In 2008 BMW redefined the meaning of a coupe, sedan, and sport utility vehicle (SUV) when it introduced the X6 sport activity coupe (pronounced coup-ee). Hoping to appeal to buyers with a need for utility as well as speed, apparently, the gamble paid off because BMW added the new X4, a smaller version of the X6, to the segment last year. I recently drove the sporty 2017 X4 M40i trim level for Latino Traffic Report and found it to be the perfect vehicle for a road trip.
Larger than a sedan but smaller than an SUV, it offers the best attributes of both—positioning the driver higher in the driver’s seat for a better vantage while handling more like a sports car than an SUV. Its size also expanded the cargo room to 49.4 cubic feet with the second-row seat folded flat for added versatility.
“We started the segment in 2008 with the X6 Sports Activity Coupe, a unique design concept and driving dynamics never seen before, ideal for people who are searching for the added space and practicality of an SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle, i.e. X3, X5) but also crave the aesthetics and dynamic driving experience of a coupe,” explains Hector Arellano-Belloc, BMW product and technology spokesperson. “Like its larger sibling, the BMW X6, the X4 offers the unique blend of style, driving dynamics and all-road capability that can only be offered by a BMW Sports Activity Coupe.”
The M performance classification on the test model brought sport performance specifications starting with the new TwinPower Turbo inline six-cylinder gasoline engine that delivered 355 horsepower and a maximum torque of 343 lb.–ft. It’s matched to an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission with paddle shifters on the steering wheel for added sportiness. This combination gives the X4 M40i a best-in-class zero–60 miles per hour acceleration of 4.7 seconds.
M performance also added suspension technology that included four driving modes, Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+, for added performance. Along the drive, I tested all four and found that the Sport+ really boosted power and steering tightness along curvy roads. Though not as much fun, the Eco Pro mode did help make the X4 M40i more fuel efficient, a rare attribute for a performance vehicle. At the end of a weeklong test drive, I averaged 22.5 miles per gallon (mpg) above the EPA estimated average fuel economy of 21 mpg.
The X4 M40i matched a handsome exterior with an elegant interior that included Nevada leather seating, real wood trim, the Harman Kardon surround sound stereo system, a moonroof, a leather steering wheel, keyless entry with a push button start, and a one-year subscription to satellite radio. The stereo system even included a CD-player.
The X4 M40i that I tested did come up a little short on safety features, e.g. it lacked a blind spot monitor. I also found it odd that a rearview camera, something many premium brands include as standard, cost an additional $400.
The X4 M40i did include intelligent BMW xDrive all-wheel drive that improved traction, especially in rainy conditions, Park Distance Control parking sensors in the front and rear, and Intelligent Emergency Call that can be engaged manually or automatically in an emergency.
Pricing for the 2017 X4 starts at $46,550 including destination fees. The test model included several optional packages, like the Cold Weather Package ($950) that added a heated steering wheel and heated seats in the front and back, and the Technology Package ($2,750) that added navigation, a head-up display, and BMW Online and Apps. Even the distinctive exterior shade of Melbourne Red Metallic cost $700 extra. This brought the as-tested pricing for the 2017 X4 M40i to $67,495.
Sí: Great styling, performance, and versatility for a performance vehicle.
No: Packages that add features normally found on a premium vehicle, like navigation and a back-up camera, escalate pricing dramatically.