Trying to please everyone will, more often than not, leave someone involved wanting more.
But BMW is attempting to do just that with its Sports Activity Coupes, which are mixes between — you guessed it — coupes and Sports Utility Vehicles.
In this case, we take a look at the X4 that, for the 2017 model year, gets a major upgrade under the hood that should definitely be pleasing to everyone.
But does that mean the X4M40i can be all things to all people?
The X4M40i, the new top-rung trim for the model, comes with an impressive engine that is powerful and emits a throaty rumble under acceleration — especially in Sport mode. That engine: BMW’s new 3.0-litre M Performance TwinPower Turbo inline six-cylinder, good for 355 horsepower and 343 lbs-ft of torque.
Moving all that power to the pavement is an eight-speed Steptronic Sports automatic transmission, which comes standard with Launch Control. It’s safe to say it didn’t disappoint, with smooth and barely noticeable gear changes — even under hard acceleration.
The X4M40i also gets a specially tuned sport suspension and the standard xDrive all-wheel drive system also received some modifications in the X4M40i, routing more power to the rear wheels under normal conditions. But what makes the X4M40i unique from other X4 trims — and indeed gets the blood pumping behind the wheel — is that M Performance engine.
Engine settings are controlled via a centre console button next to the gearshift. The default mode is comfort, and even in that setting, the X4 is quite fun to boot around town. But as you approach the open road, slipping into Sport mode (there’s also a Sport + setting) unleashes the X4’s inner beast. If you want to be frugal on fuel, however, there’s ECO PRO mode, which BMW says will result in a 20-per-cent reduction in fuel consumption.
Speaking of fuel, the X4M40i is rated at 12.8 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 9.5 L/100 km on the highway, for a combined 11.3 L/100 km. In a week where I tried to mix up the settings between three drive modes and in a variety of driving conditions, I achieved a rating of 12 L/100km.
Part of the attraction for many sports cars is the engine’s burble. In that regard, the X4M40i delivers. BMW says the sound is the result of some fancy engineering, but whatever is in there, the result is a sound that is surpassed in smiles produced only by the engine’s performance.
While engineers make the exhaust sound great, designers made sure the system also looked the part. There are two exhaust pipes — one on either side of the back end — finished in Black Chrome. It’s one of the many unique features that make the X4M40i stand out against other X4s, including a unique Long Beach Blue exterior color, and Ferric Gray metallic accents on the side mirrors as well as the vertical slats of the signature kidney grille.
While those touches give the X4M40i a distinctive look, the X4 model itself is already one that stands out in the crowd — especially when viewed in profile and from the rear. The sloping roofline is a distinguishing look shared with the larger X6.
From the rear, the tall back end features LED taillights and an exhaust-pipe encompassing diffuser that contrasts well with the blue exterior colour on our tester.
That sloping roofline results in a rather large tailgate, but it’s powered so there’s no heavy lifting required. When opened, it allows easy access to a cargo area that, even with a stroller, has room left over for groceries and some other items. While it has about 10 cubic feet less space than the X3 (27.6 vs. 17.7), the X4 can still be a useful family hauler. Keep in mind, however, that the sloped roofline means some taller items might not fit back there.
There’s room for five passengers in a comfortable and well-appointed interior — although fitting two larger adults in the back seat with a car seat installed is a tight squeeze. And the sloped roof has another drawback: Taller rear occupants will be hitting the ceiling.
Overall, the interior design is quite good, with comfortable seating — especially the sports seats up front — and the driver is privy to excellent lines of sight thanks to the seat’s position.
The setup for the radio/infotainment system is fairly standard for what you’d expect from BMW. The one issue I had with the interior was actually the size of the infotainment screen. Given the proliferation of larger screens these days, I was expecting something a little larger. That being said, the screen is clear and easy on the eyes, much like the heads up display, which is a feature I would like to see on more and more vehicles in all segments.
Operation of the infotainment system through the iDrive controller becomes second nature after a few days with the vehicle.
Driving the X4M40i is an enjoyable experience given the engine’s performance and the way the vehicle’s transmission and suspension are set up. Whether under more mundane city driving or highway cruising, the X4M40i handles itself admirably.
And while it still may not be all things to all people — but what is, really? — the X4M40i comes close with its combination of performance, looks, comfort and utility.
2017 BMW X4 M40i
Price as tested: $76,290.00
Configuration: front engine/all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline six cylinder / 8-Speed Steptronic sports automatic with paddle shifters
Power/torque: 355 horsepower/ 343 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): premium (67 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 11.3 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 12 L/100 km
Warranties: 4-years/80,000 km (basic)
- The potent engine puts a smile on your face
- The exhaust note is music to one’s ears
- Sport-tuned suspension
- The X4’s styling will not be for everyone
- Small infotainment screen
- Low headroom because of sloped roof can be a problem for taller passengers