2021 BMW M440i Cabriolet Review: Cloth-Top Cruiser

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick
We’ve talked about the 4 Series’ front-end enough; now, how about its roof?

Yes, that schnoz is a contentious. I’ve covered it not once but twice, first with the tin-top M440i review and more recently with the searingly quick M4 Competition. The truth is that it becomes less of an issue with every encounter. That’s especially true when you’ve got the open-air experience to distract you, as is the case in the 2021 BMW M440i Cabriolet here.

Armed with a simpler, lighter fabric roof, the latest 4 Series Cabriolet is a class act. It tips the balance more towards boulevard cruiser than open-top sports car, but with the larger dimensions of this generation, that’s no bad thing. In fact, unless you want the full-fledged M4, the Cab might be the best version of BMW’s middleweight two-door.

SEE ALSO: 2021 BMW M440i xDrive Review: Baby Grand (Tourer)

What’s new?

As mentioned above, after two generations, the 4 Series has had a conscious uncoupling with the folding hardtop. Good riddance, I say. While there’s certainly an argument to be made for the added anti-theft value of the metal roof, in every other way, it was worse. Worse for top-up aesthetics. Worse for weight—and thus, dynamics, and fuel economy. Modern fabric roofs are well-insulated, too: with the top-up, there’s only the slightest of upticks in ambient noise.

The M440i needs just 18 seconds to go from top-up to top-down. What’s more, it can do it on the move too, up to 31 mph (50 km/h).


Engine: 3.0L I6 Turbo
Output: 382 hp, 369 lb-ft
Transmission: 8AT, RWD
US fuel economy (MPG): 23/31/26
CAN fuel economy (L/100KM): 10.3/7.6/9.1 (est)
Starting Price (USD): $54,095 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (USD): $78,000 (est, inc. dest.)
Starting Price (CAD): $64,580 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (CAD): $89,930 (inc. dest.)

Beyond the Cabriolet-specific changes, the rest of the package is pure modern 4 Series. This is a bigger car now, with distinct 8 Series vibes versus the more upright nature of the 3 Series it’s based on. As much as that nose divides onlookers, I find the coupe’s rear haunches to be more distracting. There’s a lot of sheetmetal back there, making the 4 look heavy and inelegant from the classic rear three-quarter angle. The Cab fixes that with the roof down, of course, while the black contrast fabric also visually pulls weight out when it’s up.

This tester is dipped in BMW Individual Frozen Portimao Blue (a steep $4,900 CAD option). I’m not normally a fan of matte paint, but it works here, giving off a real South-of-France vibe.

Luxury digs

Crack open the door (or drop the roof) and the 4 Cab greets driver and passengers alike with a classy, upscale cabin. I’m not saying a blue luxury convertible needs to have a cream-colored interior—but it certainly helps. The leather is soft, the seats are comfortable and supportive, and the backseat will even swallow up adults for shorter trips. Legroom isn’t great, but almost more importantly, wind noise and turbulence are both fine right up to highway speeds.

SEE ALSO: 2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e PHEV Review: Strong and Silent Type

The interior design is familiar not just from the 4 Coupe, but from pretty much every other current BMW. That is to say it’s all logically laid out and material quality is very good, but it feels just a little conservative here in 2021. A little more pomp and circumstance would not go amiss. The thick steering wheel frames BMW’s optional digital instrument panel, which is crisp and easy to read, not to mention very customizable.

The central screen is a 10.3-inch unit, running iDrive 7. It remains one of the quicker UIs out there, though navigating its myriad sub-menus may take a bit of time to learn. Happily, it can be accessed either by the console-mounted rotary dial, or—if you don’t mind the fingerprints—your good ol’ digits. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard, and wirelessly to boot.

BMW has become better at included standard safety equipment. The 4 Series Cabriolet includes forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-departure warning as standard. Features like adaptive cruise control and the 360-degree camera remain extra-cash options, however.

