Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: September 12, 2016
We all have that friend, the one who sold their dream car, their prized possession the second they got hitched. We all feel sorry for them – why should enthusiasts have to compromise? But buying cars isn’t always an emotional one, it's a practical one too. Spouses don’t always appreciate having stiff necks and sore buttocks from your riced up S2000 or 370Z, and demand you to “plan for the future” and buy something with four-seats, five-star safety crash tests, and a decent ride height, something like an SUV.
But what about the enthusiast? Why settle for a mundane run-of-the-mill SUV when you can have a sporty, great looking, and practical vehicle? That’s what BMW is aiming for with their new X4 M40i.
It may sound like a mouthful of alphabet soup, but this is the M Performance version of their X4 Sport Activity Coupe, which in its structure is an X3 with a sloped roof and less rear headroom. Think of it like the byproduct of a X3 and 3 Series GT mate session. It looks good, though not as mature and rigid as the X3, but anything draped in this polarizing Long Beach Blue would look downright phenomenal, even a Pontiac Aztek (well, maybe).
The interior is just as cozy and refined. The X4 M40i comes with the holy grail M steering wheel that we have come to know and love, and also an integrated display unit in the dashboard that appears flush and fluid – sure beats the pop-out ones in rivaling Mercedes-Benz products. The seats aren’t X5 soft but provide more than enough lumbar and neck support for the long haul.
Six-footers sitting in the back may find headroom unacceptable, but anyone hovering below that height will have no problems cozying in. Legroom is just as generous as the X3 and the trunk space, though diminished a little, is still more than enough for the weekend baggage.
BMW has also made sure to let passengers and bystanders know that this isn’t your standard BMW, so they’ve done what they do best – plaster M badges everywhere they see fit: fenders, door sills, dead pedal, steering wheel, gear shifter, etc.
The X4 M40i may have the ride height and stature of a soccer mom’s haulmobile, but don’t underestimate this crossover. Those extra M badges mean this ute has been geared towards high performance driving. Under the hood BMW has reworked the classic N55 single-turbo straight-six engine (same one in the M2) with parts from the M3 for a motivational output of 355-hp and 343 lb-ft of torque. That means 0-100 km/h in 4.9 seconds, the same as the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 and half a second quicker than the Porsche Macan S.
BMW has also reworked the chassis with a forged steel crankshaft, increased camber on the front axle, stiffer springs, reinforced stabilizers on both axles, and a re-calibrated all-wheel drive system to provide more rear-biased power distribution. The steering has also been kicked up a notch, along with the 8-speed transmission.
What’s it like to drive? Well it’s safe to say that BMW has nailed the compromise.When cruising through town at city speeds in Comfort Mode, the suspension is soft and compliant. Harsh vibrations are muted and only the deepest of potholes will give the chassis a slight shake-n-bake. When stiffened up in Sport Mode, the X4 M40i comes alive and plays a convincing “drives-like-a-car” act.
The suspension soldiers up and the X4 M40i hunkers down on corners just like a 340i on stilts. Bring speed into a corner and the front nose eagerly caresses the tarmac while the rear gleefully kicks wide. While it can’t escape its top-heavy lean, the X4 tucks in neatly and lets the rear-biased AWD system take effect.
It’s not short on power either. Put the pedal to the metal and the straight six propels you with kick-in-the-back thrust. Not only is it quick but those 20-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sports also hang on like white on rice, making this 1,921 kg crossover pretty fun to fling and thrash around corners.
BMW has also modified the exhaust system (along with black exhaust tips) to resonate and pop like an M Performance model should. That means it pops and bangs every time you lift off the throttle, and it releases a menacing (DCT-like) fart on upshifts. It sounds just like an M235i to be honest, which is more than we could ever ask for.
While it may be less focused than its hardcore brothers, the X5 M and X6 M, the X4 M40i serves as a delightful middle ground for spouses and children with a compliant ride, looks that are easy on the eyes, and enough utility and practicality to serve every daily errand. While adults may not appreciate the lack of rear headroom, the elevated driving position, expansive glass, and airy cabin keep the thoughts of claustrophobia at bay.
The only flaw I found with the X4 M40i was the price tag. The starting price is $60,700 and with options all in, our tester rang in at $73,300 before taxes and fees. That’s $12,000 more than the base 28i model (the 35i has been discontinued for 2017) – you’re going to have one hell of a conversation to have with your accountant. $70,000 can buy you a base BMW X5 that has a bigger boot and more legroom, you can also buy a base Range Rover Sport but admittedly, none of these will buy you this BMW’s winning compromise of sport and utility.
The BMW X4 M40i may not be the best driver’s SUV, or the most practical SUV, or even the most affordable SUV, but it is one of the more compelling examples that combines every aspect that buyers look for into one appealing package.
型号 Model: 2017 BMW X4 M40i
顏色 Paint Type: Long Beach Blue
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $60,700
試車售價 Price as Tested: $73,300
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,810
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,671 / 1,881 / 1,624
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,921
引擎 Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six
最大馬力 Horsepower: 355 hp @ 5,800 - 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 343 lb-ft @ 1,200 - 5,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 12.8 / 9.5 / 11.3
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.0
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sports; Front 245/40 R20; Rear 275/35 R20