After doing an exhaustive preview of the 2021 G80 M3 Sedan and G82 M4 Coupe that introduced the brand’s polarizing new bucktooth grille design, which BMW quickly followed up by revealing their near…

2020 BMW 440i Coupe and Cabriolet Road Test

2020 BMW 440i Coupe
Some might think the outgoing 4 Series looks old compared to the radically styled new one, but we consider it a modern-day classic.

After doing an exhaustive preview of the 2021 G80 M3 Sedan and G82 M4 Coupe that introduced the brand’s polarizing new bucktooth grille design, which BMW quickly followed up by revealing their near equally maligned regular 4 Series G22, G23 and G26 Coupe, Cabriolet and Gran Coupe five-door liftback, I thought it would be fitting to say so-long to the lovely 2013-2020 F32, F33 and F36 Coupe, Cabriolet and Gran Coupe 4 Series trio that most BMW fans have now grown even fonder of.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a 2020 Gran Coupe available for this review, so instead I’ll point you back to a 2015 BMW 428i xDrive I previously reviewed, and on that note the two cars featured in this road test are actually 2019 models that fell between the cracks, so allow me some creative license as these two were not fundamentally changed from model years 2019 to 2020, and reviewing them now allows the opportunity to point out where aesthetic updates and trim modifications were made.

2020 BMW 440i Cabriolet
The Coupe and this Cabriolet take on different personas, the hard-top being sportier and the drop-top oh-so classy.

This last point is fairly easy, with the only changes made from 2019 to 2020 being colour options, the Coupe losing Glacier Silver and Melbourne Red metallics and thus reducing its exterior colour count to two standard solid shades and three metallic options. The same seven interior motifs are available, and there are no changes with its myriad option packages. The Cabriolet loses its alternative black mirror caps in base trim (at least from the factory) and drops the same two hues as the Coupe, but adds a new metallic called Sunset Orange, while swapping Tanzanite Blue for Tanzanite Blue II. Lastly, the Gran Coupe eliminates Glacier Silver too (it didn’t have Melbourne Red), while adding Aventurine Red II Metallic, plus it trades the same two Tanzanite hues while swapping Frozen Silver for Frozen Dark Grey. And that’s it.

2020 BMW 440i Coupe
Unfortunately, classic Glacier Silver is no longer available.

My two testers were painted in $895 optional Glacier Silver and Estoril Blue metallics, by the way, the latter getting plenty of looks with the top down thanks to beautifully contrasting Ivory White leather clad interior. It’s hard to believe that BMW no longer offers three of its sportiest models in Germany’s official racing livery, but the brand was never part of the silver arrows era anyway, its chosen colour in motorsport always being white with mostly blue accents. It nevertheless looks good in classic silver, especially with the blackened trim and wheels.

2020 BMW 440i Cabriolet
The Cabriolet’s retractable hard-top looks just as nice as the Coupe’s fixed roof, but it does take on a look of its own.

Both testers were near fully loaded, being 440i powered and xDrive controlled. Base 4 Series models come with the 430i powerplant, which denotes BMW’s 2.0-litre turbo-four with 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, resulting in lively performance albeit par for the course in this class, whereas 440i models receive the automaker’s turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-six good for a much more spirited 326 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. The only model available without all-wheel drive is the 440i Coupe, but a quick glance at the back of my tester reveals the BMW’s “xDrive” emblem, which meant mine was not one of these rare rear-drive beasts.

2020 BMW 440i Coupe
Full LED headlamps come standard, and look fabulous.

Much to my chagrin, BMW didn’t include its wonderful six-speed manual in either car, although it is (was) available in the 440i Coupe (only). Was? Yes, this time of year you’ll need to take whatever you can get, meaning snap up a rear- or all-wheel drive 440i Coupe with a manual if you can find one, because there are obviously no more factory orders for this now updated car, and only M4s will offer manuals hereafter.

2020 BMW 440i Cabriolet
The 4 Series’ sporty front fascia still looks sharp after all these years.

Alas, BMW has abandoned both the manual transmission and silver, no less at a time when we should all be considering investing in precious metals. What could be next? I’ll point you to my exhaustive overview of the new M3 and M4 for some of those details, at which point you’ll clearly appreciate that the German brand’s twin-kidney grille remains at large for 2021, or rather larger than life, which, I reiterate, is a good reason any available 2020 models will be hot commodities right about now. Let’s face it, while BMW deserves kudos for bravery, its significant stretch from conservatism hasn’t been universally praised to say the least.

2020 BMW 440i Coupe
These optional alloys look sensational, contrasting nicely with the silver paint.

I, for one, happen to love these two cars’ styling, and might even appreciate the outgoing Gran Coupe more. They’re all elegantly balanced designs with classic BMW cues as well as more visual muscle than any predecessors, plus they combine the most impressively crafted interiors, highest levels of technology, and best overall performance offered in any non-M-branded compact BMW ahead of the new 2021 models.

2020 BMW 440i Cabriolet
The 4 Series’ LED taillights are an attractive design, as are the new 2021 cars’ rear lamps.

The 440i’s cabin is at a level of quality and refinement above most everything in this class. Along with the expected soft-touch synthetic surfaces normally found in this segment, BMW covered the entire dash-top and door uppers of the Cabriolet in rich, high-quality French-stitched leather, while the door panels received gorgeous white diamond-pattern leather inserts. The Coupe was less opulently attired, preferring a sportier black on black interior with a regular pliable composite dash and a tighter diamond pattern for its leather door inserts. Either way, both 4 Series doors wore premium soft-touch surfaces right to their very bottoms.

2020 BMW 440i Coupe
The 440i Coupe’s interior is traditional black, the only way many BMW faithful want their car’s cabin.

Both cars’ seats were exquisitely detailed in perforated hides, the Coupe’s even sporting contrasting light grey piping and stitching, whereas the Cabriolet’s creamy leather was sewn together with black thread. Plenty of satin-finished aluminum and piano black lacquered trim highlighted key areas in both models, while the instrument panel, lower console and doors were enhanced with a tasteful array of glossy dark hardwood in the Cabriolet and ideally suited patterned aluminum inlays for the Coupe. The switchgear in both cabins was once again of the highest quality, BMW cutting zero corners in this respect.

