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2016 BMW X4 M40i

Posted on by Hayes

BMW X4 M40i
BMW X4 M40i

BMW’s lineup has become so vast and varied, the number of different vehicles in a dealership now rivals the types of birds in the subtropical rainforests of Papua New Guinea. What’s more, we’re discovering new types of BMWs all the time.

The Gran Coupe, the Gran Turismo and the Touring are all different types of compact BMWs. The 750i, M760Li and Alpina B7 are all different species of high-performance limo. Recently, the 5 Series Gran Turismo, an odd and long-endangered species, has officially become extinct. The newest discovery, however, is this: the X4 M40i.

If you don’t know what any of those names and numbers mean, don’t worry. You aren’t alone. You just need a quick lesson in German binomial nomenclature. A zoology background would help, too. The X4 M40i can be found in the SUV family, in the compact SUV genus, in the high-performance species, as part of the rare fastback sub-species.

It’s a curious thing with few natural rivals, save for the Porsche Macan S and Audi SQ5.

California’s farm country is not its natural habitat. The X4 may be an SUV, but it’s more sport than utility. The sloping roof cuts down on rear headroom and cargo space, but there is a mighty straight-six under the hood. The 355-horsepower turbocharged engine would appear to be a close relative of the motor found in the M2, only slightly de-tuned here for SUV duty.

With the SUV market in Canada booming, BMW is filling every possible niche. So, if the 300 horsepower X4 35i wasn’t enough, and your budget can’t stretch to a full-cream M model such as the X6M, now there’s a BMW for you. What exactly does the half-and-half M Performance X4 bring to the table over and above a regular X4? Good question.

Both the X4 M40i and X4 35i have six-cylinder engines. The M has 55 extra horsepower and 43 more lb-ft of torque, and will get from 0-100 km/h 0.6 seconds quicker. It rides on stiffer springs and anti-roll bars. Everything from the suspension to gearbox to steering is tuned for sporty driving, but the idea was to keep it eminently usable as everyday transportation. Cosmetic upgrades include grey trim, 20-inch M wheels, black chrome tailpipes, sport seats, M-style steering wheel and M badges galore.

Is that worth the $3,700 premium you’ll pay for the X4 M40i over the 35i? There’s a little more beefy engine burble when you hit the starter button. But in our brief time with the car, the performance increase is only noticeable when you really put your foot down. As for its corner carving prowess, well, it’s still an SUV and the improvements aren’t night and day. You’ll have to decide if having slightly less body roll is worth the price of a slightly stiffer ride. The 35i always felt powerful, but the M’s 0-100 time of 4.9 seconds puts it in another league. Neither the Porsche Macan S nor the Audi SQ5 can match its straight-line pace. The toughest competition might come from BMW’s own X3 35i though, which is a tad more spacious, more comfortable, nearly as fast and nearly $10,000 cheaper.

The X4 M40i is a strange bird.

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