There’s a new 4 Series Cabriolet out and yes, this one gets the large kidney grilles that everyone can’t seem to stop talking about. Ignore it. And if you really don’t like it, I’m sure the aftermarket will be happy to help.
What you shouldn’t ignore, however, is the new roof. After 2 generations the fabric top has returned and it’s one of the best changes to grace the all-new 4 Series Cabriolet.
The outgoing steel top might have provided a better year-round cocoon from the elements but it was complicated, heavy, and made ominous sounds in action.
While the new top isn’t Miata simple, it’s faster and quieter in operation than before and looks far better when it’s in place.
It’s also 40 per cent lighter and takes up less space in the trunk.
I also completely forgot I was driving a convertible after just a few minutes in it with the top up. Wind and road noise is so effectively quelled, the only clues that you’re not in a fixed roof vehicle are the lack of a sunroof and a smaller rear window.
In every other way this is a 4 Series, in this case, an M440i which means it’s a low-slung, posh, and tech-forward coupe with a 382 hp turbocharged inline-6 driving the rear wheels exclusively, a configuration not possible with any other 3 or 4 Series currently for sale.
If you’ve been in any modern BMW recently, then you’ll be instantly familiar with the cabin layout. BMW’s approach is to have one cabin template copied and pasted in different sizes to fit in each of their vehicles. If you’re looking for something a bit more bespoke you won’t find it here, but you won’t find any loose threads either.
All the tech works as it should, fit and finish is exemplary, and you’d be hard-pressed to notice even the slightest creak or crinkle in its finely crafted interior. This is mass-produced luxury at its best.
Pricing is lofty, starting at $72,750, but still competitive with the cabs from Mercedes and Audi.
Even before you ladle on options, the M440i Cabriolet doesn’t exactly need for much. For instrumentation you get a configurable 12.3-inch high res screen, the infotainment system is logically laid out and zippy quick, the sport seats are comfortable and supportive, the roof collapses into the trunk at the push of a button and an included wind deflector can be installed over the rear seats to reduce wind buffeting at speed.
It all feels luxurious and very upscale and some of the options further elevate the experience like headrests that can blow hot air on your neck, a leather-covered dashboard, a full-featured head-up display, laser headlights, a drive recorder, and more.
An upgraded driving assistant works with the dynamic cruise control to keep you centred in your lane even in a situation where it narrows. It can evade other motorists if it detects a side collision is imminent, or stop itself if you fail to in time. With traffic sign recognition it can warn you if your driving the wrong way or slow you down to the correct speed limit if you have it set to do so.
The safety, tech, and, comfort all get top marks. For a laid-back cruiser this new M440i absolutely excels but as a sharp sports coupe, which it historically was, it’s a bit of letdown.
One of the few options not ticked on my tester was the adaptive dampers and I’m not sure if it would have made a difference but the standard non-adaptive M suspension felt, frankly, a bit wobbly when asked to hustle. You could certainly feel the weight and the size of the car, something that tended to shrink away on some of the past models. It all felt more Mercedes than BMW and that kind of takes some of their competitive edge away.
The steering is still precise and nicely weighted, and the inline-6 powerplant is still silken with effortless power delivery, enhanced by the 48 V mild hybrid system. And regardless of what you think of the grille, the M440i is a stunning automobile, and there’s a lot going for it as long as you treat it as a luxury cruiser.
There’s still fun to be had. After all, this is still a rear-wheel drive coupe with a ton of torque channeled directly to the rear wheels. With a standard M-sport differential shenanigans are an easy possibility but I didn’t bother with any of that tomfoolery because I was too busy enjoying the 4 series as an effortless top-down cruiser that has refinement and class for days.
This is also one of the more practical and usable drop tops out there with more rear-seat room than the much larger 8 Series and enough trunk space for a weekend golfing getaway. Fuel economy is also very reasonable especially on the highway where I was averaging around 9L/100 km.
The little M-badge on the decklid seems a bit out of place and doesn’t seem to fit the overall demeanour of the car but like the grille, you can just ignore it.