Tag Archives: BMW

Super coupe packs a real punch

BMW M440i Gran Coupe

By Bill McCarthy

When it comes to producing compact performance coupes, BMW has few peers. Stylish, desirable, pricey and offering, blistering performance together will all-wheel drive technology, there’s a huge amount to like, although this model will set you back north of £53k.

It’s not perfect, no car is, but it comes close. It gives a whole new dimension to the phrase ‘hot hatch.’, with its four-doors, hatchback and brutal pace.

The BMW M440i xDrive Gran Coupé, has a rather grand sounding name and no, doesn’t refer to shoehorning your gran into the car.

There are small things I am not keen on, like the flush door handles that can be fiddly in the rain and  I am unsure about the larger kidney grille. Actually though, I think I like it.

But it is a striking looking motor, with predatory stance, sweeping profile with short overhangs, cat’s eye type light cluster and that black honeycomb grille flanked just below by huge air scoops finished, like the grille, in high-gloss black.

An M-specific spoiler on the boot lid rounds off the distinctive appearance, as does the performance brake callipers painted in blue and the striking alloys.

BMW describes the interior as a driver-centric cockpit, the dash layout is familiar with the central touchscreen, while a sport leather steering wheel also controls various functions.

The classy leather interior is finished with neat blue stitching, while soft touch finish abound throughout the car offset with contrasting metal inserts.

There are five seats with three full sized to the rear which, despite the compact look of the car, offer decent legroom and reasonable headroom.

Controls are logical and intuitive with the familiar iDrive operating system linked with a central screen and 12.3-inch high-resolution instrument cluster behind the steering wheel.

The central screen controls, infotainment, navigation and connectivity for smartphones, with built-in SIM card with 4G LTE connectivity and BMW’s  Connected Package Professional enabling remote digital information services.

It is pretty practical, being a hatchback, with 470 litres of boot space up 39 litres on the previous model, which can be expanded to a maximum of 1,290 litres while the hatchback features an automatic opening and closing mechanism.

There are various petrol and diesel models available, but the M version is all about performance and it doesn’t disappoint.

Powered by a three-litre, six cylinder turbo-charged engine it delivers blistering pace, hitting 60 mph in under five seconds, while the eight-speed automatic transmission slips seamlessly through the gears.

A mild hybrid system boosts electrics and adds to the engine power when required.

It is a thrilling experience to give it the full beans and all the while the adaptive M suspension works in the background together with the four wheel-drive to deliver maximum stability and a satisfying driving experience.

The driver can also select various drove modes from COMFORT, ideal for motorway cruising through to the most driver-orientated SPORT mode.

 Here you get the full roar and the spitting and crackling from the exhaust as everything sharpens up and you can give the car its head on the open road as it powers through bendy, twisting roads with ease. All within the law of course.

As you would expect, this model features a comprehensive list of safety kit, with full complement of airbags, traction, steering aids as well as cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, lane-departure warning, automatic emergency braking and speed limit information.


BMW M440i xDrive Gran Coupe

 Price: £53,980

Mechanical: 374PS, 2199cc, six-cylinder, petrol engine driving all wheels via 8-speed automatic transmission

Max Speed: 155mph

0-62mph: 4.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 35.3

Insurance Group: 40

C02 emissions: 184g/km

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

BMW Coupe is a showstopper

Pace, power and panache . . . and a controversial style

BMW M440i 

By Bill McCarthy

THERE is no doubt that BMW builds some striking looking cars, with this head-turning coupe arguably the sleekest and most stylish of the lot.

Recently revised, it combines the brutal power of the straight six petrol engine with mild hybrid technology, plus specially tailored design features.

It’s a showstopper, shod with 20-inch black alloys, encasing huge red brake callipers and sporting a feline-like silhouette, it never failed to attract attention whether parked on the drive or out on the road.

The stiffer chassis builds on technology from the latest 3 series and it also features a high quality interior with a raft of driver assistance technologies, cutting edge infotainment and a comprehensive package of safety features.

