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First Drive: 2016 BMW X4M 40i

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and design and fashion are often lauded and lampooned simultaneously. One month harem pants that make everyone look like they have a full diaper, are all the rage. The next we’ve got a mix of athletic and leisure clothing, called “athleisure,”  making their stomping debut down the runway.  Like fashion, car companies are trying to convince the world that we need this weird hybrid between a full size SUV and a raked-roof crossover thing for years. It’s not a Sport Utility Vehicle, it’s not a Crossover, it’s a “Sports Activity Coupe.”  Meet the newest addition to BMW’s M-Performance line up, the X4 M40i.

BMW X4M40i

Let’s get all of this letter and number mumbo jumbo out of the way. The X4 lands between the X3 and the X5 and is what BMW calls a “coupe.” Ignore what you think you know about a coupe having two doors—BMW and others refer to their rake backed SUVs as coupes because of their fastback styling. Take an X3 and lop off the roofline to make the back seat and the cargo area shorter and more useless and wah-la, X4.

At the bottom of the X4 range, there’s the X4 xDrive 28i, followed by the X4 xDrive 35i and now, topping that range out is the 2016 BMW X4M 40i. Even though it doesn’t get the xDrive badge, the X4 M40i does get BMW’s all-wheel drive functionality. Each model in the X4 line gets an increasing amount of power and some trim upgrades. Back in the day 28, 35 and 40 would have corresponded with engine displacement, now they are really just arbitrary numbers that BMW thinks make great marketing tools.

The M in the name signifies M Performance—not pure M—like an M2 or an M4. Similar to what Mercedes-Benz did with their AMG Sport line (that in-between the AMG and regular line that is now being killed off) and Audi does with its S and RS lines,  BMW’s  M Performance line gives models a small boost in power, more engine noise and some trim upgrades.

From the outside the BMW X4 M40i still has that weird proportion thing happening.  Yes, it’s a “striking” vehicle—but for me it strikes all the wrong spots. The best angle is the front three-quarter—a place where the rear squatty roofline is hidden from sight. At this angle the X4 M40i looks more like an oversized sedan than a weird jelly bean. At the front big air intakes push the fog lights high up and give the front fascia an Angry Birds Pig wearing a flak helmet appearance. From the side, the high beltline and fastback rear give it a sedan-in-a-funhouse mirror look.

The The X4 M40i gets a whole bunch of extra M Performance badges everywhere and additional styling cues, both inside and out.  On the outside, the 2016 BMW X4 M40i gets grey side mirrors, standard 19-inch wheels (that can be optionally boosted to 20-inches) and black chrome tailpipes. Just in case you don’t’ remember that you paid a premium for the M Performance line, you have at least half a dozen M badges to wallow in, inside the cabin. There’s a badge on each door sill, one on the instrument panel, another on the gear shift, one on the steering wheel, and another on the dead pedal. On the outside, the alphabet soup name takes up a good 6 inches of space on the rear of the car.

With a price tag that starts at just shy of $60,000, the X4 M40i isn’t affordable. You have to really be in love with they style and design to spend that much on a car that is less practical than other options on the market.

Price Range: Starting at $57,800 and rapidly skyrocketing

Competitors:  Porsche Macan S, Audi SQ5, upcoming Mercedes-Benz GLC 450 AMG

Alternatives: GLE Coupe, GLA 45 AMG, Mazda CX-5

Pros:  SUV height with the M Performance line styling and sound. Good visibility all around and ample backseat space to seat 6-foot tall friends as long as they have long legs and short torsos. Characteristic looks, good acceleration and good handling.

Cons: The synthesized engine sound that is piped into the cabin makes me nuts. Rear headroom and cargo area is significantly compromised by the X4’s raked roofline. Characteristic looks that are an utter turn off.

Would I Buy It With My Own Money: No. For an SUV it’s not as practical as others on the market, and for a sports “coupe,” its not nearly as fun. Plus, I just cannot get behind the looks of the thing particularly for the price.

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