2020 BMW 440i Cabriolet
This Cabriolet’s interior is anything but conventional as far as BMWs go, but it certainly turned smiling heads.

Moving up to 2021 4 Series models will allow for a fully digital primary gauge cluster, which for some will be a worthwhile expense, and while I’ve enjoyed playing around with such devices from other brands, I’d have no issue staying put with the outgoing 4’s mostly analogue dials. They’re classic BMW kit after all, with a small full-colour, high resolution multi-information display at centre, but all infotainment features, such as navigation mapping, audio details, phone queries, car setup functions, parking camera, etcetera are best done from the widescreen display atop the centre stack.

2020 BMW 440i Coupe
The 4 Series dash layout is ideally organized and made from the best materials.

Again, there are more advanced infotainment systems in the industry, particularly in the new 4 Series, but this setup is easy on the eyes, fully featured and responds to inputs more than fast enough. I like BMW’s tile layout that allows finger swiping from function to function or modulation from the console-mounted rotating iDrive controller and surround quick-access buttons. This is well sorted and should be easy for anyone to learn how to use, given some time and practice.

2020 BMW 440i Cabriolet
A closer look shows a cockpit where everything falls precisely to hand.

Tooling around town is a wholly different experience depending on which model you purchase. The 440i Cab made for a wonderful winter reprieve, almost causing me to feel as if summer was back and the good times of evening drinks on patio bistros were around the corner. Yes, that thought might seem masochistic to contemplate amid our current health crisis, but personal luxury cars like this 4 Series Coupe and Convertible are ideal for getting away from all the madness, whether during your daily commute or on a weekend retreat. The well-insulated retractable hard-top made it feel coupe-like as well, and it takes barely a moment to lower, plus can be done while on the move.

2020 BMW 440i Coupe
All 2020 4 Series receive this mostly analogue gauge cluster, which works well and looks classically BMW.

Getting off the line and ahead of packed traffic is no issue when the “440i” emblem is stamped on the rear deck lid, each car’s ability to shoot forward from standstill smile inducing to say the least. Then again, the 430i Coupe doesn’t give up much forward momentum, scooting from zero to 100 km/h in just 5.8 seconds compared to the all-wheel drive Coupe’s 4.9 and rear-drive version’s 5.1 seconds. Yes, four-wheel traction matters more than the extra 39 kilos of curb weight, but mass does cut into the 200-kilogram heavier Cabriolet’s performance with less energetic times of 6.4 and 5.4 seconds for the 430i and 440i variants respectively. The Gran Coupe merely adds 0.1 seconds to each all-wheel drive Coupe sprint, resulting in 5.9 and 5.0 seconds from 430i to 440i. All 4 Series models are limited to a 210-km/h (130-mph) top speed.

2020 BMW 440i Coupe
The infotainment display is extremely well designed and easy to use.

Likewise, I could feel the Cabriolet’s heft in the corners, but not so much that it became unwieldy. In fact, if I had never driven the Coupe before I’d be wholly satisfied, as its handling is wonderfully predictable and oh-so capable when coursing through serpentine stretches at high speeds. The Coupe is just that much better, its lighter curb weight and stiffer body structure providing a more playful attitude that seems to always want to please.

2020 BMW 440i Coupe
Both cars’ front seats were wonderfully supportive and wholly comfortable.

This side of an M4, the only way to make the 440i Coupe better would’ve been the six-speed manual, but the eight-speed auto was impressive as far as commuter transmissions go, shifting quickly in its sportiest mode, when the steering wheel-mounted paddles came into play, yet smooth all the time.

Likewise, both cars’ suspensions soaked up road imperfections well, and never unsettled my forward trajectory, even when pushing hard over some poorly paved sections of curving backroad. They were a pleasure to drive around town too, their comfortable seats, both featuring extendable lower cushions, wonderfully supportive.

2020 BMW 440i Cabriolet
The Cabriolet’s rear seats aren’t as roomy as the Coupe’s or Gran Coupes, but will do the job in a pinch.

The Cabriolet is about as practical as this class gets in back, which isn’t all that much, but the Coupe offers room enough for two adults and the Gran Coupe more so. The same goes for cargo space that ranges from 220 litres in the Cab to 445 litres in either hard-top car, while all cars get a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat with a particularly wide and accommodating centre pass-through.

2020 BMW 440i Coupe
The Coupe’s trunk is more spacious than the Cabriolet’s.

Now that I’m being pragmatic, fuel economy is actually quite good in all of the 4 Series models, the best being the base 430i Coupe and Grand Coupe that share a 10.2 L/100km city, 7.2 highway and 8.8 combined rating, whereas the 430i Cab is good for a claimed 10.6 city, 7.3 highway and 9.1 combined. The thriftiest six-cylinder 4 Series is the rear-drive automatic 440i Coupe at 11.2 L/100km in the city, 7.3 on the highway and 9.4 combined, followed by the both the 440i xDrive auto Coupe and Gran Coupe with ratings of 11.4 city, 7.6 highway and 9.7 combined. The 440i Cab achieves a respective 11.8, 7.9 and 10.0, and lastly the two manually-driven Coupes come in at 12.8, 8.8 and 11.0 for the rear-drive model and 13.0, 8.5 and 11.0 for the xDrive version. All require pricier premium fuel, but that’s par for the course with German luxury vehicles.

2020 BMW 440i Cabriolet
You can lift the divider up and out of the way to make the Cabriolet’s trunk roomier when the top is up.

Now that I’ve lulled you to sleep, I should wake you up by mentioning that BMW is currently offering up to $10,500 in additional incentives for 2020 4 Series models, one of the most aggressive discounts I’ve ever seen offered by any manufacturer on any car, so you might want to head over to the CarCostCanada 2020 BMW 4 Series Canada Prices page to learn more. You can build each model right down to their 20-plus options and aforementioned colours, plus you can learn about any manufacturer leasing and financing deals, available rebates and dealer invoice pricing that will give you a major edge when negotiating your deal. Find out how the CarCostCanada system works, and make sure to download their free app so you can have all of this critical info with you when you’re at the dealership.