Longer and wider than the car it replaces, it has narrower A pillars, frameless windows and huge doors, with extreme care needed when opening in relatively confined spaces.

What does mark it out from other BMWs however is the reworked grille. The firm describes it as a ‘vertical kidney grille’ and says harks back to a previous generation of cars. It is much, much deeper, is split by the number plate, and barely resembles the iconic kidney shape and seems much more in tune with the deep grille seen on Audis.

‘The interior is a masterclass, with high quality materials and subtle ambient lighting’

Flanked by slim LED light clusters and deep airscoops, it is a controversial move for BMW purists, a couple of whom registered their disapproval with me. Less so with non-BMW owners, who admired the look.

 The rear end styling is also striking and incorporates slim, darkened full-LED rear lights, dual exhausts and a subtle M Sport spoiler.

Power comes from the three litre turbo-charged six-cylinder engine, which is now mated with a 48-volt mild hybrid system which adds a further 11bhp of on-demand power. 

Here recuperated energy can be supplied to supplement the 12V electrical system, like the stop/start, or used for generating additional drive power when fed back to the 48V starter-generator. When the car is accelerating, the generator is also able to offer the driver an electric boost effect.

Not that it particularly needs that 11bhp in acceleration terms, as the car rockets to 60mph in just 4.5 seconds, accompanied by the six-cylinder roar, much amplified by the twin tailpipes.

It generates 374bhp and a huge maximum torque of 500Nm. Brutal performance while still returning average fuel consumption of around 40mpg, truly impressive for such a powerful beast.

It is an engaging driving experience, either in full auto or using the shifter paddles behind the steering wheel to race though the eight-speed box. The six-pot burble is always in the background, even when just depressing the starter button, a reminder of the power under the bonnet.

The interior is a masterclass, a four-seater, although the rear two are cramped in 2+2 style, with limited headroom. It offers high quality materials and subtle ambient lighting.

M Sport models also include specific sport pedals, driver’s footrest and the powered red leather seats match contrasting dark soft touch finish, thick carpets and anthracite headlining.

This model also has multi-function M leather steering wheel and 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster display bearing the M logo and digital radio. Options included enhanced Bluetooth with wireless charging, drive recorder and gesture control.

Central is the 10.3 touchscreen in the middle of the dash, with the central rotary iDrive on the console controlling infotainment, sat nav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, 

In addition the BMW Connected Package Professional adds remote services and real time traffic information. 

On the road, the car is stunningly quick, throwing you back in your seat, but all that power requires the technology to keep it on the road and safe. It delivers this in spades, with the xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system sending power to the wheels as required, while the stiffened body structure and suspension mountings give greater stability. The handling is peerless with the slip differential, adaptive suspension and active chassis keeping the car firmly planted while sweeing through tight bends and the beautifully weighted steering is direct and responsive.

Practicality is good with a large boot which has a capacity of 444 litres which is supplemented by a 40:20:40 split backrest, and a large central oddments bin.

Safety kit is comprehensive, with a full complement of airbags, including steering wheel bag, traction and stability control plus, plus lane change warning, crossing traffic warning, rear-end collision warning and speed limit information.

Te downside is that on BMWs you can spend a small fortune on optional extras that come as standard on some competitors. This model included eight grand’s worth of enhanced, safety, communication and extra comfort features, whacking the total price to nearly £62k. Question is, do you need them?


BMW M440i xDrive Coupe

Price: £52,100

Mechanical: 374bhp, 2,998, six cylinder petrol engine driving all wheels via eight speed Steptronic auto gearbox

Max speed: 155mph

0-62mph: 4.5 seconds

Combined mpg: 39.8-41.5 

Insurance group: 40

CO2 emissions: 155-163g/km

BiK rating: 36%

Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles

BMW’s iconic badge returns

BMW’s iconic badge returns

  • The famed ‘ti’ badge returns to the BMW range. 
  • Designed to deliver exhilarating driving enjoyment. 
  • M Sport specification as standard. 
  • 265hp petrol engine with BMW TwinPower turbo technology. 
  • Torsen limited-slip differential and bespoke M Sport suspension. 
  • Exclusive accents contribute to striking appearance and sporty interior. 
  • November 2020 launch, priced from £32,995 OTR.

