The dictionary definition of an anomaly as a “departure from the regular arrangement, general rule, or usual method” perfectly describes the 2017 BMW X4 M40i.
It’s a high-performance car that’s not really a car. It’s a crossover sport utility vehicle that’s designed to look like a coupe. But it’s not a coupe. Nor is it really an SUV.
What BMW’s designers did was to simply slice off half of the top over the cargo area to give it a fastback roofline, reminiscent of a coupe. The result is a tall, awkward looking all-wheel drive vehicle. Its close garage mate is the more conventional X3, with four doors and a standard crossover roofline.
It is nothing new with BMW, which parks its ultimate driving machines in more niches than anyone in the business. This sloped design started with the X6, a bigger crossover with cramped quarters, little cargo carrying capability and a price tag north of $62,000.
Almost anyone would surmise that would be a non-starter with potential buyers. But there usually are at least a few customers who like to be different, have the bucks to indulge their tastes and probably own another vehicle to do their hauling.
The X4 and X6 actually have a modicum of respectability despite their unusual design. In 2016, Americans bought 7,117 X6s and 4,989 X4s. But BMW’s more conventional crossovers—X1, X3 and X5—each had five-digit sales with all three totaling 119,649.
That said, the new X4 M40i is still a BMW, with all that entails for driver involvement. Its all-wheel drive system, with BMW’s dynamic stability control, is biased toward the rear wheels for improved handling. The setup includes stiffer springs, responsive steering, sturdy anti-roll bars and tuned shock absorbers, resulting in flat cornering with little body roll.
Power comes from a 355-hp 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine that makes 343 lb-ft of torque. It gets the power to the pavement through an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode controlled by paddles on the steering wheel.
The combination makes for exhilarating performance, notwithstanding the X4 M40i’s tall profile. Car and Driver Magazine clocked the acceleration time at 4.4 seconds to 60 mph, which is more than anyone could use except occasionally. Top speed is rated at 150 mph. City/highway/combined fuel consumption is 18/26/21 mpg.
There are four driver-selectable driving modes: Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. They do what they suggest, including enhancing fuel economy, a better ride, more precise performance and handling, and all-out racetrack style driving.
The Comfort mode is the best for daily motoring, yet it has a sporting feel that is lacking in many crossover SUVs. Although 20-inch alloy wheels are a $950 option, the tested X4 M40i, with its standard 19-inch wheels, delivered a ride with sharp jolts on rough pavement.
The interior is accommodating for four passengers, though the sloped roofline — despite the tall profile — requires some ducking for entry. The center-rear seating position is problematical, and the fastback roofline keeps the cargo space to 18 cubic feet, which would be fine in a big four-door sedan but is mediocre in a compact crossover.
Despite its height, outward visibility is not the greatest, especially out back, where the rear window resembles a machine gun lookout in a World War II pillbox bunker. The pillars on both sides of the backlight (called C-pillars in the car biz) also restrict visibility so it’s important to adjust the outside mirrors correctly to eliminate blind spots.
The X4 M40i comes with a starting price of $59,095, which includes an expected suite of standard features: automatic climate control, automatic engine stop-start, adaptive cruise control, motorized sunroof, leather upholstery, remote locking, power tailgate, premium audio system with satellite radio, rain-sensing windshield wipers, power front sport seats and run-flat tires.
Options on the test vehicle included a $2,750 technology package with navigation and a head-up display; $1,950 for LED exterior lighting and automatic headlights; $950 cold weather package with heated seat and steering wheel; $1,150 for a surround view rearview camera, and $750 for the “glacier silver metallic” paint job. The bottom line sticker came to $66,545.
If your priority list requires driving a high-performance machine that handles well, rides hard and is impractical, different and somewhat exclusive, and if you have the wherewithal to buy or lease this anomaly, the X4 M40i should not disappoint.
- Model: 2017 BMW X4 M40i four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
- Engine: 3.0-liter six-cylinder, turbocharged, 355 hp, 343 lb-ft torque.
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
- Overall length: 15 feet 4 inches.
- EPA passenger/cargo volume: 95/18 cubic feet.
- Weight: 4,272 pounds.
- EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 18/26/21 mpg. Premium fuel recommended.
- Base price, including destination charge: $59,095.
- Price as tested: $66,545.
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.
Photos (c) BMW.