2020 BMW 440i Cabriolet
All 4 Series get a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat with a massive centre pass-through for loading long cargo.

I can’t look into the future to guess whether or not the new 2021 4 Series models will eventually be accepted by pre-owned BMW buyers in order to predict their future resale values, because it really will take some time for fans of the brand to make up their collective minds. I don’t even want to think too far ahead regarding my own future tastes, but I can say for sure this most recent 4 Series design has weathered the test of time well. I see it as a future classic, and would be more inclined to pick one of these sure bets up instead of risking my investment on its unorthodox replacement. All I can say is, get one while you can.

Story and photos by Trevor Hofmann

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you fell asleep at night thinking about it and woke up with it still on your mind, repeatedly? That was me when a colleague I worked with at a small BMW retailer…

2020 BMW M5 Road Test

2020 BMW M5
The 2020 M5 is a tad more subdued than the refreshed 2021 model replacing it, so if you like subtler styling snap one of these ones up while you can.

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you fell asleep at night thinking about it and woke up with it still on your mind, repeatedly? That was me when a colleague I worked with at a small BMW retailer back in ’96 (that eventually became Canada’s top seller) was selling his pre-owned E34 M5. The car was gorgeous, wickedly fast and semi-exotic, or at least as exotic as a four-door sport sedan could get.

I ended up working for that BMW dealership almost every day during the slow months in my seasonal business, because I was already a customer. I’d previously owned a wonderful ’74 Bavaria 3.0S and a bulletproof ‘82 528e, and was driving a little 325e while working there, so appreciated taking home whatever they’d give me on the pre-owned lot; a little green E36 325is being a regular that summer. I liked it so much, in fact, that I ordered my then-wife a brand new ‘96 325i Cabriolet with the factory aluminum hardtop. After missing out on the E34 M5 that went for silly money (or so I thought at the time), I settled for a similarly sleek ’89 E34 525i that was at least a step up in performance from my old, boxy Eta engine-powered 3 and 5 (albeit nowhere near as reliable).

2020 BMW M5
Muscular yet still discreet, the M5 is an ideal performance-oriented commuter.

I know I’m not alone when it comes to unfulfilled dreams, particularly with respect to the cars we enthusiasts initially wanted and the ones we settled for, that list a lot longer and more painful than I want to delve into right now, but at least after becoming an automotive pundit I earned the opportunity to drive some of the best cars ever made, some of which wore BMW roundels. Certainly, the various weeks spent with numerous M5s or an even better four days in Bavaria’s fabulous Z8 don’t quite measure up to the Aston Martins, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Bentleys, Ford GT, Porsche Carrera GT, Bugatti, etcetera I’ve driven over the years (although the Z8 was one of the prettiest of them all), but truth be told I’d choose the M5 to drive every day.

2020 BMW M5
The 2020 M5’s design is even more alluring when viewed close up.

BMW’s quintessential sport sedan has been a go-to conveyance for well-heeled commuters for three dozen years, with engine output having increased from 256 horsepower in the North American-spec E28 version to a stellar 617 in this year’s Competition model. The regular 2020 M5 makes do with “just” 600, which is good for a 3.4-second blast from standstill to 100 km/h, while the Competition knocks another 0.1 seconds off the clock.

Of course, if all that any of us wanted were straight-line performance we’d buy an old Fox-bodied Mustang, stuff a 5.2-litre crate engine into it and hit the strip (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The M5 has become legendary for how it bends its sizeable four-door body through curves, initially for being first this side of a Maserati Quattroporte and a few other exotics to do so, and second for being comparably affordable.

2020 BMW M5
Sizeable performance brakes mean the M5 stops much faster than its obvious mass suggests.

Times have changed and you can now get into a four-door Maserati for less than an M5, but I’ll delve into such minutia in a moment or two. For now, after noting the base M5’s 176 horsepower and 1.3-second to 100 km/h advantage, while admitting Maserati will soon ante up with a more potent Ghibli Trofeo that’s 20 hp shy of the entry-level M5 before even getting out of the gates, and without getting thrust into the deep comparison void that obviously includes AMG-Mercedes’ E63 S, Audi’s RS 6 (oddly only available as an Avant wagon), Cadillac’s CT6-V and Lexus’ GS F (although the American and Japanese entrants will soon be ranked alongside other discontinued super sedans such as Jaguar’s XF RS), I’ll go out on a limb and guess that the Bimmer is the most capable of its class members in the corners too.

2020 BMW M5
The M5’s front fender engine vents are stylishly discreet.

It feels lighter and more agile when pushed hard, more E39-like than the F10’s somewhat cumbersome road manners, the carbon fibre roof and other nips and tucks slicing a critical 45 kilos (100 lbs) or so from its predecessor’s curb weight. All-wheel drive keeps all the aforementioned power at bay, and the eight-speed transmitting torque to the wheels shifts much quicker than any conventional automatic should.

A bright red “M2” button on the right-side steering wheel spoke triggers Sport+ mode, which eliminates a bevy of safety features in its default setting, resulting in lickety-split launches and even some power-induced oversteer when the car’s rear drive-biased underpinnings are coaxed beyond containment. Of course, such shenanigans should only be attempted on a track, particularly when having designs to attain the M5’s 305 km/h (190 mph) terminal velocity.

2020 BMW M5
This carbon fibre roof combined with other weight reduction efforts to drop the current M5’s curb weight by 45 kilos.

Out on the road, preferably a rural one that winds and undulates like a boa constrictor squeezing its prey, get ready to dust off slower moving traffic as if it’s floating in stasis. Passing power borders on the ridiculous, with braking force so strong you’ll hardly need to worry about fast-approaching curves. The rate this car can gobble up tarmac is hard to fathom until experiencing it first hand, and that it does so comfortably is even more amazing. Of course, it hardly rides on BMW’s most cosseting suspension setup, yet while firm it’s far from unpleasant.

