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The 2021 BMW M440i xDrive Is a Sports Car Letdown

There is no denying that the new BMW M440i xDrive has a face only a mother could love. Aesthetics aside, BMW‘s newest sporty coupe sounds great on paper. A powerful engine, all-wheel drive, and a quick-shifting transmission should come together to form a great sports car. Despite this, a recent review of the M440i xDrive by Car and Driver reveals that it’s actually a bit of a letdown.

The BMW M440i xDrive’s stats should make it a good performer

Horsepower figures and 0-60 mph times exist largely to sell cars rather than indicate a good product. In the case of the BMW M440i, however, these stats are its greatest strength. According to BMW, the M440i takes just 4.5 seconds to reach 60 mph and will continue to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

An image of the BMW 440i xDrive on the road.
BMW 440i xDrive | BMW

Powering the BMW M440i is a turbocharged inline-six-cylinder engine developing 374 hp. Unlike previous generations of the 4-series, the M440i does not offer the option of a manual transmission. The only transmission available is an eight-speed automatic.

As the xDrive portion of the name suggests, the M440i transfers its power to the road via an all-wheel-drive system. While AWD is common in more expensive BMW models, this is the first time the M440i has been offered exclusively with it. The extra traction allows the 4 Series to reach 60 mph in at such a quick pace. Although BMW intends to sell a rear-wheel-drive version, it hasn’t arrived just yet.

Poor weight distribution means poor driving dynamics

While the BMW M440i xDrive’s all-wheel-drive system allows it to accelerate aggressively, it also adds weight. As it stands, the range-topping 4 Series tips the scales at just shy of 4,000 pounds, making it quite hefty.

An image of the BMW 440i xDrive on the road.
BMW 440i xDrive | BMW

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During their testing of the BMW M440i, Car and Driver noted that the weight was a significant issue. Aside from being heavy, the weight distribution is skewed toward the front. According to Car and Driver, 53.8 percent of the 4 Series’ mass sits on top of the front wheels.

While poor weight distribution does not directly impact straight-line speed, it directly impacts the overall driving dynamics. Car and Driver claim the M440i suffers from plenty of understeer, whereas the equivalent 3 Series sedan does not. The result is that despite having tons of power and a clever all-wheel-drive system, the M440i can’t stick to the road like you’d expect a sports car to. The result is that the 2021 M440i isn’t as composed or capable as previous generations.

Will the 2021 BMW M4 suffer from the same issue?

Unlike the BMW M440i xDrive, the new M4 comes standard with rear-wheel drive. The result is that the M4 does not need to house heavy components on its front axle. This weight reduction should help the overall weight balance and improve driving dynamics.

A photo of the BMW M4 at an auto show.
BMW M4 | Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

However, BMW is planning an all-wheel-drive version of the M4 to join the lineup sometime in the future. Although it is a rear-biased AWD system, it could still potentially upset the platform’s overall balance. Given that it is an M model, the M4 will likely receive other tweaks to counter any potential understeer.

Thankfully, there is hope for the BMW M440i given the brand’s intention to produce a rear-wheel-drive model. If that new 4 Series manages to capture some of the lost magic of previous-gen BMW’s it could make for a great sports car.