Gran deft auto

The BMW 440i Gran Coupe is a practical family car in a low-slung aerodynamic package.
The BMW 440i Gran Coupe is a practical family car in a low-slung aerodynamic package.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
The BMW 440i Gran Coupe is a practical family car in a low-slung aerodynamic package.
The BMW 440i Gran Coupe is a practical family car in a low-slung aerodynamic package.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

BMW's 440i Gran Coupe offers more oomph with less carbon

The BMW 435i Gran Coupe did not have a 3.5-litre engine. Its newly arrived successor, the 440i Gran Coupe, does not have a 4-litre engine. Both, in fact, are powered by a 3-litre turbocharged inline-6, but the latter has more power.

There is method to the madness which seems to steer the department in charge of model nomenclature, though. With modern technology, it is no longer necessary to increase cylinder size to increase power output. So, the old naming convention no longer applies.

But you know what they say about old habits. In naming the 440i, BMW is alluding to the car's output of 326bhp and 450Nm, which would previously have been possible only with a 4-litre engine.

Still, one wonders how long this will go on before it becomes senseless.

The 440i's engine is fundamentally different from the 435i's engine. It belongs to BMW's new B-series of power plants. Displacing 19cc more than the previous N-series engine found in the 435i, it is configured to meet ever-rising standards for efficiency.

  • SPECS / BMW 440I GRAN COUPE

  • Price: $295,800 with COE

    Engine: 2,998cc 24-valve inline-6 turbocharged

    Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual select

    Power: 326bhp at 5,500rpm

    Torque: 450Nm at 1,380-5,000rpm

    0-100kmh: 5.1 seconds

    Top speed: 250kmh

    Fuel consumption: 6.8 litres/100km

    Agent: Performance Motors

It puts out 326bhp at 5,500rpm, and 450Nm of torque between 1,380 and 5,000rpm. This compares with 306bhp at 5,800rpm, and 400Nm between 1,200 and 5,000rpm from the 435i.

The car's eight-speed autobox is also different, with shorter ratios in the first two cogs, and slightly taller ratios on the others. So, you get punchier take-offs and more relaxed cruising .

Evidence of the new drivetrain's affinity for efficiency lies in the performance figures. The car shaves merely 0.1 of a second off its century sprint timing (to 5.1 seconds), with no change to its top velocity of 250kmh.

But fuel economy improves by 9.3 per cent to 6.8 litres/100km. This is achieved by giving the driving access to 6.5 per cent more peak power with 5.2 per cent fewer engine revolutions.

But in a place like Singapore, where low-end torque is often appreciated more, the 440i does not offer a lot more than its predecessor.

You get 12.5 per cent more shove, but the peak is reached at 1,380rpm - 15 per cent higher than previously.

At the wheel, this apparent dichotomy between power and torque pans out as you would expect. The car does not feel sprightlier than the 435i when you are shuttling between work and home.

But when you are in the mood for play, the "four-door coupe" acquits itself exceedingly well. The car is swift and stealthy in the way it piles on serious speed.

Overtaking is blindingly quick, with acceleration that gushes relentlessly. The increased output brings to sharper focus the size of the car though. At times, you cannot help but wish it was a more compact car, so you can have more poise to go with the power.

The 440i is without a doubt competent around curves and such. It just feels it is more at home on wider, straighter roads.

But you do get a practical family car in a low-slung aerodynamic package in the Gran Coupe. The 440i comes with M Sport package, which makes the car look even sportier than the one tested here.

Things like large air intakes, diffuser inserts and larger wheels certainly go well with the car's bigger title and output.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2016, with the headline 'Gran deft auto'. Print Edition | Subscribe