2020 BMW M5
This working rear diffuser looks aggressive, as does the M5’s quad of exhaust pipes.

The cabin is a cocoon silent too, other than the ideal amount of combined engine and exhaust note, a critical ingredient for petrolheads buying into this high-powered class. This quiet demeanor will be especially appreciated during everyday driving when you’re more likely to leave its sport modes off and turn the 1,400-watt, 16-speaker, 10-amplified-channel Bowers and Wilkins surround audio system up, and believe me the sound quality is almost as awe-inspiring as the driving experience.

2020 BMW M5
The M5’s interior quality is second to none.

More on that just-noted M2 button, it’s combined with an M1 button on the left-side spoke, both featuring pre-set sport settings with the option of personalizing them for your specific driving taste. I tend to like a combination of suspension compliance and engine/transmission eagerness, so to speak, the latter for obvious reasons and the former to overcome the poorly kept country backroads that allow me to test a car like this to its maximum (ok, for the record I was nowhere near the M5’s maximum, but out in the boonies I was able to experience much of its capability when safe to do so). I chose to set my M1 button up like that, and added firmer suspension setting to the M2 button, so when the road smoothed out, I could quickly switch over to maximize Gs. I increased shifting speed from D2 to D3 in M2 mode too, turned off the DSC, and more.

2020 BMW M5
The M5’s cockpit is very well sorted out for optimal comfort, control and ease of use.

The M5’s gauge cluster is perfect for those who want a full digital experience while still maintaining some semblance of analogue design, this due to a set of aluminum rings wrapping the tachometer and speedometer screens. This doesn’t allow the complete takeover of a navigation map, for instance, which is a cool feature offered by other manufacturers, but most should find the large multi-info display at centre large enough for such purposes. No shortage of functions can fill the MID, all scrollable via steering wheel controls, while the system’s graphics and display quality is top notch.

2020 BMW M5
M1 and M2 buttons allow immediate access to personalized performance settings.

As for the main infotainment touchscreen on top of the centre stack, it was good enough for my needs, although gets better for 2021, growing by more than two inches for a new total of 12.3 inches. And you heard me right, by the way, it is a touchscreen and therefore is as easy to use as a tablet or smartphone, but BMW continues to provide its rotating iDrive controller on the lower console, so spin the dial if you prefer or alternatively tap, swipe and pinch to your heart’s content.

2020 BMW M5
The M5’s widescreen infotainment touchscreen will grow by more than two inches for 2021.

I did my fair share of tapping and pinching elsewhere around the cabin too, my incessant quality checks annoying enough to drive a previous significant other nuts (hence, previous). Suffice to say the M5 offers up one of the nicest interiors in the super sedan segment, with some of the best quality materials available and workmanship that should make anyone proud. I mentioned the Bowers and Wilkins stereo already, so I might as well laud the system’s beautiful drilled aluminum speaker grilles first, as they’re lovely. The plenty of other metalwork throughout the interior, some accents made from brushed aluminum and others from bright, while glossy carbon fibre could be found in key locations, as could exquisitely stitched leathers.

2020 BMW M5
These are some of the best sport seats in this super sedan class.

The front seats are gorgeous and wholly comfortable, with more support than any other BMW product I’ve tested, and at least as much as its competitors. They boast complete adjustability including extendable lower cushions, while the driving position was superb thanks to a generous supply of steering column reach. Those in back should be comfortable enough, as long as they’re seated next to the windows, with the entire rear compartment finished to the same high quality as the front compartment. Lastly, the M5’s trunk is large and accommodating, plus best of all its usefulness can be expanded via 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks.

2020 BMW M5
The rear seating area is generous for the class.

If you like the 2020 M5’s styling you’re not alone, as the car has been a relative hit. This said the 2021 M5 will undergo some visual surgery, squaring off a slightly enlarged grille, modifying the headlights and tail lamps, plus tweaking some other design details as well. Most should be ok with the changes, but those happy with the 2020 might want to snap one up while they can. This said, BMW isn’t offering any greater deal with the 2020 model, at least not yet, with both 2020 and 2021 models available with up to $1,500 in additional incentives, according to CarCostCanada. Check out the 2020 BMW M5 Canada Prices page and 2021 BMW M5 Canada Prices page for more info, plus find out how you can access all the available incentives on the M5 and most other cars available on the Canadian market, including rebates, financing and leasing deals, plus dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. Also, download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store, so you can access all of this critical decision-making info on the fly.

2020 BMW M5
BMW’s M division does engine beautification well.

The 2020 M5 starts at $115,300 plus freight and fees for the base car and $123,000 for the Competition model, while the 2021 M5 only comes in Competition trim, but has surprisingly gone down in price to just $121,000. Performance is unchanged, which means the 2021 M5 continues forward as one of the fastest four-door sedans on the planet, as well as one of the nicest to live with.

 

 

Story and photo credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo editing: Karen Tuggay

Just when we thought 2020 couldn’t get any stranger, BMW created a twitterstorm of its own with the online launch of its most iconic performance model. The Munich, Germany-based automaker took the wraps…

BMW reveals dramatic new M3 and M4 with optional AWD

2021 BMW M3 and M4
The new 2021 BMW M3 and M4, shown here in top-tier Competition trim, offer up a radical new design and strong performance gains.

Just when we thought 2020 couldn’t get any stranger, BMW created a twitterstorm of its own with the online launch of its most iconic performance model. The Munich, Germany-based automaker took the wraps off an entirely new 2021 M3 sport sedan and M4 coupe on Tuesday, September 22, with the resultant global buzz near palpable.

