Here’s a stylish, beguiling and very quick performance SUV to rival the Porsche Macan GTS. But Porsche is going to win by a walkover.
This isn’t to say that BMW is standing in the surf, ordering the waves to roll backward. The X4 is a valiant, if misguided effort, in injecting some sportiness into a very niche vehicle. The X6 M, a “full” M Division offering, does a decent job at this: it’s quick like a rocket-assisted hippopotamus, and uses some black magic to stay planted. The X4 M40i, a less-full-blown M Performance model, is less dramatic, and less compelling.
So, what do you (not) get? A version of the 3.0-litre unit from the X4 xDrive35i that’s been reworked for 355bhp and 343lb ft, the latter from just 1350rpm. A 4.9-second sprint time. A tuned gearbox and a 4×4 system with a stronger bias towards the rear wheels. And a set of figures which, on paper, puts it a little ahead of the Macan.
If you compare it to most vehicles in the class, it’s sportier to drive. What constitutes its class, however, can be debated.
Let’s say the V6 AWD versions of the: Infiniti QX50, Acura RDX, Volvo XC60 and Mercedes GLC. Compared to them, if we were looking for the sportiest and most fun to drive, we’d take this. Yes, you feel that top-heavier tipiness that comes when you raise the roof and the center of gravity compared to the sedan, coupe and wagon version, but you simply adjust your internal calibrations to account for body roll and some small amount of plow, and you press on.
The M Performance suspension trim means it gets stiffer springs and a stiffer setting on the electronically controlled shocks, as well as a more precision-oriented tune on the variable-ratio steering. And the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires held on longer than we would have thought they would before gradually slipping. We drove it around the Monterey hill country, pushed it hard and had a good time. It wasn’t bad at all. It was, by the standards of any of the competition, fun. Acceleration is whippingly fast for something that weighs 4,235 pounds, and remember this is a body style that accepts a mountain bike in the back with the front tire still on.