2016 BMW X4 M40i first drive review Page 2

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To help cut through all the clutter, we’re going to venture a guess at where the new X4 M40i fits into the market for Americans: It’s the impulse buy of the automaker’s compact crossover lineup. The X4 M40i definitely pulls its weight as a driveway trophy, and a vehicle that will stand out in a sea of luxury vehicles and BMWs.

Smart interior packaging

That said, the X4 has some smart packaging. Despite its gracefully arched roofline—one which visually tapers inward a bit, it manages impressive back-seat space. I’m 6’-6”, and the headliner was just grazing the top of my head in back. Back-seat legroom is on the tight side, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the X4 is essentially compact-sized by North American length and width standards. And the front seats are seriously supportive and comfortable—true sport seats, with adjustable bolsters and thigh extensions for taller drivers.

The M40i starts at $58,795, although there are several significant packages—a Cold Weather Package, Driver Assistance Plus (active blind spot detection, surround view), Lighting Package (adaptive LED lamps, automatic high beams), and a Technology Package (navigation, head-up display, real-time traffic, and more) that can add quite a bit to the bottom line. On an a la carte basis you can opt for upgraded wheels, a couple of different trims, and the navigation, surround view, and active cruise control systems. It’s possible to add more than $10k.

The X4 M40i earns EPA ratings of 18 mpg city, 25 highway (21 combined)—definitely lower than the 19/27 mpg (22 combined) ratings of the mainstream X4 xDrive35i version. The M40i includes engine stop/start, although it’s a particularly noticeable system, with a marked pause, vibration, and starter sound as it activates.

A formula unrivaled—within BMW or elsewhere

BMW officials point out that the M40i badge and kit is exclusive, among crossovers, to the X4; you won’t find this exact build combination in any X3. Although if you believe what’s been reported by some BMW forums, an equivalent X3 M40i model is due for 2017—as well as, eventually X3 M and X4 M models.

Since the X4 M40i is a special performance-oriented build of a vehicle that’s already a niche variant, the competitive set here isn’t all that clearly defined (perhaps the Audi SQ5, the Infiniti QX50, and the Acura RLX among others). However when the Jaguar F-Pace and the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe arrive sometime later in the year, it’s only time before a performance-tuned versions of those arrive; and then it’s really game on.

2016 BMW X4 M40i - First Drive

2016 BMW X4 M40i - First Drive

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It’s hard to say that the X4 M40i makes a lot of sense—get the X3, or the 3-Series Active Tourer wagon for that—but within BMW’s lineup it earns its place as an interesting confluence of design and performance.

Should you buy it, or one of those more rational models? If you’re hanging on that question at all, the answer’s probably the latter.

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