To merely call them “bold” or “dramatic” would be understating the truth bomb they represent, as the unconventional new designs are at the very least polarizing. Stylistically, the all-new M3 (G80) and M4 (G82) seem to be reaching far back into BMW’s history, pulling frontal design cues from the mid-‘60s 2000 C and 2000 CS sport coupes that rode on the back of the brand’s then New Class architecture, which also included the 1500 and 1600 sedans with similar, albeit smaller grilles. While beautiful from their hood lines and front fenders rearward, plus in fact introducing the beloved Hofmeister kink to the rear quarter windows and eventually resulting in the now iconic and highly collectable E9 range of coupes produced from ‘68 to ‘75, the 3.0 CSi being most notable and the CSL most sought after, earlier examples suffered from a deep, rounded bucktooth-like kidney grille that was never as palatable to the majority of collectors as coupe models that followed or came before.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
The M3 appears easier on the eyes in this subdued dark green colour, but the bright yellow-green really grabs the eyeballs.

That latter point in mind, the brand’s head of design, Domagoj Dukec (and company), may have been looking further back to BMW’s 309, 319, 320, 321, 328 and 329 models of the mid-to-late ‘30s and early ‘40s, whose tall radiators come closer to matching the size of the new M offerings. Either way, their choices for historical inspiration may cause some would-be M car buyers to take pause.

After all, previous fifth- and first-generation M3/M4 (F80/F82/F83) and original E30-based M3 aside (the former more aggressively penned than its predecessors and the latter whose coke-bottle hips made it stand out from its slab-sided 318i donor), M3s have always been subtle in their approach to styling, preferring moderate visual cues only enthusiasts would notice over the types of radical lower body cladding, ducts and wings found on pumped up versions of some rivals. Not so anymore.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
Will the new M cars’ inventive front fascia grow on would-be buyers? BMW no doubt believes so.

This said, we do love our beavers in Canada, so the new M3 and M4’s aggressive overbite could become very popular north of the 49th. Along with the largest twin kidney grille design ever offered on a modern-day BMW product (it might even be larger than the aforementioned ‘30s-era models), the two new performance cars provide similarly sleek lines to their predecessors from headlamps to taillights, plus key M design elements elsewhere, such as the front fender engine vents, double-post side mirror housings, carbon fibre roof tops, and aggressive rear diffusers.

If it looks fast it better be fast, right? Fortunately, BMW fans have considerably more straight-line performance to celebrate with these sixth- and second-generation M cars, the respective base, or rather “core” M3 and M4 capable of rocketing from standstill to 100 km/h in just 4.2 seconds before attaining a top speed of 250 km/h, or 290 km/h when the M Driver’s Package is chosen. Even more importantly the core models can blast from 80 to 120 km/h in a mere 4.1 seconds when their standard six-speed manual transmissions are placed in fourth gear.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
Rear styling should be easily accepted by all, and this is the vantage point most people will be looking at anyway.

If that’s not enough, buck up for one of the even more potent M3 and M4 Competition models to see that zero to 100 km/h time drop by 0.3 seconds to a sub-four 3.9-second sprint, while an unfathomable 1.5 seconds gets axed off the two quicker cars’ 80 to 120 km/h passing maneuverability, the feat accomplished in a surprising 2.6 seconds according to BMWblog.com.

All of this speed comes via two versions of a new 3.0-litre TwinPower Turbo S58 inline six-cylinder powerplant, both receiving mono-scroll turbochargers featuring quick-reacting electronically-controlled wastegates as well as highly efficient air-to-water intercooling. Like the outgoing S55 twin-turbo I-6, these are built upon BMW’s well-proven B58 engine architecture introduced in 2015. The base engine used in M3 and M4 core models makes 48 horsepower more than their previous generation for a total of 473 horsepower at 6,250 rpm, while faster Competition versions put out an additional 59 ponies for a total of 503 horsepower, also at 6,250 rpm (redline is 7,200 rpm, which is lofty unless you’re stepping out of a 2007 to 2013 E90/E92/E93 M3 whose glorious V8 spun up to a stratospheric 8,400 rpm).

2021 BMW M3 Competition
A longer wheelbase and wider track enhance style and performance.

No doubt, the two M models’ four 100-millimetre tailpipes will be exhilarating to the ears, but BMW has included electrically controlled flaps via an M Sound button in order to reduce sound levels when wanting more comfort than speed, while choosing SPORT or SPORT+ modes results in the opposite effect.

Allowing the engine to rev freely, wire-arc sprayed cylinder liners reduce friction and weight, while a lightweight forged crankshaft lowers rotating mass, both of which are set into a rigid closed-deck engine block. In the inline-six engine’s cylinder head incorporates a 3D-printed core that provides improved coolant flow-through as well as reduced weight.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
What do you think of the M4’s massive twin-kidney grille? Cool or meh?

Torque in core models is the same as with the last iteration at 406 lb-ft between 2,650 and 6,130 rpm (which is a bit higher than the previous model’s minimum max torque range of 1,850 to 5,500 rpm), incidentally, but Competition cars get an increase of 73 lb-ft for a new max of 479 between 2,750 and 5,500 rpm, hence the impressive performance mentioned a moment ago.

As usual the aforementioned six-speed manual gearbox comes standard, complete with a rev-matching Gear Shift Assistant to make any driver seem as if they’re blipping the throttle like a pro while downshifting, but the move up to Competition trim necessitates the brand’s eight-speed M Steptronic automated transmission with Drivelogic. Drivelogic consists of a trio of driving modes including “ROAD”, “SPORT” and “TRACK”, the latter available after also choosing the cars’ M Drive Professional setting. The M Steptronic transmission can be shifted via paddles, of course, while a true manual mode won’t allow any automatic upshifts at all.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
No doubt these pipes sound amazing!

As has always been the case, the M3 and M4 come standard with rear-wheel drive, but for the first time ever new Competition models will also be available with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system. The rear-wheel biased AWD design transfers torque to the rear wheels under normal conditions, but the system’s Active M Differential will apportion some of that power to the front tires when wheel slip occurs, thus allowing optimal traction while maintaining BMW’s acclaimed RWD feel.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
Better in white with classic M decals and plenty of M Performance parts?

This said, the previously noted sport mode will send more power to the rear wheels more often in order to liven up the driving experience, even allowing for some rear-wheel drift or oversteer, while those who really know what they’re doing can turn off traction control to enjoy full rear-wheel drive. All can be controlled via the two M cars’ M Traction Control system, which provides 10 different settings from almost total intervention to completely unchecked.

