2019 BMW X4 M40i first drive review: the evolving SUV coupe Page 2

The X4 M40i's wonderful inline-6 cranks out 355 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds, but the passing oomph in the 50-70-mph range is most impressive.

The base X4 xDrive30i is propelled by a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. It is more than adequate for a vehicle of this size.

With either engine, the only transmission is an 8-speed automatic and the standard top speed of both vehicles is an electronically limited 130 mph. X4 M40i buyers can choose higher-speed-rated tires that permit a 155-mph top speed. EPA fuel economy numbers are not yet available for either configuration.

2019 BMW X4

2019 BMW X4

The X4 M40i rolls on 19-, 20-, or 21-inch wheels, and my test car’s 21-inch wheels were wrapped in 245/40R21 front and 275/35R21 rear tires that can come from any of several of BMW’s tire suppliers.

With the 21s, the X4 demonstrated impressive grip and excellent turn-in response. Combined with BMW's deft suspension tuning, handling in the curves far exceeds anything that seemed possible for a tall SUV-like vehicle until very recently. Even more surprisingly, the X4's ride is as comfortable as its handling is sharp.

CHECK OUT: 2018 BMW M5 video road (and track) test

Like the i-Pace, the X4 proved to be up the to task of tackling mountain roads. Charging into tight corners, the X4 stops its hefty 4,323-pound curb weight effortlessly, with unbranded four-piston front calipers and two-piston rears. Pedal effort is light.

It helps BMW’s cause that the high seating position that attracted some drivers to SUVs is gradually settling a little closer to the lower position of cars, as SUVs increasingly embrace the longer-lower-wider trend that cars followed when they switched to unibodies in the 1960s. Crossovers like the X4 share the unibody construction of cars.

2019 BMW X4

2019 BMW X4

2019 BMW X4

2019 BMW X4

2019 BMW X4

2019 BMW X4

An evolving coupe shape

The 2019 X4 stretches three inches longer than the outgoing model, with an extra 2.1 inches of wheelbase and 1.4 inches of width. The coupe-like roof is only a tenth of an inch lower, but the lengthening and widening visually lowers the car more than that.

The X4’s sheet metal is crisply modern, with what BMW terms “clean surfacing.” This is a big change from the days of overwrought “flame surfacing,” and BMW continues to improve its styling as the previous design language recedes in the rearview mirror.

ALSO SEE: 2019 Volvo V60 first drive review: a matter of inches

The X4 is especially improved, as BMW grapples with what, exactly, it means for a four-door crossover SUV to be called a coupe. It was born from its X3 crossover sibling and BMW identifies it as a coupe with the requisite fast roofline. With this latest design, the X4 is making progress toward conventional standards of beauty for a coupe.

The grille and front end present a pleasing face to the world, and the sides have some nice detailing for character despite the slab sides dictated by the pursuit of aerodynamics; the X4 sports a 0.30 coefficient of drag. The hatchback’s profile remains vaguely cetacean, though not as much so as its predecessor and the larger X6.

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