“Cool – does it come as an AWD wagon?” asked my dad, when I showed him the new BMW M2.
He likes the M2, but likes the idea of an AWD M2 wagon even better. Dad wishes every sports car came in an AWD wagon, for his skis, and February commute, and stuff like that.
“No,” I replied.
“Well, sort of, actually.”
The X4 M40i is about as close as dad might get to the AWD BMW M2 wagon that BMW won’t build for him.
Oh, so many little utility vehicle niches to fill. But fill them BMW will, and the X4 xDrive M40i is one brightly burning example of the trend. The standard X4 is a sort of high-style alternative to the X3, set apart by a sloping rear roofline, which gives it a coupe-cum-fastback shape and calls to mind a more elegant and swoopy alternative to a typical crossover. So, the X4, among other things, is a styling statement, and a way for BMW to put some of the X6’s crossover-coupe design into the smaller side of the utility vehicle spectrum.
And, for Papa Pritchard, in M40i trim, the X4 is also a hot-rod luxury wagon-ish thing. A lifted, high-performance hatchback. A BMW M2-powered slope-back rocket-ute based on the 3 Series. Or, in simpler terms, BMW’s $61,000 alternative to such competitors as the Porsche Macan S ($59,000) or GTS ($73,000), and the Audi SQ5 ($58,000).
If a desire for an all-season performance machine has you itching like a tweed bathrobe, and if you can’t decide between a sedan, a wagon or a hatchback or a coupe, and if you value a healthy dose of go-fast and stick-to-the-road-even-in-crappy-weather goodness, the X4 M40i is one way to scratch the itch.
On board, it’s the typical BMW driving environment. High-tech blended with luxury touches. A familiar instrument cluster, controls, consoles and central display, with some updated graphics and functions this time round. It’s less formal-looking and more energetic an environment than a comparable Benz, slightly less futuristic and more luxury-conventional than the comparable Audi, and more rich with detail and high-tech doodads and flair than the Porsche Macan S.
Functionally, the sloping rear roofline limits the height of transportable cargo at the rear of the X4, though the cargo hold is wide, and near-flat-folding seats add flexibility as needed. Rear seats see occupants sit deep within the cabin, and headroom is surprisingly decent beneath the aggressively swoopy roof-dome, as is legroom. Front seats are firmly comfortable, accommodating, and hug your man-lats just perfectly, if you have them.
The X4 M340i achieves ignition with a blurt, then a raspy purr that settles into a quivering idle, and then into a deep hum. As modern turbo engines do, this 3L straight-six puts a mountain of torque at the tips of your toes. With 349 lb-ft available from just off idle, oozing through traffic requires little throttle input, and even fewer revs. Without the oft-present exhaust tone seeping gently into the cabin, you’d hardly notice it shifting gears, or working very hard at all, in around-town driving.
Performance, honest and true: 2016 BMW M2 Test Drive
And like its cousin the M235i, the X4 M40i allows a measured amount of sportiness through. The exhaust is muted, but almost always audible, at least slightly, humming away smoothly, and responding to even light throttle inputs. Even in a softer setting, the shocks only offer a dab of around-the-edges smoothness, so the ride is unmistakably sporty-firm at all times, though not uncomfortably so. The steering is capable of go-kart stiffness in a sportier drive mode, but even in the mildest one, it’s still fairly heavy, quick, and far from syrupy.