First Drive: 2021 BMW 4 Series Doubles As Sporty Coupe and Highway Cruiser

This sport coupe is equally engaging on the road and at the track

2021 BMW 4 Series coupe front driving view

It isn’t often that we use the word “versatile” to describe a sporty coupe, but that’s exactly how we feel about the new 2021 BMW 4 Series. Its two doors, optional summer tires, and twin-turbo six-cylinder engine suggest that the M440i is a sports car designed for screaming around the track. But we find that it’s equally at home eating up highway miles on a long interstate cruise—traditionally the domain of a more sedate grand tourer. The M440i successfully bridges the gap between stiff-riding two-doors meant for track days, and overdone exotics with six-figure price tags.

Based on the latest 3 Series sedan that debuted last year, the new 4 Series loses two doors, adds an aggressive and lower-slung exterior that’s fronted by a polarizing new grille, and tweaks the suspension and steering for sportier handling. It loses some of the sedan’s practicality, but it makes up for it with stronger performance. Soft-top convertible and four-door hatchback variants are coming soon, as is an ultra-high-performance M4.

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We rented an M440i xDrive—a version of the 4 Series with the more powerful, optional six-cylinder engine, all-wheel drive, and plenty of extras—from BMW for a little over a week. During that time, our testers drove it as often as we could. We hustled around twisty rural roads and with no destination in mind. We folded down the rear seats and took it to the building supply store to get a shower door frame. One of our testers embarked on a 250-mile same-day round trip to drop a birthday gift off on the doorstep of a quarantining family member. We enjoyed multiple outings on our test track.

Find out below what made us want to spend so much time with this vehicle. If you’re a Consumer Reports member, our full initial assessment of this new BMW is available to you here—as are the results of our detailed, instrumented tests of the 3 Series sedan that the new 4 is based on.

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What we rented: 2021 BMW M440i xDrive
Powertrain: 382-hp, 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine; 8-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive.
MSRP: $58,500
Options: Arctic Race Blue Metallic paint ($550); Cognac Vernasca leather ($1,450); Drivers Assistance Pro Package including Extended Traffic Jam Assistant and Active Driving Assistant Pro ($1,700); Executive Package, including heated steering wheel, heated front seats, ambient lighting, adaptive LED headlights, head-up display, Live Cockpit Pro, and Gesture Control ($3,700); Cooling and HP Tire Package, including 19-inch wheels and M Technology Package ($1,500); Adaptive M Suspension ($700); Wireless Charging ($500); and Harman Kardon surround sound ($875)
Total options: $10,975
Destination fee: $995
Total cost: $70,470

CR's Take

Every time our testers spent time behind the wheel of the M440i, they came back with the same impression: This is an absolutely fantastic car. Whether it’s at the track, on a road trip, or taking the long way home from the grocery store, BMW has built a car that rewards drivers the instant they turn on the ignition, and it continues to amaze as they plumb the depths of its capabilities. In fact, if we were in the market for a luxurious performance car, we’d skip the six-figure coupes and exotics and head straight for the M440i xDrive.

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