I drove the new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé on my recent trip to Germany, where I went to experience the electric iX. Once the electric road trip was over, we had the opportunity to check out the various BMW museums including Welt, Klassic and a plant tour (no photos allowed), and drive the M440i and M240i.

The drive was around Munich with preprogrammed routes on the vehicle’s GPS systems, it was a matter of hopping into a car and driving off. I’d say I got to spend just under an hour driving the M440i, including a stretch in the Autobahn; a bucketlist item for sure!

This is the second-gen Gran Coupé, but it already accounts for 50% of the volume since 2013, with the main markets being USA, Europe and China. So, an important model for BMW, who says it is a combination of sportiness, elegance, comfort and practicability.

Here’s a quick look at the car, which will be launched to the media in South Africa at the end of November, early December at the coast.

The Exterior

It’s big and bold, with defining lines and horizontal lines up front. Those kidney grills are quite the conversation starter and if I’m honest, I don’t mind them; I know it’s polarising as we’ve seen online. It’s an evolution of design and time will tell if it stands. You have to be bold to stand out, right?

Some of the exterior highlights include a slim, full LED headlights (you can pay more for the adaptable LED Laserlight), the above mentioned kidney grille with a vertical low-reaching design, doors with frameless windows and flush handles. If you’re doing speeds above 60km/h, the Laserlight increases its high-beam range to more than 500m.

The Interior

Inside has a standard leather steering wheel and sport seats, a new driver-focused digital display, a high centre console and ergonomically placed buttons. It has a mix of digital and physical buttons that is familiar to the driver (and perhaps not as modern to some).

The car seats five comfortably, with increased headroom in the front and more legroom for passengers. There’s plenty of storage areas and cup holders; the small things that make it comfortable for your journey.

The Engine

The 3.0L M440i xDrive Gran Coupé has a total output of 275kW and 500Nm of torque, and is supplemented by an electric 48V mild hybrid starter-generator mated to an 8-speed Steptronic auto transmission. It is capable of going from 0-100km/h in 4.7 seconds. The claimed fuel consumption is 8L/100km. The 48V electric boost adds 8kW instantly, for taking off or when you need a quick burst of speed. The power comes from brake energy regeneration (like an EV).

The Tech

It has a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system that runs on BMW Operating System 7 (the iX runs on 8). BMW’s Live Cockpit Plus comes standard (Live Cockpit Professional is optional) with an audio system and 6 speakers (100w) and if you choose the optional hi-fi, that goes up to 205w. For the audiophiles, you can choose Harmon Kardon for 16 speakers at 464w. You can expect familiar things like BMW Controller, steering wheel buttons, voice and gesture controls, and BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant.

Cloud-based navigation on BMW Maps is standard, including supporting real time traffic info (that we kept hearing in German), OTA updates (seems to be the direction BMW is taking with all vehicle so it can roll out new features remotely), plus it has two USB ports and Bluetooth. It has standard CarPlay and Android Auto support, but wireless charging is optional. It supports BMW Digital Key on select iPhones; and Alexa integration through the My BMW app. The Head Up display is optional but it supports CarPlay and Android Auto integration, which is nifty.

The car itself has around 40 driver assistance technologies if you want the car to drive for you. Interesting or rather useful ones include the car parking and manoeuvring for you, which helps avoid collisions with obstacles. With Parking Assist Plus, the cameras around the car can make videos of 40 seconds if you’re driving through beautiful scenery, and in the event of a collision, it records up to 20 seconds of video before and after the impact.

As much as I would have loved to pair my phone to the car and test more stuff out, time was very limited and being in an unfamiliar territory made it the least of our concerns.

The Drive

The car is as familiar as a BMW gets on the inside. You know where everything is, it’s easy to adjust for your height and access what you need to without fumbling. We drove a left-hand drive version so it was a bit of adjusting to the other side and being more alert at all times. I found the drive enjoyable, the gear changes were seamless, which made it all the more comfortable going on the Autobahn.

Driving the M440i on the Autobahn!

It was my first time driving on the Autobahn – and doing it in the M440i felt like a cherry on top. Took it up to 206km/h, which feels so illegal but was not. I am still wrapping my head around that. I could have driven this car for longer if I had the chance. It has the power you ‘need’ it to have and then some. And that’s what matters to me. BMW navigation was super handy as we relied it on completely, being in unfamiliar territory and making sure we’re turning where we’re supposed to.

The Price

The M440i Gran Coupé pricing starts at R903 852 for the standard line; the M Sport package costs R943 852, and the M line is R1 312 696. This excludes other extras.