2016

Nam Wheels - - Nam Trader -

Child­hood mem­o­ries tend to be pre­cious and vivid, es­pe­cially for bur­geon­ing petrol heads.

Be­tween my mid to early eight­ies au­to­mo­tive rec­ol­lec­tions of colour­ful Mercedes’, a Se­ries 3 Landy, Diesel Golf and a Ven­ter trailer with brown vinyl top, there shim­mers my aunt's white 323i Coupé; com­plete with BMW six-pot hum.

It's one of the few ve­hi­cles that bring seller's re­morse to my un­cle's voice. “We should have kept that lit­tle Bee Emm… not only was it great to drive but it would also be worth some­thing to­day” he grum­bles while care­fully drop­ping into the pas­sen­ger seat of my Es­to­ril Blue BMW 440i Coupé press car.

Al­though this 440 could be seen as the 323's spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor, its en­counter with my carlov­ing un­cle is a pure but happy co­in­ci­dence. We have a meet­ing with ex­pert re­stor­ers for one of his lat­est project cars, and the 240kw BMW is per­fect for our lengthy drive down sweep­ing B-roads to a dis­tant town.

Af­ter an im­me­di­ate agree­ment that the tur­bopetrol six-cylin­der sounds as good as it should, we also con­cur some­thing else while rum­bling over sub­ur­ban streets – the 440i errs on the side of un­com­fort­able. Most likely the fault of “M-sport” good­ies fit­ted to this car... we both wish for a slightly more le­nient ride.

Most buy­ers would choose the op­tional ex­tra be­cause its harder sus­pen­sion and 19- inch wheels suit the pow­er­ful two-door, while all the cos­metic en­hance­ments in­cluded in this N$32,000 op­tion raise the coupé's street cred. Un­cle Dear­est is quite happy to learn that the pack­age is not manda­tory and smaller wheels are avail­able.

Shortly af­ter this con­clu­sion, we merge onto a dual-lane high­way and I fi­nally get the chance to open the taps com­pletely. With light­ning re­sponse and a be­witch­ing com­bi­na­tion of growls and fizzing, the 3-litre turbo-charged en­gine re­peat­edly chases 7,000rpm through its equally-ea­ger eight-speed gear­box.

120km/h comes up in no time and we both take de­light in slower traf­fic as it grants us more op­por­tu­ni­ties for re­peat­ing this or­ches­tral per­for­mance.

At some point we dis­cuss if the car is pos­si­bly over­pow­ered but as it cruises (or com­mutes) as calmly and qui­etly as you wish, that's sim­ply a mat­ter of opin­ion. A few things we es­tab­lish even be­fore reach­ing our des­ti­na­tion is that the mon­ster en­gine's torque is prob­a­bly its most im­pres­sive fea­ture, de­liv­ered through that su­perb eight-slot 'box in per­fect har­mony.

Top gear around 120km/h puts no more than 2,000rpm on the dial and thanks to 450Nm of torque, there's no real need for kick-downs.

The var­i­ous drive modes can be use­ful but we award its de­fault “Com­fort” the best bal­ance for ev­ery­day driv­ing. Sport Plus is great for hard and fidgety hooli­gan­ism while Eco Pro re­tards the 440i's spirit and con­sid­er­able thirst. Drive it nicely and you may dive un­der 10L/100km. Give it horns and you cer­tainly won't.

There's noth­ing like a few hours be­tween rusty wrecks and charm­ing clas­sics to re­set your per­cep­tion of con­tem­po­rary cars. Our hosts may not have been fans of mod­ern ve­hi­cles but did ac­knowl­edge that this new BMW 4-Se­ries pos­sesses a taste­ful mix of el­e­gant lines and sporty, in­ter­est­ing de­sign de­tails.

Its in­te­rior is just as stylish with rea­son­ably in­tu­itive con­trols and some won­der­ful BMW hall­marks. Bar­ring the strange gear lever and up­dated, so­phis­ti­cated idrive sys­tem, my un­cle ap­proved of the clas­sic BMW in­stru­ments and driver-fo­cused dash­board curve; which their white 323i also had. The slightly cramped rear quar­ters? “Typ­i­cal coupé trait.”

The sec­ond half of our jour­ney in­cluded an im­promptu stop at a wine farm where the 445L boot eas­ily swal­lowed al­most a dozen cases of the cel­lar’s finest. Other note­wor­thy statis­tics in­clude a 60L fuel tank, (lim­ited) 250km/h top speed and 0-100km/h in five sec­onds. Our GPS tests con­firm that.

Pric­ing starts at N$840,000 and seems ope­nended when you delve into BMW'S op­tions bin. I'd done a bit of re­search and my pas­sen­ger was in­ter­ested to hear about the many luxury and con­ve­nience gad­gets on of­fer. Even more so, a choice of 16 paint hues, 17 leather and 13 trim com­bi­na­tions or 14 wheel de­signs be­tween 17 and 19 inches.

By the time I pulled care­fully into the steep drive­way (4-Se­ries' only have 130mm ground clear­ance) we set­tled on the fi­nal state­ment for this re­view. Here goes: the BMW 440i Coupe is grace­ful and stylish, rel­a­tively ex­clu­sive and prac­ti­cal, quite fast and ex­cit­ing but too hard with the M-pack. And if you have one, don't sell it af­ter a few years! BMW Coupé

Stylish, U pow­er­ful and so­phis­ti­cated - the BMW 440i made us nos­tal­gic...

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