For a long time now, BMW has hung its hat on the fact its cars are the Ultimate Driving Machines. All of its vehicles – including the big SUVs and front-drive minivans – are billed sharp handling sports cars. That same mentality is writ large in the new X4 M40i, a "sporty" SUV with big wheels, uprated brakes and stiff suspension ... oh, and it will also hit 100 km/h (62 mph) in under 5 seconds.
The key plank in BMW's new M40i package is the 3-liter twin-turbo inline six hiding beneath the bonnet. With 265 kW (360 hp) available between 5,800 and 6,000 rpm and 465 Nm of torque available between 1,350 and 5,250 rpm, the M40i is good for a 0-100 km/h (62 mph) sprint of 4.9 seconds.
The "M" badge on the back of the X4 isn't just there for show: as well as bumping up the turbo pressure, the 3.0-liter motor in the M40i has new crankshaft bearings, spark plugs and piston top-rings from the M3/M4's engine inside.
That means the M40i, which weighs 1915 kg (4222 lb), will do the 100 km/h sprint as fast as Audi's S3 or BMW's own M135i, on its way to an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph).
In spite of all this power BMW's range topping X4 is still reasonably economical, although 8.6 l/100 km (32.8 mpg) is still significantly more than the 6.8 l/100km (41.5 mpg) Audi's performance-focused diesel SQ5 can manage.
As a company best-known for sharp, rear-drive handling, BMW has gone to great lengths to make the X4's all-wheel drive system doesn't turn it into an understeering pig. Up to 100 percent of the engine's torque can be channeled to either of the back wheels, and the car defaults to a rear-bias in regular driving.
Backing up the rear-biased xDrive system are a number of other handling upgrades including bigger front brakes, optional Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires and stiffer springs. The camber on the front axle has also been cranked up for to help make the steering sharper.
Inside, changes to the basic X4's interior are limited, though M40i owners do get special door sills and a new M Sport steering wheel to set the car apart. It's a similar story on the outside, with twin exhaust pipes and bigger, polished wheels providing the main giveaways to the M40i's potential.