In what may be a "modern-day classic" configuration, the 2018 BMW 440i's 320-hp turbocharged inline 6-cyl. is can be paired with a 6-speed manual transmission. (Lindsay Brooke).

What we're driving: BMW 440i

What We’re Driving” is Automotive Engineering's series of quick-strike vehicle reviews.

When reviewing a new BMW, it’s important to note the car’s most vital attribute first. And that would be…powertrain performance? Steering precision? Chassis reflexes? The optional ($1700) M Sport brakes? While all are nearly ideal, they’re not it.

In the case of the Sunset Orange 440i I tested during the Michigan winter, the Bimmer’s greatest attribute is its heated front seats. Their performance is outstanding, with three warmth levels to select at the push of a button. This is not insignificant for drivers in the upper Midwest. My buns and back tell me the seats deliver the fastest “time-to-toasty” heat-up, from stone cold, of any I can recall. Trimmed in leather, the heated seats are part of a $2,000 Premium Package that includes navigation.

Based on BMW’s widely benchmarked 3-Series architecture, the 4-Series (F32) was created in 2013 to segregate the 2-door coupe and convertible into separate nameplate. A 4-door variant has since been added. Same sausage in a premium, higher-profit wrapper.

For 2018, the 4’s steering response and suspension damping are sharpened, the navi interface is a bit more straightforward with six configurable icons, and there are new head- and taillamps.

Perfectly paired with the 320-hp (239-kW) turbocharged 3.0-L inline-6 is ZF’s 6-speed manual (the S6-37) gearbox, an increasingly rare combination even in a BMW—and still a joy to operate. Less than perfect is some vestigial BMW weirdness—when you shut off the ignition and open the door to exit, the audio system remains ‘on’ until you hit the door lock.  

--Lindsay Brooke

2018 BMW 440i

Base price:         $49,700

As tested:           $58,295

Highs:                  Powertrain, braking, steering, seat heaters! 

Lows:                   Some control interfaces remain BMW-weird                  

The takeaway:   What’s not to love except the package pricing?

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