Coming straight from driving the more subdued 420d, the M440i was like downing a double espresso followed by several star jumps. With development influence from BMW’s special racing division’s, the M440i’s 3.0-litre straight-six six-cylinder turbo petrol engine is the most powerful in the range, putting out 380PS (279kW) and 500Nm (370lb ft) of torque through an eight-speed ‘Steptronic’ automatic transmission.
Weight-optimised pistons and con rods, a twin-scroll turbocharger with indirect charge air cooling, and a water-cooled exhaust manifold integrated into the cylinder head are just a few up the uprated internals, which allow the car to sprint from 0-62mph in only 4.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 155mph. The engine is free-revving, and so smooth as it picks up pace, the slick gearbox like a knife through butter. On occasion it seemed to hold on to gears for a fraction longer than I would have liked, but the subtle flappy paddles were well-placed to overcome that. Thanks to the introduction of mild hybrid technology BMW claims an average fuel consumption of between 39.8 and 41.5mpg – a figure which you’re certainly unlikely to see with a bit of spirited driving.
BMW’s all-wheel-drive system features as standard on the six-cylinder variants, as do a host of M-derived goodies, including the electronically controlled M Sport differential, which constantly adjusts the distribution of power between the wheels, to improve handling in and acceleration out of bends. A 21mm lower centre of gravity, widened tracks and a stiffened body are conducive to hard driving, and combined with the M Sport suspension with electronically controlled adaptive dampers, make for minimal body roll, with the G22 coupe holding its position on the road well. The steering is responsive and precise, thanks to the speed-sensitive power assistance and variable sport steering, which operates via a ratio that adjusts with changes to the steering angle.
Upon pressing the start button, the exhaust lets out a pleasant, if slightly exaggerated, growl, and the pedals firm up. Four modes of Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Adaptive feature, (with standard, plus and individual settings in each) lending the car a different character in each. As you would imagine, Sport was our default, lending an urgent feel and a sharp response. It may be balanced and composed, but the M440i is most certainly not afraid of a flat-out sprint. Comfort, meanwhile, does what it says on the tin – things soften up, and while it can still run for the finish line, it feels like your average Sunday park runner compared to Usain Bolt. Adaptive is perhaps the most sensible all-round option, with the steering, suspension damping, accelerator and transmission intuitively adjusting to suit the driving style. M-Sport brakes stop it sharp and straight, with that aforementioned diff also kicking in to improve stability when changing lanes under braking.