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First drive 2016 BMW X4 M40i Review by Henny Hemmes +VIDEO

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M i X e d f e e l i n g s

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

Monterey, CA - February 17, 2106: Weeks before its official debut at the Detroit Auto Show, the arrival of the second Sports Activity Coupe from M GmbH had already been announced. (BMW Confirms World Premiere of M2 and X4 M40i at 2016 Detroit Auto Show) Since then we have driven the new M model in California.

Just like the BMW M235i that has “warmed” us up for the M2 model, this variant of the X4 may be a precurrser to the X4 M.

Just like in the M2 Coupe, the M-engineers used the N55 engine with several parts from the M3, such as spark plugs, pistons, a forged steel crankshaft plus bearings.

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The 3.0-liter 6-cylinder TwinTurbo produces 265 kW/360 hp, 10 hp less than in the M2. Maximum torque is the same, but is available at somewhat lower revs: 465 Nm/343 pound-feet from 1,350-5,250 rpm. Together with the standard 8-speed automatic transmission and the optimized all-wheel drive the 1,840 kg/4,057 lbs X4 M40i is well prepared for a dynamic drive. The official performance confirms the potential: the X4 M40i should be able to accelerate from 0-62 mph in just one tenth less than 5 seconds and it can reach a (limited) top speed of 250 km/h or 155 mph.

Prepared to impress

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We gathered at the Laguna Seca Raceway, where a dozen white X4 M40i’s were lined up, prepared to impress. Not at the race track, that was reserved for the new M2 Coupe, but on the Monterey County roads. The scenic route led us over the lovely Carmel Valley Road through the village and along the wineries into Klondike Canyon. It was a pity that we had no time to stop when we passed Bernardus Lodge, part of the winery of Dutchman Ben(ardus) Pon, the former Porsche race car driver, who participated in the 1962 Dutch Grand Prix and went to California after retiring from racing in 1965.

Sporty looks, sporty feel

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The X4 M40i is a so-called M Performance model and is immediately recognizable by the L-shaped rear lights, the diffuser, the tailpipes left and right as end pieces of the sports exhaust system and the powerful engine sound. At the front the Standard this model stands on 19-inch wheels, but our test cars were equipped with 20-inch M wheels with 245/40ZR20 up front and 275/35ZR20 Michelin Pilot Super Sports tires in the rear.

To match the high performance engine, the X4 got stiffer springs and stabilizer bars of a larger diameter, strengthened the double wishbone suspension and applied adjustable dampers. The xDrive all-wheel drive system has Performance Control as a standard feature. It regulates the continuous variable distribution of drive torque between the two rear wheels. xDrive has also been configured with the emphasis on the rear wheels for improved driving dynamics.

Stiff combination

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Since the Mini Convertible, the M2 and X4 M40i were combined in one event, I shared the drive of all three models with colleague Ian Kuah. Soon after we hit the road, we instantly agreed that performance and handling are impressive, but that set up of the suspension is quite stiff. On the first miles of our route we were somewhat disappointed about the ride quality.

Ian talked about a comparison with the X6M, but immediately corrected his thoughts by realizing that the much cheaper X4 M40i cannot be equipped with systems such as air suspension and active anti-roll bars. We also realized that the 20-inch wheels did not really enhance comfort on the bumpy roads. Not even in Comfort mode.

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As soon as we pushed the X4 and drove well over the road’s speed limit, the car felt as if it became excited itself and loved to be in a dynamic mood. Taking the turns of the winding road up or down hill made us smile as it felt very stable and agile, notwithstanding its weight. The 8-speed steptronic transmission is unsurpassed, the tires did not lose grip and, we liked the crispy steering response and loved the fast acceleration. Admitted though, you cannot constantly drive like this, especially when you take family or friends for a ride – or can expect Smokey behind a tree with a laser gun.

Mixed feelings

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Therefore, I had somewhat mixed feelings. As a sporty SAC, the X4 M40i is great, but the stiff set up combined with the large wheels is a too much for daily use.

With this new model, BMW hopes to attract sporty drivers who are already looking into the segment of premium SUVs, or according to the BMW nomenclature SACs, Sports Activity Coupes. Rising sales of the past years have proven that more and more customers are choosing a model, variant or package with the letter M. The X4 M40i has more sporty looks and offers a more dynamic drive than the X4 35i. I am convinced that it will attract enthusiasts because if its performance, while there probably will be people who like to bridge the time with this M Performance model until the X4 M gets the green light.

Technical Details BMW X4 M40i

Engine: 6-cyl. turbocharged. Capacity: 2,979 cc. Power: 265 kW/360 hp @ 5,000-6,000 rpm. Torque: 465 Nm/343 lb-ft @ 1,350-5,250 rpm.

Transmission: 8-speed steptronic automatic.

Acceleration 0-62 mph (100 km/h):4.9 sec.

Top speed: 155 mph/250 km/h

Fuel cons. average (Eu cycle): 8.6 liter/100 km, or 27.35 mpg.

CO2-emission 199 g/km.

Price: from $ 57,800 (MSRP)

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