The X4 M40i lives up its billing as a car for every occasion, providing relaxed part-throttle properties around town, sharp acceleration off the line, potent in-gear qualities and formidable cruising attributes at motorway speeds.
Indeed, its breath of ability really is quite impressive and marks it out as a logical choice for those seeking the ease of operation that comes with its raised seating position but unwilling to compromise of performance.
The heavily reworked BMW M division engine sitting up front is perfectly suited to the task, feeling quite a bit more muscular and yet more refined across its entire rev range than the standard unit.
It’s more vocal, too. In anything but Comfort mode, the smooth-revving unit provides an alluring soundtrack that is regularly interspersed with the odd crackle of exhaust on the overrun when you are really hauling along, all of which endows the new range-topping X4 with a distinctly sporting air.
While the engine impresses, it is the gearbox that really steals the show. The M-Steptronic unit delivers rapid and precise shifts in automatic mode, whether tooling around town at part throttle or blasting along country roads at full throttle.
Flick the paddle shifters behind the wheel to engage manual mode and its performance steps up a notch, delivering even faster changes under load and holding individual gears all the way to the 7000rpm ignition cut out.
Around town, the X4 M40i is smooth and, provided you’ve dialled up Comfort mode, fairly compliant. There is some underlying firmness to its progress over manhole covers and high-frequency bumps, but deft tuning of the adaptive dampers and a good deal of wheel travel help to mask any shortcomings in the ride department.
Find a suitable road and it doesn’t take long to discover the X4 M40i is much more than just a warmed over version of the X4 xDrive35i. The various changes brought to its underpinnings elevate its dynamic properties to an altogether higher level, making it a very enjoyable car to thread down challenging sections of blacktop.
The added camber up front provides more eager turn-in characteristics than you’ll find in any standard X4, and just about any rival SUV, for that matter. This endows BMW M division’s latest member with a terrifically agile feel.
Exemplary body control combines with outstanding grip to endow the new BMW with a wonderful progressive yet secure nature when you are really pushing on in Sport mode. To unlock its full potential, though, you really need to be running in Sport Plus mode, which prompts the four-wheel drive and torque vectoring systems to dole out a distinctly rearward bias of drive.
The retuned steering is precise but lacks for any meaningful feedback. It’s also good to note that BMW’s M division has adopted a new steering wheel with a thinner rim.
The rest of the package is pretty much the same as you’ll find in other X4 models; that means reasonable accommodation, a commanding driving position, logical controls and 500 litres of luggage capacity.