The interior of the BMW 128ti features high-class materials, with red accents throughout creating a bold contrast to the black headlining. A large ‘Race Red’ surface adorns the front centre sections of the standard Sensatec/cloth sport seats. A red ‘ti’ is stitched into the centre armrest which – like the door armrests, the door panels, the instrument panel and floor mat edging – also features red contrast stitching. The steering wheel rim and airbag cover of the standard M Sport steering wheel also feature red stitching. Standard equipment also includes the M door sill strips on the front door openings, and M seat belts. Boston backlit trim strips are standard whilst the Berlin trim is available as an alternative.

Perforated Dakota leather and M Sport seats available as options
The M Sport seats are optionally available in perforated Dakota leather – in Black or in Magma Red with grey accents. If the latter is chosen, the contrast stitching and ‘ti’ badge are in grey and the floor mats have stitching in the BMW M colours.

The infotainment features of BMW Operating System 7.0 are accessed via a display screen of up to 10.25 inches with the optional BMW Live Cockpit Professional. Gesture control is also available and a 9.2‑inch BMW Head-Up Display can be specified as options. The load compartment has a capacity of 380 litres, rising to 1,200 litres with the rear seat folded. Electric tailgate operation is also optionally available. Folding Mirrors, Heated Seats and cabin Ambient Lighting are also included as standard.

Bespoke, lowered M Sport suspension
The new BMW 128ti is available exclusively with specially tuned, bespoke M Sport suspension. It has the firmer anti-roll bars and anti-roll bar mounts from the range‑topping BMW M135i xDrive, plus stiffer modified springs and shock absorbers – it’s also10mm lower. This, combined with a model-specific steering setup that has been designed to further minimise torque steer, results is even sharper driving dynamics. A weight saving of around 80kg over the all-wheel-drive BMW M135i xDrive contributes to the sporting performance of the BMW 128ti.

Torsen limited-slip differential for improved traction
The BMW 128ti is equipped with the same Torsen limited-slip differential as the BMW M135i xDrive. As well as increasing traction, agility and stability, the limited-slip differential also gives the car excellent cornering ability.

If the inside wheel loses grip while powering through a bend and the driver accelerates at the same time, the limited-slip differential directs more torque to the wheel with greater grip, thereby preventing wheel slip and enhancing traction and agility.

BMW Performance Control and ARB technology
The mechanical limited-slip differential is assisted by several electronic control systems. One system that has been specially modified for the BMW 128ti is BMW Performance Control, whose ‘sharper’ yaw moment distribution boosts rear axle agility. ARB (near-actuator wheel slip limitation) technology is also utilised, as it is on all models in the BMW 1 Series range. This newly developed traction control system, that made its combustion-engine debut on the 1 Series, features a slip controller positioned directly in the engine control unit rather than in the control unit for the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) system, enabling ARB to work ten times faster. As a result, not only is operation smoother and more sensitive, the system can also make maximum use of the potential traction offered by different road surfaces. The ARB technology works with DSC to significantly reduce the power understeer that can affect front-wheel-drive cars.

Standard M Sport brakes and sport tyres
As in the BMW M135i xDrive, the BMW 128ti is fitted with M Sport brakes, which provide increased fade resistance and exceptional feel. The front callipers bear the M logo and are painted red (a first for a BMW 1 Series model). The front brakes consist of aluminium four‑piston monoblock fixed callipers and 360mm x 30mm inner-vented discs, while floating callipers with inner-vented brake discs measuring 300mm x 20mm are at the rear.