Better drive when dialled back

Armed with a 382-horsepower version of BMW’s ubiquitous inline-six, the M440i is quicker in a straight line than a full-blooded M3 of barely a decade ago. The 369 lb-ft of torque doesn’t peak, but plateaus, starting from 1,800 rpm and sticking around until 5,000 revs. That gives this four-seater effortless oomph off the line, with BMW quoting just 5.2 seconds for the customary rip up to 62 mph (100 km/h). Accompanying the charge up the redline is a buttery-smooth inline-six song, with just enough edge emanating from the twin exhaust tips to suggest real muscle, without descending into rudeness.

SEE ALSO: 2021 Ford Mustang GT Convertible California Special Review: Cloudy with a Chance of (V8) Thunder

Like almost every modern Bimmer with a snail (or two) under the hood, the 4 Cab feels underrated, like it’s producing at least 400 hp instead. Helping performance further is a 48-volt mild hybrid system, which allows for more engine-off time without the sudden jolt as the cylinders come back to life. Unless you’re watching the tach, it can be hard to notice the start-stop at lights.

Even the 4,171-pound (1,892 kg) curb weight can’t blunt the straight-six experience. That chunky number does mean the 4 Series isn’t as eager to untangle your nearest backroad as the afore-mentioned M3, though. Sure, you can set the adaptive suspension to Sport, and the 225/40 front and 255/35 rear Michelins Pilot Sport 4 S tires will hang on gamely, but it all just feels so gauche. Instead, wind back the effort to 7 or 8, and the M440i is composed and plush. The steering is quick and precise, without any of the interference xDrive might play by having the front wheels handle both steering and power delivery. (Fun fact: if Canadians want a rear-drive M440i, the Cabriolet is currently the only way to enjoy it.) Even on the harsher, moon-surface roads around the city, the M440i remains in control, smoothing out bumps and maintaining equilibrium.

Shifting duties fall to the smooth ZF eight-speed auto found in most every modern BMW. It’s just as good here as it is everywhere else, never setting a foot wrong and responding to inputs quickly in manual mode. The brake pedal is pleasantly firm, and the four-piston front calipers and single-piston rears are capable of hauling the M440i up repeatedly without issue.

Who’s the competition?

If you’re in the market for a 4 Series Cabriolet, chances are that you’d consider the droptop versions of the Audi A5/S5 and Mercedes C-Class, too. Both offer turbocharged four-cylinder models to line up with the entry-level 430i Cabriolet. If it’s an M440i alternative you’re after, then we’re talking S5 and C 43 AMG. Both lineups are AWD-only except for the base C 300, whereas the 4 Cab lineup is rear-drive; BMW will offer xDrive models later this year.

SEE ALSO: 2021 BMW M440i Cabriolet Review: Cloth-Top Cruiser

The Audi has the price advantage (in America), with the four-cylinder starting at $51,445 ($68,050 CAD), including destination, while the S5 begins at $61,645 ($82,250 CAD). A C 300 Cabriolet kicks off at $55,695 (circa $62,500 CAD with 4MATIC), and graduating to the C 43 requires at least $66,495 (around $76,500 CAD). The 4 Series slides in right between the other two Germans, with the 430i Cabriolet $54,095 ($64,580 CAD) and the M440i Cab at $64,995 ($75,230 CAD). This well-specced presser saw plenty of other goodies swell its asking price, such as the “air collar” in-seat heaters, head-up display, Laserlight headlights, wireless charging, 19-inch performance non-run-flat tires, and the pricey-but-pretty matte paint. Final damage? An as-tested price just shy of $90,000 in Canada, or roughly $78,000 south of the border.

Verdict: 2021 BMW M440i Cabriolet Review

With the growth spurt between generations, the 4 Series has matured into an accomplished grand tourer. In coupe form that’s all well and good, but it’s the Cabriolet that capitalizes best on the changes. The comparative dearth of convertibles these days makes its open-air experience something of a rarity—and by dint of that, one of luxury as well.

The 2021 BMW M440i Cabriolet is a smooth operator. Unsullied by a metal top or all-wheel drive, it’s a comfortable, classy cruiser that still knows how to have more fun than its German competition when the road gets twisty. Unless you must have an M4, skip the coupe—just pack some extra sunscreen.

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  • Excellent cruiser
  • Silky-smooth inline-six power
  • Properly lux spec


  • Nudging into M4 price bracket
  • Too big to be aggressively sporty
  • Still, that nose
Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

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