2017 BMW X4 M40i Review

An ugly duckling with jet propulsion


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Gobs of power, unearthly performance for a crososver, built like a bank vault, well-crafted interior.
Negatives: Looks positively hideous, way too heavy, limited room in the second row and in the cargo section, hugely impractical.
Bottom Line: It's a car that makes no sense and pretty much doesn't fit in any segment that we can think of, but it's exhilarating to drive thanks to excellent chassis, power and brakes. If you don't give a lick about what people think, and you don't have much need for practical space but you want exclusivity and machismo, this is your odd crossover of choice. We don't know who would buy this, but this powerhouse crossover ticks boxes for some folks who want BMW M-like power and unique looks.
 View Our 2017 BMW X4 Overview
The BMW X4 crossover emerged about five years after its bigger and similarly shaped X6 crossover brother. Its subsequent production isn't random. BMW's foray into uniquely shaped crossovers was very intentional, if a bit odd. The crossover and luxury crossover segments were (and are) hot, and BMW sought to capitalize on that fact by taking the X5 platform and developing the X6, and later adding the X4 to the X3 platform.

The X4 M40i is the ultimate expression of the X4, using BMW Motorsport components without giving it the full-fledged M-treatment like the X6 M. The result actually gives a bit of purpose to the small-ish X4 crossover that doesn't seem to present any real reason for existence aside from growing BMW's share of the luxury crossover pie. We drove this high-sitting, high-powered crossover for a week to see what it was all about. Read on for our detailed review.
 

Driving Experience

8.8

 

The X4 M40i is really a driver's vehicle more than anything else, and the suspension and power upgrades are purposeful. Sure, the vehicle makes no sense at all, but that doesn't mean it isn't a total hoot to drive. It's one crossover that can get you into serious trouble with the law in a hurry.

Ride Quality: The suspension setup is firm and sporty, and the X4 M40i errs in favor of the enthusiast. You feel every bump and gap, and the short wheelbase, low profile tires and big 20" wheels certainly don't help.

Acceleration: 0-60 in 4.4 seconds for a vehicle this heavy is shocking. It's faster than you expect, and the rapid shift Sport Automatic transmission works very well. Throttle response is also immediate.

Braking: Seriously strong brakes bring this beast to a halt quickly with no noticeable fade and good progression.

Steering: Light but quick and on center. Not much feedback, but it's pretty precise.

Handling: This tall-ish crossover corners very flat, and it's balanced, as well. It's truly surprising how well this thing takes on the curves.

Technology

7

 

Modern BMW's are filled with a slew of technology via their iDrive system, and it's certainly improved over the years. In its current iteration, it's stunning to look at and filled with myriad customization options, but it's not truly utilitarian.

Infotainment System: The screen is bright and legible with excellent graphics. Actuation and menu selection is good, but there are quite a few layers to get through. We experienced some hiccups while streaming music, but it wasn't unmanageable.

Controls: BMW's controls are excellent. From climate controls to audio and multimedia, everything is easy to understand and within reach. We do, however, wish for steering wheel audio forward and reverse track controls.

Bluetooth Pairing: Easy pairing with our Apple iPhone.

Voice Call Quality: The X4 M40i has great phone call transmission and sound.

Styling

4.5

 

In M40i trim with upgraded and aggressive wheels, exterior trim upgrades and M-badging, the X4 looks better but not good. It's the stubby, fastback shape with a pigg-ish front end that kill the X4's chances at a beauty pageant run.

Front: Even though the M40i trim gives the fascia bigger intakes and a more prominent bumper, it doesn't take the look into the realm of attractive. It's dramatic, yes. Fetching it is not.

Rear: The X4 M40's rear is subtly different via round tailpipes at each corner and a body-colored faux diffuser. It's thick and chunky but less offensive than the front end.

Profile: Big wheels and dramatic body creases can't detract from the overall awkward profile that shows a steeply raked rear greenhouse and a bit of an unfinished look in terms of length.

Cabin: Cabin styling is attractive in current BMW style with clean lines, attractive materials and solid construction.

Comfort

6.8

 

The X4’s bodacious body shape exacts a toll in interior space, and the view out the rear is but a narrow slit. Wide doorsills and a low seating position make the act of planting your butt in the driver’s seat a somewhat awkward drop. Meanwhile, rear-seat riders sometimes bang their noggins while getting in, although once inside, headroom is adequate for a six-footer. So, too, is rear legroom, but footroom is tight and the seat cushion is low.

Front Seats: Great front seats with high levels of comfort, adjustability and bolstering. We love BMW's extendable thigh bolsters in their Sport seats that provide pressure relief on longer drives.

Rear Seats: Comfortable but short on headroom and legroom due to the abbreviated length.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Solidly built and quiet with only the aggressive motor sounds piped in for aurual delight.

Visibility: Good forward and side visibility, but the mail slot of a rear window and large pillars make backward sightlines severly compromised. The rear and surround view cameras are imperative.

Climate: The system is fast with heating and cooling and provides excellent levels of comfort.

Safety

5

 

The X4 M40i nor the standard X4 x28i have not been tested by the IIHS or the NHTSA.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: Head Protection System (HPS), front and rear, Active Front Headrests, Impact sensor that activates Battery Safety Terminal disconnect of alternator, fuel pump and starter from battery; automatically unlocks doors; and turns on hazard and interior lights.

Optional Tech: Rearview camera, Surround View camera.

Storage/Cargo

6.5

 

There's not much to speak of here since the X4 is an abbreviated version of the X3 and loses the headroom and cargo space as a result. Sure, it's usable but can't go beyond daily duties into the realm of vacation-ready.

Storage Space: There are decent spaces for small items such as the front tray and the armrest, but they are on the shallow side.

Cargo Room: There are a mere 18 cubic feet in the back with the seats up, about as much as a mid-size sedan.

Fuel Economy

6.3

 

You don't buy this car because you want to save money on gas. It takes premium fuel and can get pretty thirsty when you drive it the way it was meant to be driven.

Observed: 19.2 mpg

Distance Driven: 257 miles

Driving Factors: We drove it in Sport mode most of the time, in a combination of urban and highway conditions.

Audio

8.2

 

The upgraded Harman Kardon audio system is a good one but not great. We enjoyed listening to it, but we can't help but think the abbreviated cabin and steeply sloped rear glass might not be able to exploit the system's capabilities. Sound was crisp and clear but didn't sound as full as we would've liked. It's good that the system comes standard on this top trim X4.



Final Thoughts

There are really only a couple of reasons to buy the X4 M40i. It's fast and thrilling and pretty different from what's available out there in terms of crossovers. Only the Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC43 Coupe is in the same territory in terms of looks and speed. The price tag is steep when you option it out, and the X4 can't really be a daily driver for someone who has friends or family with grown kids. It's just not practical enough inside in terms of space. Potential buyers will be happy with the performance, the badge and the build quality but will certainly have to compromise when it comes to space, efficiency and objective beauty.
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