There are some cars you just click with right away as a reviewer, and the rest of the week with that ride just makes you love it more and more.
I sometimes refer to these as “first-block” cars. Vehicles that enchant you moments after putting them in Drive and rolling away for the very first time. These are machines that sell themselves better than any salesperson ever could. For me, the X4 M40i is one of those cars and is actually one of my top-three SUV drives of 2019. (Behind Levante Trofeo and X7 M50i).
X4 is an amazing machine in so many ways. But what does it take to be a first-block hero? Quite a lot, actually. The overall shape and image are what you’re looking for. Check. The car looks better, and feels better inside, than you ever dreamed seeing it in commercials or on the road. Check. The drive position has to feel perfect, and the overall snick from Park to Drive has to feel just-right too. You learn a shocking amount about a car in those first few minutes. Mostly, you learn which car models you do not want.
Sure, the Audi SQ5 looks cool and has sweet tech. Same for the Mercedes GLC. (Or any competitive set.) But on paper and in the reviews they all seem nearly the same, you think.
Until that first sitting. Then certain ones you thought you would love are instantly out of the running.
We fell hard in that first few minutes for this rose-gold sports-activity-coupe and indeed loved it deeply after consummating the relationship with a performance drive review video.
Watch this 4.6-second dynamo blast off the line with its launch control and come back to hear the highs and lows of our love-fest of a week together.
Performance Drive Review
Love was indeed in the air in late September for the X4 and your author. But also literally.
Hurricane Dorian’s after-effects in South Carolina lead to a love-bug population explosion. The pairs of lovers hit the windshields and bumpers so hard and often it was like a downpour of passion. (We discuss this toward end of video, but the female love-bug so drains her mates of life-force that she eventually has to flick them away and seek another stud.)
Image C/O Farmers Almanac
The reasons we fell so hard for X4 were unexpected, considering it is basically the same machine as the also-great X3 M40i. But essentially, the X3/X4 siblings have gone from being slightly brash and bouncy to ultra-fast and serene. They take the best parts of X5 refinement and drive manners and make it nimbler and more affordable.
X4 itself has the best drive position and seats of any SUV in memory at any price. It has truly enchanting levels of pace and dynamism that are superior to the X3. Just a tick crisper ride and lower center of gravity gives a bit more control, and a bit more feel through the wheel, pedals and seat of your pants.
X4 is fast, handles like a dream come true, and yet also relaxes into a mature and sophisticated luxury cruiser when you want to calm down for a while.
Standard xDrive does not mean this is an understeery experience at the limit.
In fact, X4 dances and corners like a RWD sports car… yet just happens to have perfect grip all the time. X4 really, really pulls away from X3 at speed. Passing power from being 0.3 cD more aerodynamic at speed (0.335 plays about 0.314) is superb and a notable gain over X3.
Another reason X4 locked us into its embrace? The rarity. The new style is chic and the roofline is cool. And most of all you will not see yourself around much. Whereas X4 achieves around 30-40% of the Euro sales versus X3, in the US market it is a true rarity at below five percent. That means the looks are enduringly special and cool.
The new surfacing and design details of the X4 are awesome and feel futuristic and stylish. But mostly the X4 is just more care-free and coupelike, perhaps not yet shackled to child seats and diapers as the X3’s roofline implies.
Yet while X4 looks more chic it actually gives up very little to X3 in practicality. About an inch less shoulder room and head room in second row, and a drop of about 10 cubic-feet in the trunk are the only losses. For this racy shape, sleek quarter panels and deeply sloped side glass!? Yep. Pure pleasure til the end.
It would be nice if the uniqueness of the looks extended to the nose, but that is actually the only part that X4 shares with the X3. It looks good though all the same.
An objective ding for X4 must be its price premium over X3. It has a base price of around $46k that is slightly more than X3. At like-for-like equipment levels the X4 only costs about $3k more.
The standard turbo four is fine but upgrading to the M40i will make you see stars — from its pricing starting from about $60k.
With a few options that rises to about $69k for the test truck, which is pretty serious money. Still, will be about $20k less than a top X6.
The only major gripes we have to report are frustration that Apple CarPlay is not included. The vehicle has great phone integration and some carplay features via its dedicated BMW app, but not the plug-in and go ease of actual CarPlay. Or in fact the awesome wireless (!!!) CarPlay that is so cool in the M850i. Likely to be added very soon.
Besides that, we just wish the car could have stayed longer before shaking us loose.
So, is it a sad life for the male love-bugs? Quite the contrary! Your entire adult life in the ecstasy of a warm embrace, right til your last breath.
In this metaphor, the X4 is my queen and I but a humble pastime. A way to continue the species and nothing more, to her.
Like a press car going to the next journalist… the X4 M40i had to move on in order to survive.
A heartfelt sorry to all the bugs smashed to make this article. Take solace in the fact that they went out in the throws of carnal passion!
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.