BMW showcases its “Ultimate Driving Machine” mantra with the all-new 2021 M400i second generation performance convertible which is basically unchanged for 2022, with both models possessing all the driving thrills, luxury features and good looks the German automaker is celebrated for.
Aided by a 48-volt battery for a mild hybrid effect, the 3.5-liter turbo six-cylinder engine yields car-class leading, gas-sipping mileage of 23 miles per gallon in the city using premium fuel, despite its power dash with rear wheel drive to 60 mph in just over four seconds.
It’s a thrill to drop the car’s soft-top in 18 seconds (it’s been more than a decade since BMW produced a soft-top) and enjoy the crisp fall air and the envious looks of fellow motorists. The M440i has a typical BMW profile, except for an enlarged dual kidney-grille designed to help cool the engine and the hidden LED lights in the pockets beside the grille. (Note: The license plate placement mars the look.)
The top trim drive M440i convertible we tested included eight options totaling $9,675 – upgrades that many elite, luxury vehicles require to fulfill a vehicle’s performance, comfort, convenience and technical potential. (The 2022 base version adds $1,195 in price).
Our options improved dynamic handling, parking assistance with 50 feet of backup memory, cabin comfort, our Midnight Black soft-top, a neck warmer, wireless charger and Harman Kardon surround sound. Driver safety aids are cutting edge and lane-keeping assist is aggressive.
Outside, the exterior wore Dravit Gray paint and inside, Tacora Red Vernasca leather on seats and side door panels show-cased a tastefully styled cabin oozing style, top quality materials and flawless fit and finish with a graphically clear 8.8-inch infotainment rich touchscreen plus an active 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. The 2022 model includes standard ambient interior lighting.
Any BMW’s main appeal is behind the wheel. Wearing 19-inch Michelin summer tires – backed by a mobility kit – no spare tire – there was just the right amount of road feedback in any of the drive modes – Sport, Comfort, Eco Pro or Adaptive – complemented with exceptional handling. Using the Sprint function in Sport mode suspension adjustments made for better control.
Pluses include an easy-to-read Heads-Up Display while wearing sunglasses; excellent voice recognition; a robotic arm that makes seat belt buckling easier; automatic locking or unlocking with the key fob untouched, and when underway a red flashing speed limit icon when exceeding the posted speed limit.
Imperfections included crunched rear seating space, although cargo area is class leading.
At a Glance
LIKES: Power, looks, luxury, handling, ride, drive modes, mileage, quiet
DISLIKES: Mobility kit, occasional clunky stop/start, tight rear seating
BOTTOM LINE: Mobility kit, occasional clunky stop/start, tight rear seating
Fact File: BMW M440I
3.0-liter, turbo inline-6
382 hp at 6,500 rpm
369 ft.-lbs. at 1,800 rpm
8-speed automatic/manual paddles
15.6-gallon tank, premium fuel
23 mpg city/31 mpg hwy
0-60 in 4.2 seconds
If you are shopping for a new or pre-owned car, let AAA’s Auto Buying Service do the work for you. We can find any vehicle make and model, and we’ll pass the manufacturer’s savings on to you. Buying has never been easier. Reach out to our experienced sales team at 1-866-710-6226 or get a quote today, and we will help you get started with your search.
Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics, and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested worldwide market.