The 18-inch Y-spoke 553 M bi-colour light-alloy wheels exclusively fitted on the BMW 128ti can be specified with sport tyres (Michelin Pilot Sport 4) in 225/40 R18 format as a no-cost option.

The 19-inch double-spoke 552 M light-alloy wheel with 235/35 R19 tyres is also optionally available.

265hp, 2.0-litre engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology
The engine in the BMW 128ti is a direct offshoot of the BMW Group’s most powerful four-cylinder unit. The 2.0-litre engine was modified with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and produces 265hp from 4,750-6,500rpm. Peak torque of 400Nm is available from 1,750-4,500rpm. The BMW 128ti can sprint from 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds and reach a limited top speed of 155mph. Despite this strong performance, the 128ti returns combined fuel consumption of 44.1 – 46.3mpg* and emits only 148-139g/km of CO2*. This enables it to meet the Euro 6d exhaust standard. The standard Active Sound Design (ASD) ensures the driver can enjoy a distinctive engine sound in the cabin without any increase in external noise.

Lightweight M Performance Parts enhance aerodynamics and exterior stylingCustomers can personalise the new BMW 128ti with accessories from the exclusive M Performance Parts range, which has been developed with the expertise of BMW M GmbH .

Various lightweight parts in new carbon-fibre look and High-gloss Black components further enhance the sporting appearance of the BMW 128ti. The M Performance front splitter, the rear diffuser and the roof-edge spoiler with air through-flow and the aero flics in High-gloss Black optimise aerodynamics. These M Performance Parts have been developed specifically for the BMW 1 Series and adapted in the wind tunnel to work together perfectly. The hand-made, high-quality carbon-fibre components that also include M Performance exterior mirror caps are sealed with clear coat and given a high-gloss polished finish. 18-inch forged wheel Y-Spoke 711 M in Ferric Grey and the 19-inch M Performance bi‑colour light-alloy wheel Double-spoke 555 M with polished finish are optionally available.

The M Performance steering wheel, complete with Alcantara covering, large thumb rests, red marking in the 12 o’clock position and silver-grey hand cross-stitching adds to the race car feel of the BMW 128ti interior. For even more sportiness, there is the M Performance Steering wheel cover in carbon fibre/Alcantara or carbon fibre/leather with M Performance lettering, plus M Performance Shift paddles in carbon fibre to operate the eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission.

M8: Electric pace and luxury

BMW is simply dynamite

BMW M8 Competition

By Bill McCarthy

IT may come as some surprise to hear BMW say that its twin new models, the M8 Competition coupe and convertible are its first foray into the luxury performance car market.

Having driven the extremely rapid M850i recently, that left me scratching my head. But when you are talking about power units that deliver supercar performance, small increments make a difference.

Both  models feature a brutally powerful 4.4-litre V8 engine with twin turbos and the now familiar BMW M Steptronic eight-speed transmission, delivering a stonking 635hp and 750Nm of torque. 

This in turn delivers neck-wrenching performance with the car hitting 62mph in just 3.2 and 3.3 seconds respectively. 

For those who care about the incremental performance, the well over half a second to 3.9 seconds difference between that and the M850i may seem to make the latter almost pedestrian by comparison. 

The Competition model also offers a track driving mode, where rear wheel drive can be selected and up to 189 mph can be hit where permitted.

Power is delivered by two turbochargers, cross-bank exhaust manifolds, direct injection with increased pressure, plus cooling and oil supply systems designed for maximum track performance.

All this power need to be transferred to the wheels in an efficient and safe manner and the four wheel with the model specific adaptive suspension and chassis improvements means the big beast is rarely troubled when you turn on the power.

This became apparent with a full day’s drive up and down the twisting roads and passes of the mountains of southern Spain near Malaga. Difficult roads to test the performance and handling of any vehicle were dismissed by this luxury thoroughbred in the most beautiful Andalusian setting.

