2019 BMW X4 M40i essentials: Fun to drive, polarizing looks

What is it: The 2019 BMW X4 is the Bavarian company’s…some would call “fashionable” SUV/crossover/tall coupe. If you’re a regular Autoweek reader you’ll know we’re not big fans of the shape, and in this application you lose ten cubic feet of cargo space compared to the better-looking X3. This one did come with BMW’s gesture control turned off, which I had a hell of a time with — in a bad way — on my first drive.

Key Competitors: Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe, Volvo XC40

Base Price: $61,445 As-Tested Price: $69,170

Full review: 2019 BWM X4 first drive

Highlights: This 2019 model begins the second generation of the curious X4, which is outsold by the X3 TEN TIMES OVER! Why do they keep making this thing!? It’s a little bigger than the first generation, with more rear seat room and a little more power. An eight-speed auto is standard across the line as is all-wheel drive. From the press release: “the BMW X4 M40i comes with M specific sports seats, a sport leather steering wheel and the standard anthracite-colored BMW Individual headliner, complemented by interior trim strips in Aluminum Rhombicle with accent strips in Pearl-effect Chrome.” I reprint that here just to get the phrase “aluminum rhombicle” in the story.

Our Opinion: I feel about the same about the X4 after an extended drive as I felt on the first swing through. It’s unapologetically fun to drive. The 3.0-liter inline 6 is solid and strong from upshift to upshift. The engine sounds good when the pedal is planted and even better when in sport plus mode and the exhaust pops and crackles. Throttle tip-in is easy in comfort mode and a lot sharper in sport and sport plus.

The sporty X4 M40i is one of the best in the compact crossover segment handling-wise. The only utes that are better or even equal are the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Porsche Macan. An autocross shootout between the three should be in order for low-slung crossovers. But neither of those is branded a coupe. Steering effort is medium but extremely direct, not quite the ratio of the Stelvio (which is maybe a little too quick), and enjoyable. It also soaks up most of Detroit’s road imperfections without complaint.

Excepting the gesture-control features, the interior is laid out perfectly and everything works. The rotary controller takes care of most of the business and there are redundant mode buttons for media, nav, home, etc. There are also extra buttons on the steering wheel for stuff you need often. This X4 also has one of the new breed of infotainment systems that can do Apple CarPlay through Bluetooth. If you don’t have CarPlay or Android Auto yet, your next car probably will. It makes your nav screen look like your iPhone’s home screen. I think it’s the best way to go hands free.

It is big enough to fit two kids, but if you packing up for a weekend getaway, sell your X4 and get an X3. Things tend to stack up — higher than the X4’s sloping roofline allows — quickly.

But, if you don’t mind the shape, the X4 is great dynamically. If it’s just you and the spouse roaming the world, no problem. Start packing in adults, camping supplies and beer, and you’ll be out of luck. There’s no competing Porsche Macan Coupe, nor an Audi Q5 coupe, yet. Your choices for German luxury jelly beans are this and the Mercedes GLC coupe, which has a more luxurious-feeling interior. If that’s what you’re looking for, head to Stuttgart. If you want more sport, go to Munich. Either way, look into European delivery; I’m sure the X4 would be fun zipping around the Alps.

Options: Executive Package with parking assistant plus, dynamic digital cluster, active park distance control, rearview camera, surround view ($2,850); Premium Package with heated steering wheel, heated front seats, head-up display, gesture control ($1,600); 20-inch wheels ($950); premium audio ($875); Flamenco red metallic ($550); Driving Assistance Package including active blind spot detection, lane departure warning ($500); wireless charging ($400)

On Sale: Now

Base Price: $61,445

As-Tested Price: $69,170

Drivetrain: 3.0-liter turbocharged I6, eight-speed automatic, AWD

Output: 355 hp @ 5,500-6,500 rpm; 365 lb-ft @ 1,520-4,800 rpm Curb Weight: 4,323 lb

Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 20/27/23 mpg

Pros: I6 turbo noises are good no matter the sheetmetal

Cons: The sheetmetal

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