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BMW M4 COMPETITION

MULTIPURPOSE M |

As an enthusiast’s everyday car, the X4M Competition demonstrates that, despite some detractors saying otherwise on the Internet, an M badge has its place on an SUV.

Much scorn has been heaped on high-performance SUVs, with the common sentiment being that they’re pointless and that buyers should consider a dedicated sports car and a primary family car instead. While that statement used to merit a couple of years ago, it no longer carries the same weight today. The reality is that the modern performance SUV has improved substantially over the years, so petrolheads too can enjoy these ‘do it all’ cars. To that end, we took on the challenge of living with the new X4M Competition for a week, which yielded some rather interesting results.

FORM OVER FUNCTION

Say what you will about SUV coupes, but their design has become increasingly popular. They make up in style and road presence what they lose in practicality. The X4 M is an excellent example as it amps the class with its M-specific kit. In addition to sleeker headlights and a more prominent kidney grille, the X4M also comes with aggressive M-specific bumpers with bear functional air intakes to cool the engine, transmission and brakes. The rear sports updated LED taillights, a subtle gloss black spoiler, a sporty bumper, and a gloss black diffuser flanked by a quartet of exhaust pipes. Massive 21” wheels are standard and add to the car’s substantial road presence. Our test model took the style a notch higher with its vivid neon yellow Sao Paulo paint job, which commanded stares and snapshots wherever it went. 

‘M’AGNIFICENT INTERIOR

You would be hard-pressed to fault the X4’s build quality and craftsmanship, complemented in the cabin by high-grade materials and progressive design. The leather upholstery with its intricate stitching feels and looks upmarket, while carbon fibre inlays add sportiness to the cabin. 

As with all BMWs, the dash is angled towards the driver, creating a driver-focused environment. The M’s dashboard layout is still from the previous generation, with the latest models now being released with a redesigned cabin that better blends traditional design cues with modern features. In addition to a configurable 12.3” digital instrument cluster, the X4 M also comes with a 12.3” infotainment system, navigation as standard, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. We prefer the dual-zone climate control’s physical buttons, which are better than most touchscreen implementations we’ve seen in the industry lately. Attractive ambient lighting and a panoramic sunroof beautifully blend artificial and natural lighting to create a pleasant mood in the cabin. As for my fellow audiophiles, music needs are catered for by a Harman Kardon sound system.

As far as practicality is concerned, the X4 M comfortably accommodates four adults. The electric front seats are heated and multiway adjustable, making it easy for front occupants to get comfortable. Rear passengers enjoy decent head and legroom, though taller passengers would probably prefer the more accommodating roofline of the X3 M instead. Storage also takes a hit due to the sloping rear end, providing just 525 litres of space that can be increased to 1,430 litres by collapsing the rear seats. 

THE M FACTOR

One of the greatest motivators to consider the X4 M has to be its ultra-refined powerplant. Employing BMW’s staple B58 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six engine – which in Competition guise produces a healthy 375 kW and 650 Nm, delivered to all wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. BMW claims it will sprint from standstill to 100 km/h in just 3.8 seconds and onwards to a 285 km/h top speed.

Part of the engine’s charm is how buttery smooth it is. Considering that most of the time I spent behind the wheel was comprised of commuting to school and the mall, it helped that no engine vibrations transferred into the cabin. However, during the brief moments I indulged my right foot, the X4 M responded with almost obscene acceleration. You sense that the engine is unrelenting, inspiring overtaking confidence and making highway trips a breeze. The icing on the cake is the aural delight that accompanies its performance.

To ensure that the car confidently delivers its power to the wheels and competently handles corners in a manner expected of an M car, BMW has reworked the suspension by making it firmer. The M feels incredibly planted through fast bends, avoiding the kind of body roll you might expect from a vehicle with a higher centre of gravity. You barely feel the vehicle’s mass, just what you need for spirited driving. However, the M’s ride quality will be too stiff for some, resulting from the combined effects of a stiffer suspension set-up and low-profile tyres (285/40 up front and 315/35 at the rear).

LAST WORD

The X4 M would make for a solid one-car garage. In addition to having the practicality (albeit slightly compromised) of an SUV, the car also delivers sports car-like performance, giving you all the car you could ever want. The interior is also well equipped, and though looks are subjective, the car looks rather lovely. Its Achilles heel is the (necessary) firm suspension, which could wear you out if you live in an area where the roads aren’t European-level smooth. That said, the X4 M Competition made a believer out of me. 

Report by BRYAN KAYAVHU & Images © HUNTLEY PHOTOGRAPHY

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