The proliferation of coupé-SUV models will mean you’re now familiar with the concept. BMW describes the new X4 as a ‘sports activity coupé’ but in principle this is typical fare: simply a five-seat SUV with a sloping rear roofline, and as such it trades passenger space and boot volume for a dash more ‘elegance’.
In terms of width and length, the X4 M Competition is comparable to the latest 3 Series, but its height, along with substantial air intakes, 21in wheels and aggressive details, such as the rear diffuser and gurney flap on the bootlid, give it the presence of a far larger car.
In short, you’re unlikely to miss it pass by, but the hardware beneath the bodywork is of greater interest. For a start, the six-cylinder S58 engine, although developed from the B58 found in the X4 M40i, is almost entirely new, with a redesigned block, cylinder head, pistons and crankshaft. The two turbochargers are controlled by electric actuators, while improved intake and exhaust tracts mean 503bhp (473bhp for the non-Competition X4 M, which isn’t available in the UK) can now be achieved without resorting to watercooling, as was necessary for the old M4 GTS. This is the most powerful six-cylinder engine ever fitted to a production BMW, and it delivers peak torque across a much broader band than the outgoing S55, even if the 7300rpm redline is lower.
Drive is sent via an eight-speed torque-converter automatic that replaces M’s old seven-speed dual-clutch auto, and downstream of that sits the transfer case for BMW’s M xDrive system, before an Active M diff at the rear axle. As with all M division SUVs, there is no way to ‘uncouple’ the front driveshafts as you can with the M5, but the torque split is rear-biased and the kinematics of the adaptively damped suspension have been revised for better wheel control, grip and stability.
Powerful SUVs are unashamed in their road-biased disposition, and this X4 M is no different. Michelin’s Pilot Sport 4S tyres – the sort of rubber you would expect to find on BMW’s quicker saloon and coupé models – are standard.
All this technology does not come cheap, but there’s another cost: weight. Even without heavy mechanical features such as air suspension and four-wheel steering, the X4 M Competition still weighs a claimed 1970kg. However, this isn’t unusual for the class and, at the scales, the BMW splits the Stelvio Quadrifoglio and the GLC 63 S.