Updated: Mar 31, 2022
The older I get, the broader my perspective, the more I see connections between what is and what was. I am under no illusions that my perceptions are shared by---anyone else, really. So I'll just ask:
Is the 2021 BMW M440i xDrive today's 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ?
Before BMW's press fleet manager back east calls San Francisco to cancel all my upcoming loans of their product, let me explain. In its time, the 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ was a standout high-performance personal sport-luxury coupe. Its proportions were long hood/short deck, it had two doors, a controversial (at first) twin-nostril grille and a hot engine (a 370-horsepower 428 cubic-inch V8 standard or the optional 390-horsepower 428 H.O.). I'm sure a 52-year-old Pontiac was not BMW's benchmark. But tell me how the broad strokes of that car's description don't fit the 2021 BMW M440i xDrive.
The 3.0-liter TwinPower turbo V6 cranks out 380 horsepower (which is net horsepower as opposed to the gross horsepower figures Pontiac and the rest of autodom used in the 60s), but a half-century worth of technology advances changes the rest of the story for the better.
The BMW engine is a 48V mild hybrid. The electric motor adds 11 horsepower to the equation before the turbos fully spool up. This results in 0-60 times of 3.8 seconds. The quarter-mile flashes by in 12.3 seconds at 112 miles per hour, according to Car and Driver.
xDrive in BMW-speak is all-wheel drive, which also contributes to the seriously strong performance---all that power is getting to the ground through all four wheels. And while the hybrid in the M440i is used for extra oomph, the EPA fuel economy averages are pretty solid too---22 miles per gallon city, 31 highway.
Inside, it's a cozy cockpit. The rear seats are best left to kids or unoccupied. And the emphasis is on luxury. The engine and the suspension, both marvelous, handle the "sport" part of the equation. And the exhaust makes a lovely snarl when you (and you will) bury the throttle.
The base price of the 2021 BMW M440i xDrive is $58,500. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard features at that price are M Sport Brakes with blue calipers, variable sport steering, an alarm system, automatic climate control and park distance control.
Regular readers will be able to recite this next part by heart: Our test vehicle came with some extra-cost options. European cars tend to have the biggest difference between base price and as-tested price because of what they charge extra for---including items that are standard on mid-$20,000 cars from Asia. BMW and Porsche have elevated this to an art form. For this car, it's an extra $12,285. $1,950 for the Dravit Gray Metallic paint. $1,450 for the Oyster Vernasca leather interior. $1,700 for the Drivers Assistance Pro Package (with Extended Traffic Jam Assistant and Active Driving Assistant Pro). $3,700 for the Executive Package (heated steering wheel, heated front seats, ambient lighting, Icon adaptive LED with LaserLight, head-up display, Live Cockpit Pro (including navigation) and gesture control).
There was also $1,500 for the Cooling and HP Tire Package (which includes 19-inch wheels). The adaptive M suspension adds $700, wireless charging is another $500, and the very good Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system is $875.
With $995 destination charge, the as-tested price of the 2021 BMW M440i xDrive is $71,870.
You'll get no complaints about the price tag here. I thought the $67,220 as-tested price of the BMW 430i Convertible I reviewed in August was fair and the power boost in the 2021 M440i xDrive alone certainly justifies an extra $4,650.
In the same way the '69 Grand Prix SJ was in its day, the M440i xDrive is a personal sports luxury coupe you buy as transportation, entertainment and as a statement. And that's a powerful combination.