If the new cars look longer, lower and leaner than their immediately outgoing predecessors, take note they receive a 45-millimetre longer wheelbase and a slightly wider track, while the standard carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) roof panel helps to lower their centre of gravity and achieve 50/50 front to rear weight distribution.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
Black might be the optimal shade for those wanting a more discreet look.

Like the transmission, the M3 and M4’s chassis receives three preset settings for optimizing road conditions via an electronically-controlled Adaptive M suspension that includes Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus settings. Along with a progressively stiffer setup, BMW’s M Servotronic steering system improves its sharpness for better response, aided by 275/40ZR18 front and 285/35 ZR19 rear performance tires on Core and rear-wheel drive Competition trims, and 275/35ZR19 front and 285/30ZR20 rear rubber on the xDrive Competition model.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
The new M3’s cabin looks impressive.

Of course, braking performance has been improved to match the cars’ engine and suspension upgrades, with six-piston fixed-caliper binders clamping down on 380 mm discs up front, and single-piston floating calipers with 370 mm disks in the rear. Alternatively, M Carbon ceramic brakes with larger 400 mm front and 380 mm rear discs can be had for optimal stopping power. These reduce fade, improve thermal stability and take a lot longer to wear out, not to mention come with gold-painted calipers instead of the usual stock blue, or optional black or red. Either way, an electric “integrated braking” actuator helps improve braking response.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
The M4’s controls look ready for the track.

The just noted M Carbon ceramic brakes can reportedly be had as part of an M Race Track Package as well, which also includes light-alloy wheels and lightweight M Carbon front seats. Also mentioned before, the M Drive Professional upgrade, standard with Competition models and optional with Core models, incorporates an M Drift Analyzer that records oversteer and opposite lock incidents, including timed duration, line and drift angle. A driver’s personal results are rated from one star to five, with the latter number meaning you need to keep trying.

The new 2021 M3 and M4 will arrive in Canada this coming spring at $84,300 for the sedan and $85,100 for the coupe, with pricing and details for the upcoming M4 Cabriolet arriving sometime in between. A move up to Competition trim appears to be a surprisingly good deal at just $4,000, and for that reason will likely be the most popular choice.

2021 BMW M4 Competition
Have you ever seen a better OEM sport seat?

As for how BMW’s faithful will accept the M3 and M4’s new design direction, it’s a mixed bag. All out praise is rare, but some potential buyers seem to love the new models’ eye-catching styling. Either way, there’s much to be said about standing out from the crowd, and BMW certainly achieves this with their new frontal designs.

Those wanting the performance of a new M3 or M4 yet preferring a subtler look should take note of the sport sedan version wearing all-black (including extra carbon fibre) in a number of images provided for the simultaneous introduction of the two cars’ M Performance Parts catalogue. A red and black M3 is shown too, as well as a white and traditionally M-striped M4 with many of the catalogue’s new OEM parts shown, the massive rear wing and triangular cluster of diffuser-mounted exhaust ports enough to make a Honda Civic R owner blush from inadequacy.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
The M3 and M4’s gigantic grille feeds air into this fabulous inline-6.

If the new M3 and M4 are too radical for your personal tastes, be sure to check out CarCostCanada that is showing up to $2,000 in additional manufacturer incentives on 2020 models. The 2020 Ms are still incredibly quick and plenty attractive, plus CarCostCanada also provides manufacturer rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. Learn more about CarCostCanada’s many ways to save money on a new vehicle, and remember to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store.

BMW Today – Episode 25: World premiere BMW M3 & M4 (13:15):

Story credit: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: BMW

BMW’s X1 was the very first subcompact luxury crossover SUV ever produced, having arrived on the European scene in 2009 as a 2010 model, two years before we saw it as a 2012. Even when it showed up…

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i Road Test

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The good looking second-generation BMW X1 has struck a chord with entry-level luxury SUV buyers, making it most popular by far. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

BMW’s X1 was the very first subcompact luxury crossover SUV ever produced, having arrived on the European scene in 2009 as a 2010 model, two years before we saw it as a 2012. Even when it showed up on our shores in April of 2011, nothing else was around to compete against it, unless you consider the near-luxury Mini Countryman as a direct rival, that model having arrived in February of the same year.

Once October 2011 rolled around, the Range Rover Evoque entered the market and a new automotive category was created, but it would take another three years for Audi and Mercedes-Benz to add more variety to North America’s new subcompact luxury SUV segment with their respective Q3 and GLA-Class (unless you count the Buick Encore that arrived in 2013), plus an additional two years for Infiniti to show up with its QX30 (not that many noticed), three more for Jaguar’s E-Pace, Volvo’s XC40 and BMW’s second offering, the sportier X2, and one more for Lexus’ new UX.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The new design, introduced for the 2018 model year, is a lot more in line with its larger X3 and X5 siblings. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

More are on the way, including Alfa Romeo’s Tonale for 2022, and possibly something eventually from Acura (long rumoured to be called the CDX), but Infiniti has already cancelled its QX30 so Acura may have been wise to hold out. Then again, aforementioned Buick has done very well with its Encore, and while the brand sits at the lowest end of the premium market in price and prestige, the model’s upcoming second-generation (expected for 2020) could make an even bigger dent in the market.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
Sporty yet classy styling comes standard with every X1. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

If we were to consider Buick a true luxury brand the Encore be the sales leader in this category, but with a base price of $28,400 (not even as high as the Mini Countryman’s base of $31,690) it’s not really a contender for premium status. Buick sold 10,637 Encores in 2018 and 8,322 as of October 31, 2019, which represents considerably more buyers than BMW has been able to find with its second-bestselling X1, which found 5,308 buyers in 2018 and 3,753 so far this year. The X1 starts at $41,500, however, so it’s not really a fair comparison. One is a gussied up Chevy Trax that delivers big on fuel economy and reasonably on features, but not so much on performance or refinement, and the other is a leader in all of the above (see 2019 BMW X1 pricing at CarCostCanada, where you can learn about all its packages and individual options in detail, plus find out about valuable rebate information as well as dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands, BMW currently offering up to $2,000 in additional incentives on 2019s and $1,000 on the new 2020 model).

