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By Mark Jones

Road Test Editor


ROAD TEST: BMW X4 M40i offers the best of both worlds

Midlife update gives it better driving dynamics and driver assistance systems.


You don’t want a traditional box-shaped SUV or a space-compromised coupe. You want the space, dynamism and look offered by a combination of the two.

Sure, many might argue as to why you would expect one vehicle to offer that – but if you have the money, then it’s about what you want and are prepared to pay for.

Thankfully for the discerning customer, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are forever at war with each other to entice you to open your wallet and put one of their vehicles in your garage.

They fall over each other to not only bring better, more dynamic products, but also offer as much choice as you could want.

And by choice, I don’t just mean the endless list of options on a specific model when you are shopping in this segment.

I mean you now have so many different models to choose from. So there are a few vehicles that offer you SUV space as well as coupe dynamism and looks. BMW offers a large X6 and a more compact X4 to perfectly fill this niche.

We had the current top-of-the range X4 M40i on test. I say “current” because there is an even more potent X4 M on the horizon. Our car competes against Mercedes-AMG’s GLC 43 Coupe.

I haven’t tested a GLC 43, so this will not be a comparative test. BMW fired first with the X4 in 2014 and some 200 000 have been sold worldwide.

So, for a niche car, it is popular, and with good reason.

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It has been further enhanced for its midlife update. You get enhanced driving dynamics, a further refined interior, state-of-the-art driver assistance systems and leading-edge connectivity technologies.

For our road test we had the added benefit of BMW M performance power that sees a healthy 265kW of power and 500Nm of torque being produced by the tried-and-tested straight-six twin-power turbo setup under the bonnet.

And when this power and torque is channelled through an eight-speed Steptronic Sports automatic transmission and BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive, you know it’s going to hustle in a straight line.

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I ran the X4 M40i at Gerotek and the numbers were impressive.

A 0-100km/h time of under five seconds, a quarter mile (400m) in just over 13 sec, a half mile (800m) and one kilometre speed of 207km/h and 218km/h respectively, and a limited top speed of just over 250km/h.

As for fuel consumption, you will never get the 9.2-l/100km as claimed, but when you are spending R1 132 800 for a high-powered vehicle, I doubt you will find my average of 12.6l/100km overly offensive.

Since standard specification includes not only M Sport suspension and performance control function, but also: variable sport steering along with a M Sport differential, that runs on the rear wheels, M Sport brakes and adaptive suspension with electronically controlled dampers as optionally fitted to our test car, you know it’s going to haul around corners, too.

Moving inside the X4, you are greeted by a modern, premium interior that encompasses topclass materials, precise build quality and meticulously crafted details that set the tone.

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The surfaces of the instrument panel and door panelling merge smoothly into one another, while the X logos embossed into the electroplated surfaces of the doors provide striking details.

For a midsize vehicle, most family space requirements will be met.

Large stowage trays, roomy door pockets, cupholders and various storage compartments are testimony to the functional qualities of this updated offering.

There are three full-size seats in the rear, offering more leg room than before.

And load space can be expanded from 525 litres to a maximum of 1 430 litres by folding down sections of the rear seats.

On the tech side of things, you are offered an iDrive display and operating system that includes a freestanding control display, BMW gesture control, a multifunctional instrument display and the latest generation of the BMW Head-Up Display, all as options.

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And those who enjoy talking to yourself or your car, will be happy to know the voice control system has undergone further improvement and can now follow freely formulated instructions.

The full range of comfort and safety-enhancing driver assistance systems has been extended to feature the likes of a Driving Assist Plus safety package that includes a new-generation active cruise control with “stop and go” function, steering and lane control assist, lane keep assist with active side collision protection, plus 3D cameras and wireless charging for compatible smartphones, to name just some.

The standard connected drive services provide the basis for accessing features such as real time traffic information.

The mobility assistant interfaces the vehicle with touchpoints – such as smartphones, smartwatches and voice-controlled personal assistants – via the flexible open mobility cloud platform.

The additional features of BMW Connected+ offer an even greater degree of personalisation.

BMW is also the first carmaker to offer a secure server connection for exchanging and editing emails, calendar entries and contact details – thanks to the Microsoft Office 365 function, which users can select from the ConnectedDrive Store.

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Digitally, technical or simply dynamically, anyway you cut it, if you tangle with this BMW X4 M40i on the road, you are going to have your work cut out if you want to drive around it.

Likes

  • Unique niche-type styling
  • Dynamic and practical at the same time

Dislikes

  • You must add plenty options to make it special

Verdict

  • If you want something different and have the budget, the X4 M40i could be for you

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BMW Gerotek Road Tests