Choose full auto or switch to the paddles and the car is a delight, clinging limpet like on horseshoe bends with the big slabs of rubber on the 20-inch wheels and blasting away on the rare stretches of straight road. The convertible was driven first and on a sunny day the roof was straight down.

The car does look good, predatory, almost feline in profile in both coupe and convertible guise and features a hexagonal theme with upgraded black kidney grille carbon-fibre and large apron underneath. 

To the rear there is a carbon-fibre spoiler, four exhaust pipes and diffuser for the cabrio. The coupe features a double bubble carbon fibre roof while the convertible offers a fabric top which folds away in 15 seconds at speeds of up to 31mph. When not required it can be folded to half its size and stowed in the boot.

The interior is the last word in luxury, functionality and comfort with powered front seats, featuring with warm air collars in the headrests in the convertible for when it gets chilly. Trim is of the highest quality with Merino leather, anthracite headliner, top quality soft touch finish and a riot of carbon fibre, leather, thick carpets, and the familiar M  branding throughout on seats, sills and doors.

These include red accents on the M leather steering wheel’s M buttons and the start/stop button on the centre console. The newly designed transmission selector lever with Drivelogic switch is leather-surfaced with an embedded M logo and stitching.

The latest  iDrive infotainment system dominates with the so-called Live Cockpit Professional 12.3-inch display which controls, navigation, infotainment and and a raft of connectivity services and apps with at last Android Auto being included from next year in addition to Apple CarPlay.

In addition the BMW Connected Package Professional adds remote services and real time traffic information. There’s also M8-specific dials which can be selected by the driver on the digital display and the couple of drive selector red buttons on the steering wheel.

Driving it is a real experience, floor the throttle and the exhaust acoustics change depending which mode is selected via the M Sound Control button on the centre console. By selecting SPORT PLUS the engine sounds more like a racing car as the roar of the V8 kicks in.

Two variants of this M setup can be stored permanently with the driver’s preferred settings for the engine sound, gearshift characteristics and driving stability control on either of those two red M buttons on the steering wheel. 

On the road the huge amount of torque means power delivery is instantaneous, even allowing for overtaking with comfort on twisting  roads. The 4WD Sport mode  diverts a larger slice of engine power to the rear wheels. Deactivating the Dynamic Stability Control system (DSC) transfers power exclusively to the rear wheels for a more engaging drive.

The handling is peerless with the slip differential, adaptive suspension and active chassis keeping the car firmly planted while the beautifully weighted steering is direct and responsive, especially when you need to instantly avoid a herd of sheep crossing a mountain road.

But it’s not just about the madcap performance. Slowing down through mountain villages, the car settles into a docile mode, but on the other side, feathering the throttle unleashes all the power again.

Is it also a superb motorway cruiser and happy to sit at 70 mph, but here allowed, again a blip of the throttle means that huge torque delivers brilliant overtaking speed.

For safety, the M compound brakes are standard while larger  carbon-ceramic brakes are an option as the car provides a full  complement of safety kit. In addition it features cameras which can record and store the previous 20 seconds on the car’s activity on the hard drive, plus full complement of airbags, stability and traction control and assisted braking.

Rollover protection system is standard on the convertible which also includes a wind deflector, which can be set up in the rear-seat area to prevent unwanted air turbulence when driving with the roof down.

For the record claimed economy is around the 25mpg mark, obviously dependent on how you drive and emissions over the 250 g/km mark ain’t going to save you anything on benefit in kind taxation. But at £123,000-plus for the coupe and £133,000, yes, £133k for the cabrio, it probably does’t matter.

As usual with BMW, even for a car this expensive, options can bump up the price substantially, but that should be no surprise to BMW drivers.

And if the performance is too much there’s always the ‘pedestrian’ M850i.

But this is a true supercar and a delight to drive. BMW have thrown down the gauntlet to its challengers yet again.

BMW M8 Competition Convertible, Brands Hatch Grey