Some people aren’t even aware that the BMW X4 exists. And I can’t really blame them: the relatively new kid on the block launched in 2014 and often gets lost in the shuffle between the X3 and bigger brother X5. Perhaps the Sports Activity Coupé will turn a few additional heads as it enters its second generation offering both an xDrive30i and M40i M Performance variant, the latter which I spent a few days in. Let’s dive into what’s changed.
Given current trends, it’s not much of a surprise that the vehicle has gotten larger. The length is increased by 81 millimetres and width 37 millimetres, however the height is 3 millimetres lower to accentuate the SAC’s powerful silhouette. The Coupé part of the name is derived from the sharp rear window angle and short front and rear overhangs reminiscent of a sports car, but with the larger proportions it’s easy to see why some affectionately refer to the X4 as “turtle-shaped.”
All lighting on the model is now LED. The M40i receives distinctive design flourishes to stand apart, like a more aggressive front fascia boasting big air intakes, contrasting Cerium Grey mirror caps, aerodynamic side skirts and integrated black rear bumper diffuser. Exclusive Sunstone metallic paint and 21-inch alloy wheels are optional.
The performance theme continues in the cabin where occupants will find special bolstered seating, unique steering wheel, anthracite headliner, and M badging, pedals and driver’s footrest. Customers also have the choice of customizing the leather upholstery colour combinations (Ivory White/Black, Fiona Red/Black or Tartufo/Black).
The outgoing vehicle was already quite generous in terms of interior space, and the replacement further increases legroom 27 millimetres for rear passengers. There’s a total of 525 litres of storage space behind the back bench, which can fold down opening up an extra 905 litres — ample room for things such as recreational equipment or children-related cargo.
Onto the fun stuff. Underneath the M40i’s hood is a 3.0-litre TwinPower Turbo inline six engine pumping out 355 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque, mated to an eight-speed Steptronic transmission. Pressing the engine start button, I was greeted with the signature RPM blip and was glad to hear the standard M sports exhaust system wasn’t dumbed down on the crossover. The sound coming out of the dual trapezoidal pipes is glorious anytime the throttle is depressed.
Thanks to the rear wheel-biased xDrive and built-in differential, the M40i handles a lot better than expected. Driving on a narrow backroad, I threw the vehicle around a tight roundabout and there was minimal body roll. I almost forgot I was in an X4 and not an M4. OK that might be a little bit of a stretch, however the near 50-50 weight distribution and uprated suspension and brakes really do help transform the feel of the 1,961-kilogram SAC. Engineers put it on a weight loss program using more aluminum components and managed to reduce aerodynamic drag by 10 per cent.
Prices for the 2019 BMW X4 M40i start at $66,000 MSRP. The one I tested included the Premium Package Enhanced (+$5,550) bundling heated seats, ambient lighting, head-up display, SiriusXM radio, Harmon Kardon stereo; Assistant Driver Assistance Package (+$2,900) adding in radar cruise control, lane keep assist, cross-traffic alert, etc.; and metallic paint as well as Vernasca leather surfaces bringing the total figure up to $77,145 out the door.