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
Our tester should’ve worn 19s, but seasonal conditions necessitated a set of 18-inch winters. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

To be fair to Buick, some of the X1’s rivals wouldn’t have initially received high marks in all the just-noted categories. Audi’s first-generation Q3 was a bit weak on performance and refinement, and honestly the original X1 was regularly criticized by pundits for cheaper interior plastics than any other BMW, my first review of this model claiming that Ford’s Escape Titanium “even offers more soft-touch interior surfaces than this X1.” I lauded the X1 for its overall solidity and performance, mind you, both important differentiators expected from premium SUVs.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
Sharp lens detailing make these LED taillights stand out. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The X1, now in its second generation and ironically having traded its lovely rear-wheel drive E91 3 Series Touring-platform (arguably its best asset) in for the aforementioned Mini Countryman’s second-gen front-wheel drive-biased UKL2 architecture (hardly a slouch either), today’s entry-level BMW SUV is a wholly different vehicle than its predecessor. It started out as a low, hunkered down, rear-wheel drive-biased AWD five-door crossover, but now it’s grown up into a much more conventionally shaped and sized subcompact luxury SUV, looking a lot more like its larger X3 and X5 siblings. Its considerable sales growth in 2016 and 2017 back up BMW’s decision to take the X1 in this new direction, and while deliveries dipped a bit in 2018 and so far this year, this probably has more to do with BMW’s introduction of the X2 than anything else, while more importantly it’s managed to remain in its number one position (amongst true subcompact luxury SUVs) even without factoring in the X2.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The X1’s interior is a cut above most rivals. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Specifically, the X1’s aforementioned year-to-date Canadian sales of 3,753 units is considerably higher than the second-place GLA’s 3,021 deliveries over the same 10 months, and likewise when compared to Lexus’ new UX that’s already taken third-place way from Audi’s Q3 with 2,374 units against 2,303. As for the success of the also-rans, Volvo’s new XC40 managed 1,690 units, Land Rover’s redesigned Range Rover Evoque secured 1,333 new buyers, BMW’s own X2 attracted 1,159 new owners, and Jaguar’s E-Pace wasn’t last (yet) with 372 customers, while Infiniti’s now discontinued QX30 brought up the rear with 93 deliveries (too bad, because it’s more than decent offering).

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
High quality materials join a sporty, well-appointed cockpit. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

BMW shows its dominance even more when combining X1 and X2 sales that reached 4,912 units at the close of October, and that’s even before adding in the 2,082 Countryman (should we call them Countrymen?) SUVs sold over the same three-and-a-third quarters (most of which reach into the mid-$40k range), boosting deliveries to almost 7,000 units (6,994), they almost tally up to everything Mercedes, Lexus and Audi (2, 3 and 4 in the category) can sell combined (7,698 units). Ah, the sweet smell of success.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
These classic BMW dials appear to float overtop a digital background. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The smell of my tester was leather thanks to its beautiful milk chocolate brown Mocha Dakota Leather upholstered cabin, the $950 upgrade from base leatherette requisite when opting for its pretty $895 Mediterranean Blue Metallic exterior paint (the satin aluminum silver trim across the front and rear undertrays plus the rocker panels comes standard, while optional Oyster Grey and Black leather interiors are also available with this colour). The open-pore Oak Grain wood inlays with chrome and brush-metal highlights are no-cost bonuses that make the cabin look so upscale (additional woods, brushed aluminum and piano black lacquered inlays can be had too) as are all the high-quality soft-touch composite surfaces that step the X1 up and over most rivals.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
This upgraded Sport steering wheel incorporates paddle-shifters. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

To be real, Dakota leather is BMW’s lower grade hide, but Nappa and Merino aren’t offered with the X1. It’s still the real deal, however, but it can be corrected-grain or even formed from the leather split and then coated with synthetic polymer paint, with its surface artificially embossed for a grain effect. What matters is it smells right, looks good and lasts, with the X1’s seat inserts even perforated for breathability. The seats didn’t include forced ventilation or anything so fancy, but the three-way front derriere warmers heated up to therapeutic levels quickly when set to their topmost temperature, adding a coziness to the already comfortable driver’s seat.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The centre stack is well laid out and filled with features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The front driver and passenger four-way lumbar support isn’t standard, but rather comes as part of two available packages, the first a $3,500 upgrade dubbed Premium Package Essential that also includes power-folding side mirrors, proximity-sensing keyless Comfort Access, auto-dimming centre and side mirrors, a large panoramic sunroof, a “HiFi” audio system, and an alarm, and the second as-tested $5,900 Premium Package Enhanced including everything above plus a head-up display, a universal remote, satellite radio, navigation, BMW’s semi-autonomous Park Assistant, the BMW ConnectedDrive Services Package, and a powered liftgate.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The centre touchscreen’s tile interface let’s you choose between multiple functions readily at your fingertips. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Both packages are also available with a heatable steering wheel, plus a $1,000 Driving Assistant Plus package that adds approach warning with pedestrian alert and light city braking, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go plus traffic jam assist, high-beam assist, and speed limit info.

Now that we’re talking upgrades, my tester also included a $950 Sport Performance Package featuring a Sport automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddles (worth the upgrade alone), more reactive M Sport Steering, and 19-inch alloy wheels, although my tester was smartly outfitted for this colder season and therefore included a set of 225/50R18 Continental ContiWinterContact tires on special M Sport split five-spoke alloys.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The navigation system provided very accurate route guidance, and one of the more detailed maps in the industry. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

As anyone who’s driven on winter rubber will know, performance on anything but snow or ice is compromised, and therefore my tester’s at-the-limit grip couldn’t possible measure up to the stock wheel and tire combination. This said it proved more agile than the same SUV shod in 17-inch winter tires for my 2016 X1 xDrive28i review, which were smaller due to the older model coming with 18s in base trim.

