I knew writing this article would give me mixed emotions. The X4 is, shall we say, a confusing vehicle that doesn’t really fit too many norms. To be honest I’m having trouble deciding where to start.
I’ll first try to classify it as best I can. The X4 is a coupe version of the compact X3 SUV. The idea is to take the SUV (or crossover or sports activity vehicle or whichever moniker you prefer because they all apply) and give it a sportier look by sloping the roof. The thinking is that it will appeal to folks who want or need the utility of an SUV but also want something sporty. Mercedes-Benz has also been offering “coupe” SUVs so this is not unique to BMW.
For 2019 BMW has released the second generation of the X4 with a number of improvements and refinements. The vehicle is now a bit longer (81mm), wider (31mm) and lower (3mm). New front and rear facias differentiate the 2019 model significantly compared to its predecessor. Looks are obviously a subjective term but overall this one is a bit of an oddball. The front end is a bit bubbly for me and the coupe silhouette doesn’t translate as seamlessly as in the case of the larger X6 for example. The highlight is the rear end which stands out quite a bit compared to other BMW models. The thin taillights that wrap around the body are quite elegant and save what would be an otherwise questionable design.
The interior of the X4 M40i is another story altogether. The black Vemasca leather sport seats with red stitching are comfortable, firm and smell great. The red stitching makes it way onto most cockpit surfaces and combined with the brushed aluminum trim, black piano finishing and M Sport logo makes for a decidedly special feel.
The test vehicle had the optional Premium Package Enhanced ($5,500) which features heads-up display, a Harman Kardon sound system, wireless charging, a full digital instrument cluster, rear heated seats, comfort access and a universal remote control. For the first time ever, I was able to make use of wireless charging on a vehicle because I now have a phone that supports it. It’s very handy and also serves to hide the phone away in an enclosed space for safety. Interior space is surprisingly good (even in the rear given the sloped roof) and the rear seats can be folded down for larger items.
BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is one of the few which uses a dial on the lower center console. It’s the perfect place to put the control unit because it allows the driver’s eyes to remain forward rather than looking down and refocusing on a touch screen. The display is high enough on the dash so that it can be glanced at with minimal interruption in driving concentration. The menus themselves are adequate but I’d like to see a reduction in the number of submenus and therefore the overall complexity of the system. Still, iDrive remains one of the better systems on the market to date.
Under the hood is there the X4 M40i will close the deal for most buyers. The 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder turbocharged motor has a maximum output of 355 hp and peak torque of 365 lb-ft which propels the crossover from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds via the eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission. If the numbers don’t mean anything to you, I can say that it’s just freaking fast in a straight line. You also get M Sport brakes, M Sport lightweight alloy wheels, M Sport differential, launch control, electronic dampers, and an adaptive suspension. Maybe the best part of the whole experience is the sound. The flap-controlled M sports exhaust system can be tamed or let lose depending on the drive mode selected. It’s trapezoidal tailpipes looks great and the popping noise from small backfires at high RPMs is highly addictive.
In Sport mode the X4 really expresses its inner sports car and begs to be let loose. There is a noticeable difference in not just the sound but overall steering and handling. It takes corners unlike any SUV or crossover I’ve driven and will yield endless fun for your lead foot.
If you don’t need all that extra power under the hood, the four-cylinder in the xDrive30i makes a decent 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. You won’t have all the M Sport items listed above but it should still fit the bill for most people’s needs.
Starting at $66,000, with the Premium Package enhanced, Advanced Driver Assistance Package ($2,900), Vemasca leather ($1,500), metallic paint ($895), and a ski bag ($395) the tester came out to $77,145 before transport.
The X4 M40i was fun as heck to drive and fills a small niche. Its steep price, odd shape and limited extra practicality will likely make many think twice however.