BMW 440i a driver's

delight

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, static side
BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, action front
BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, static side 3
BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, static side 2
BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, action rear
BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, dashboard

THERE are roads, if you're prepared to go out and find them, where top performing cars can still show some of their immense capabilities in safety.

I'm lucky enough to live in an area where there are quite a few, and having used them for many years, I know them very, very well.

I'm not going to tell you where they are - I don't want them to become any more crowded - but in my travels throughout much of this country, I have found many more and enjoyed them all.

I learn more about a car on these routes than anywhere else, because I can compare them against other similar cars over the same ground.

One of the finest all round I have yet driven comes at a hefty £45,000 and change in its most basic form.

The BMW 440i is yet another car from the German stable that reaches the pinnacle of excellence in every facet of a superb driving machine.

In fact, having recently also had a short blast in the M4, this Gran Coupe is the better car.

It's almost as quick, far more comfortable and relaxed to drive, and perhaps with the exception of being pushed to the limit on a circuit, still manages handling that is just as scintillating.

The five door coupe shape has grown on me, and now looks more stylish than the 3 Series. And of course, five doors makes it much more practical than the coupe.

The silky smooth engine in this paragon of cars is the well-known 3.0-litre straight six, and with 326bhp on tap, the performance is brilliant.

It reels in the horizon like a fish on a line and a prod on the accelerator is enough for the swiftest and safest overtaking on any straight piece of road.

Drive is to the rear wheels through an eight speed automatic box, which has Drive, Sport and manual modes.

Drive is excellent for 90 per cent of the time behind the wheel, but Sport quickens response and exhilaration to an amazing degree.

In fact this is so good when pressing on, that the manual setting, with paddles behind the steering wheel, is almost superfluous. As is so often true with modern cars, the auto does it better!

As well as having such marvellous power, this wonderful engine also claims very low emissions of just 159 grammes per kilometre. Such a figure for such an engine would have been unthinkable even five years ago.

It is typically BMW compliant and comfortable and yet still gives fantastic handling and roadholding in the company tradition.

Other car makers all too often fit harder sports suspension to supposedly give their cars improved handling, but this usually spoils the comfort, actually detracting from the appeal of the car to many people.

This top model in the range comes with a wealth of electronic driving aids. The driving position is superb and the heated leather seats are well-shaped and supportive.

The boot is as big as that in the 3 series and bigger than the coupe, and there's plenty of head and legroom for rear seat passengers.

Equipment in standard trim includes, start stop, a 60/40 split folding rear seat, a special driving mode to reduce fuel consumption, parking sensors, xenon headlights, Bluetooth, cruise and a DAB stereo with all the right inputs.

FAST FACTS

Price: £45,490

Mechanical:326bhp, 2,998cc, 6 cylinder petrol engine driving rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 155mph

0-62mph:5.1 seconds

Combined MPG:37

Insurance Group:36

C02 emissions:159g/km

Bik rating: 30%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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