Not much else seems to have changed since then, however, which obviously (by the aforementioned sales numbers) doesn’t matter to X1 buyers, or for that matter to me. The model’s only engine, a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, still makes 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, potent when sidled up beside some of its rivals, like a Lexus UX or the base Mercedes GLA, but nowhere near as energetic as the latter model in 375-horsepower AMG trim, or for that matter top-line versions of the Jaguar E-Pace, Range Rover Evoque or Volvo XC40, but once again popularity proves this isn’t an issue.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The upper row of controls are for audio and infotainment functions, while the lower interface is primary for the dual-zone auto HVAC system. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I found it more than adequately powered, especially with Sport mode engaged, which meant the standard ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission responded more immediately to shifts, whether prompted by its paddles or left to its own devices. All-wheel drive is standard, and in the wet improved grip off the line and mid-turn, while the little utility feels poised compared to some in this class, but not as agile as the aforementioned AMG GLA 45, for instance, or its predecessor that was little more than a raised 3 Series wagon. More importantly, today’s X1 is more comfortable than its predecessor and many competitors, whether the powertrain is set to more relaxed Comfort or Eco modes or not, its ride particularly good for such a compact SUV. Eco mode in mind, claimed fuel economy is even decent at 10.7 L/100km in the city, 7.5 on the highway and 9.3 combined.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The 8-speed automatic provides quick, smooth shifts. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

It’s actually one of the more well-rounded entry-level SUVs in the premium sector, and amongst the most practical. Along with the comfortable front seats, the lower cushions even including adjustable side bolsters and manual thigh extensions, the steering column provided at least four inches of reach that, together with the amply adjustable driver’s seat, allowed my long-legged, shorter-torso five-foot-eight frame to fit in ideally, optimizing both comfort and control (this is often not the case). The aforementioned four-way powered lumbar support aided comfort, especially during long hauls, while the adjustable side bolsters cupped the torso nicely and the thigh extensions added support under the knees. BMW has thought of just about everything to make the X1’s front occupants comfortable.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The front seats are two of the most comfortable in the subcompact luxury SUV class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The rear passenger compartment is more accommodating than you might think for a vehicle in this class too, while the outboard backrests are plenty supportive and centre position not wholly uncomfortable (normally the case with subcompacts). Two is better in back, however, allowing a wide (albeit slightly low) centre armrest with smallish pop-out cupholders to be folded down in between. When positioned behind the driver’s seat, which once again was extended further rearward than for most five-foot-eight folks, allowing approximately four inches ahead of my knees, at least another four to five above my head, plus about four next to my hips and shoulders. I certainly never felt cramped.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The optional panoramic sunroof is well worth its upgrade price. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Of course the large panoramic sunroof overhead made for a much more open and airy rear passenger experience, while the LED reading lights overhead can add light at night if those in back want to read. There were no seat heaters in back, a bit of a letdown, but on the positive the rear quarters are finished just as nicely as those up front.

The cargo compartment is nicely finished as well, with high-quality carpeting up the sides of each wall, on the cargo floor, of course, which can be removed to expose a large hidden stowage area, plus on the backsides of the ideally 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks. If you have any intention of using your future SUV for skiing, or any other type of activity that might have you carrying longer cargo down the centre with passengers in back should consider this more flexible cargo configuration. BMW provides 505 litres (17.8 cubic feet) of dedicated gear-toting space behind those seatbacks, and gives you a convenient set of levers to drop them down, resulting in a sizeable 1,550 litres (54.7 cubic feet) of total capacity.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
Rear seat roominess and comfort is excellent, but it’s missing rear seat heaters. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Back in the driver’s seat, the X1’s primary instrument cluster consists of the usual two analogue dials, although they appear as if floating within a colourful digital background, which looks really nice when lit up at night. Of course that background is a multi-information display at centre, plus warning lights, info about the active cruise control and more around the outer edges.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The X1’s 40/20/40-split rear seatback is a dealmaker for active lifestyles. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Propped up at the centre leading edge of the sloping dash-top is a beautiful wide high-definition display with fabulous depth of colour and contrast, and stimulating graphics. Unlike most premium rivals that don’t include touchscreens, BMW’s display is fully capacitive, allowing tap, pinch, and swipe capabilities just like a tablet or smartphone. You can also use the traditional iDrive rotating controller and surrounding buttons on the lower console for quick control. It’s an intelligent system, expected from the brand that initiated modern infotainment way back in the early aughts, while all the functions performed flawlessly including the route guidance that got me to my destinations perfectly each time. The upgraded audio system was very good too, and included a power/volume knob and row of quick-access radio presets just below a set of HVAC vents positioned under the display, and just above a comprehensive dual-zone auto climate control interface. Everything is well laid out, adding to the X1’s all-round goodness.

As is always the case, vehicles don’t become number one in their respective classes by accident, which is why anyone contemplating a small luxury SUV should seriously consider BMW’s X1.

Electric-only Tesla aside, BMW’s i3 was the first premium-branded EV when it arrived on Canadian soil in 2014 and remains so more than 3 years later. Now for 2017 it gets a significant power boost that…

2017 BMW i3 REx Loft Road Test

A lot has happened on the electric vehicle front since BMW came to market with its i3 in the spring of 2014. It was an anomaly amongst premium carmakers at the time, and while no competitive brand has anted up with a subcompact hatchback to do direct battle with this upstart imp, plenty have entered the plug-in hybrid fray.

The i3 started life with a cute albeit unusual exterior design and one of the more appealing interiors I'd experienced up to that point. Today, its outer styling remains quirky yet relatively fresh due to rarity, and its interior is still amongst personal favourites.

It was always a bomb to drive, with quick acceleration and superb handling, the latter surprising when first eyeing its tall, narrow, stubby proportions, and while its approximate 160 kilometres of electric-only range was reasonable for the day, more would've helped. That's how it stayed for its first few years, but for 2017 BMW bumped up the capacity of its battery from 22.0- to 33.0-kWh, Read Full Story