it’s easy to forgive a little fashion foray when the rest of your action is on-point.

BMW’s 3- and 4-Series cars encompass three body styles:  A proper sedan, two-door coupe, and the five-door “Gran Coupe.”  I used to wonder what’s the point of a five-door coupe.  Isn’t that what we used to call a hatchback?  While rear seat headroom is compromised with the fastback roofline, it does offer four real doors and plenty of room for luggage beneath the powered hatch.  It does have a certain panache and practicality.

That last one came in handy when my family decided to get away from the cold and spend a few days inside Abe Martin Lodge at Brown County State Park near Nashville, Ind.  My daughter enjoyed the indoor water park with slide and lazy river while I enjoyed the drive getting there…after we spent a few moments pondering the car’s styling.

The tall double kidney grille is flanked by quad headlamps over an angry lower facia.  Viewing from the side, you see what my co-worker appreciated.  A suggestively sculpted hood and broad shoulders underline the Gran Coupe’s fastback roofline and a take on the windowline’s classic Hofmeister kink.  Red brake calipers behind 19” alloy wheels and thin rear spoiler add a sense of dignified pace.

It was seven degrees when we headed out.  I don’t know how anybody gets by without heated seats, a heated steering wheel, and tri-zone automatic climate control.  Though, it seems BMW could add power seats.  Elegance was revived by open pore oak wood trim, thick leather-wrapped M steering wheel, and stitched dash coverings.  

I used to despise BMW’s iDrive infotainment system with its console joywheel and confusing menus, but the latest version is tolerable.  Menus are more intuitive and the system can be controlled via dash touchscreen – made easier with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.  I just connected my phone, cranked up the billowing Harman Kardon audio system, and tried to ignore my daughter tap-tapping away in the back.  

Finding open road, I stepped firmly into the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine and surged forward on 382 horsepower and 368 lb.-ft. of torque.  BMW claims it runs 0-60 mph in just 4.4 seconds on its way to a 130 mph top speed.  I have no doubt.  It’s fast.  Even with auto stop-start and a 48v mild hybrid system, fuel economy is rated just 22/29-MPG city/highway.

Snow fell on the way to the inn, but there was no need to worry since BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system made the most of the all-season tires.  Even when I hit a slick spot exiting the Interstate, the stability control system grabbed it as xDrive shifted torque between wheels.  The drive gave me a chance to press through the different drive modes that configure the steering heft and throttle response for Eco, Comfort, or Sport.

It’s OK to make questionable fashion choices…if you also bring the goods.  And, the BMW M440i Gran Coupe does.  It’s fast, comfortable, and elegantly crafted.  And, it’s not the first time BMW fitted tall kidneys to a car.  It did so way back in the 1930s.  It’s plenty stylish, but not cheap.  Base models start at $45,200, but came to a lofty $67,520 as tested.  Competitors include the Audi A5 Sportback, Genesis G70, and Mercedes-Benz CLA.

— Casey Williams (MyCarData)