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Review: Big BMW M440i Grille-zilla still has the moves

Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

The sculpted dash is dominated by colorful digital instrument and infotainment screens — the latter operated by (take your pick) touch or remote rotary iDrive. Notably, BMW seems to have punted on voice recognition.

"Go to Hell, Michigan," I commanded.

"Please don't speak to me like that," shot back a female voice.

Um. I'm sorry? Stymied, I connected my Android phone, with which I have a better relationship. "Go to Hell, Michigan" was not only immediately recognized by Android Auto (Apple Carplay also comes standard) in the console screen, but it was done wirelessly. What's more, directions then appeared on the instrument and head-up displays.

That's a first. Every other smartphone app-capable vehicle I've driven segregates smartphone apps to the console screen. In M440i, it's integrated into all three displays — heads-up, instrument and console — making for a state-of-the-art, visual and voice experience to Hell and back.

The head-up display had other talents. Like scrolling my favorite radio stations via (yet another) button on the steering wheel. The more features in heads-up displays, the better to keep your eye on the road.

 

Most passersby kept their eyes on that big, fat kidney grille. To my surprise, most approved. I like its retro vibe recalling the sleek 1940 BMW 327 Aero or '65 2000CS.

Shocking as they appear in photos, the kidneys in the flesh are nicely integrated with the nose. Striking blue laser headlights bracket the grille. A lower spoiler and vents frame it like a goatee. Many passersby compared it favorably to the Alfa Romeo's similar full-faced, tri-logo grille.

Which is appropriate since the Alfa is the rare performance car that can dance with the M440i. The compact Bimmer isn't so compact anymore, but it's still got the moves.

2021 BMW 4-series

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