BMW M440i convertible — Open-air thrills photo

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(July 4, 2021) We drove the 2021 BMW M440i coupe earlier this year and loved it. So we were delighted to get the convertible version in the same week we were taking a beach trip. What a glorious time and place for top-down driving — along the beach with 70 degree temperatures and wind in the hair.


The car's main attraction, and the feature that most clearly separates it from M440i coupe, is its folding cloth roof. The cloth roof is a new addition replacing the previous convertible's hardtop. The redesigned assembly is about 40 percent lighter than before, which helps lower the center of gravity while providing a tiny bit more headroom inside.

Transitioning the M440i from enclosed car to open-air cruiser happens in a quick 18 seconds — and you can do at speeds up to 31 mph, which is handy when a passing rain cloud moves overhead. photo

Keeping the M440i's interior quiet, even at highway speeds, the folding soft top features a flush-mounted rear window and multiple layers of insulation. Additionally, the intake system, engine cover and underbody are tweaked to help minimize ruckus. The exterior fabric top is offered in two colors, basic black and Moonlight Black, the latter of which has a metallic shimmer. The black top was a perfect match for our test car's gorgeous San Remo Green Metallic paint job — a $500 option, but worth the price as witnessed by several onlookers at the beach who remarked on the striking color.

Whichever way you go — coupe or convertible — you will have to get used to the controversial large buck-toothed kidney grille up front., which will start showing up on other BMW products. We have grown to like it after driving copies of both the convertible and the hardtop. Big grills are the in thing in the luxury segment, and we think BMW's new rendition of its famous kidney grille is as good as any out there.

The overall design of the 4-series is elegant and should serve BMW well in a two-door segment that includes the Audi A5 and Lexus RC. Devotees of the fastback coupe will be happy to know that the high-performance M4 will be coming later.

In addition to the new grille, you will get an outstanding performance droptop powered by a 382-horsepower inline turbocharged 6-cylinder engine plus a mild hybrid system that can produce 0-to-60 runs in about 4 seconds and can carve up winding mountain roads without breaking a sweat. If you want to save some cash and still have a great looking and driving convertible, opt for the 430i, which brings a 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder making 255 horsepower.

The M440i xDrive coupe we drove a few months ago came with all-wheel drive, but the convertible was outfitted with rear drive.

In addition to the turbocharged 3.0-liter making 382 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm and 396 pound-feet of torque @ 1,800 rpm is a 48-volt electrical system, designating the 4-Series a MHEV (Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle). In addition to aiding in fuel efficiency, the system provides a small 11-horsepower boost under hard acceleration. The MHEV system also takes advantage of BMW’s Brake Energy Regeneration, which uses a starter generator to recoup energy from braking, putting it into the 48-volt battery. That energy can then assist the 12-volt system or be used for other functions.

On the road the M440i convertible was a gem — a joy to drive whether cruising the beach front or hitting the highway with quick and precise steering and with the ability to safely perform on-road gymnastics when traffic becomes an issue. Top down, you will be entertained by the incredible exhaust note that speaks to the performance under hood, but without being intrusive.

This setup in the convertible yields very acceptable gas mileage on premium fuel rated at 23 mpg city, 31 highway and 26 combined.
We found the interior a good place to live with excellent seats that weren't too bolstered for us old wider bodies proving comfortable with easy adjustability. We think we could be content behind the wheel for extended periods. Two adults can crawl into the rear seats, but make it for short trips — it's very cramped.

The 2021 4-series comes with the same standard 8.8-inch and optional 10.3-inch infotainment screens as the 3-series sedan. Both displays run the latest version of BMW's iDrive 7 infotainment software, which pairs an intuitive interface with a console-mounted click-wheel controller for easy use while driving. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and in-dash navigation are standard while a 12.3-inch digital gauge display, onboard Wi-Fi, and a wireless smartphone charging pad are optional extras.
BMW offers a full range of standard and advanced safety features. Standard safety includes automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, and blind-spot monitoring. Optional are such features as adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving mode, and a 360-degree parking camera.

The 4-series convertible starts at $61,385. The M440i starts at $70,060. Our M440i convertible carried a bottom line of $73,120 with a handful of options.

2021 BMW M440i convertible


Base price: $70,060; as driven, $73,120
Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharge inline 6
Horsepower: 382 @ 5,800 rpm
Torque: 369 pound-feet @ 1,800 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: rear wheel
Seating: 2/2
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Length: 188 inches
Curb weight: 4,171 pounds
Turning circle: 37.4 feet
Luggage capacity: 9 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 15.6 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 23 city, 31 highway, 26 combined
0-60: 4.0 seconds (Car and Driver
Also consider: Chevy Corvette convertible, Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet

The Good
• Strong performance
• Well-balanced droptop
• Top down in 18 seconds
• Standout good looks

The Bad
• Big-tooth grille might be a turnoff

The Ugly
• Rear seats for storage only