It’s been more than two decades since the original BMW SUV, the X5, came to market. And what was once a fringe offering has become one of the Bavarian automakers most popular product lines. While BMW isn’t following the lead of some other automakers, walking away from the passenger car market, it has clearly shifted the balance with its latest line-up featuring a broad array of crossover-utility models.
That move has also generated a fair share of controversy — especially when it comes to more coupe-like offerings such as the X4 line. It’s meant to evoke the sportiness of the classic 4 Series coupe while delivering the higher seating and more imposing presence of an SUV.
After getting some brief time in the X4 during its original launch, I lined up an even more sporty X4 M with the Competition package to see what it’s like to live with the crossover for a week.
If you’re looking for an SUV that’s both stylish and sporty, the 2022 BMW X4 M is not a bad place to start. It has an imposing presence and yet the steeply sloped roofline gives it a sense of sleekness evoking the classic BMW 4 Series coupes.
For those who want serious levels of performance, the X4 M is the way to go. Take things up to extremes with the Competition package that adds another 30 horsepower — enhancing the aural pleasure with its active exhaust system.
At a starting price of just over $73,000, it’s not cheap, but there are plenty of luxury features that, along with the muscle the X4 M offers, should make you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.
Beauty, goes the old adage, is in the eyes of the beholder. The overall design of the BMW X4 M, as with so many other coupe-like SUVs, is clearly polarizing. The steep slope of the roofline is meant to evoke the sportiness of a traditional BMW 4 Series Coupe but, to some eyes, looks chunky due to the vehicle’s overall height. For me, the X4 is far less awkward looking than some competing coupe-like crossovers.
For 2022, BMW added a bigger grille to the X4 family, with thinner LED headlamps. And the double-kidney grille is now divided into distinct sections, divided by a subtle black strip behind which sit some of the crossover’s advanced driver assistance sensors, including radar and camera. There are updated bumpers this year and revised taillamps, as well.
Like all M models, the X4 package adds some distinctive design elements, starting with the large air intakes below and to the sides of the front bumper. There are blackened exhausts behind the front wheels for the air curtains that reduce turbulence around the tires.
The X4 M rides on 20-inch wheels wrapped in 255/45 tires up front, and 265/45 tires in the rear. The X4 M Competition model features upgraded to 21-inch rubber, 255/40s up front and 265/40 in the rear. With a thankful nod to the folks overseeing press car distribution in Detroit, they wisely swapped the normal summer rubber donuts out for Pirelli Scorpion winter tires.
The X4 M, meanwhile, offers several unique paint choices, including the eye-catching Sao Paulo Yellow that my tester was finished in.
As it should be, the X4 M adds a much more driver oriented feel than you get with the mainstream X4 line. Much of that comes from tweaks to the more sporty steering wheel which adds bright red paddle shifters and buttons that let you immediately select two customized “M Modes.” These alter a variety of vehicle functions, including steering, throttle and transmission response, as well as the crossover’s electronic damping system.
All versions of the X4 went through an interior update for 2022, with new controls on both the instrument panel and center console. That includes an updated version of the now-familiar BMW iDrive system. There are shortcut buttons surrounding the rotary controller making it easy to switch the digital display from navi to radio or other settings. The X4 M also carries over the base crossover’s twin 12.3 displays, including one for infotainment and the other for the gauge cluster. The latter automatically reconfigures depending upon which driving mode you choose.
The M’s seating has plenty of lateral support which prevents you from flopping around as you flog it through tight corners. But the front seats are surprisingly comfortable on long trips. They’re finished in Extended Merino leather. And Alcantara is available for both the center console and knee pads.
One thing to be aware of is that you will sacrifice cabin and cargo space due to the severe slope of the X4 M’s roofline.
The “base” BMW X4M is a reasonably potent machine, punching 473 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque. But the Competition package I spent the week with took things up another notch, the twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-6 bumped up to 503 hp and 479 lb-ft.
The latter version will launch you from 0 to 60 in around 3.5 seconds, making it one of the fastest products in a class that includes models like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio and the Mercedes-AMG GLC63. (My tester beat out BMW’s official specs which list 0-60 times of 3.9 seconds for the X4 M and 3.7 seconds for the Competition package.)
There is a trade-off, however. Fuel economy is painfully low. The base X4 M is rated at a mere 14 mpg City, 19 Highway. Curiously, the Competition package actually squeezes out a wee bit more mileage, as well as plenty of additional power, at 15 City, 20 Highway and 17 mpg Combined.
Power is channeled to all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. The gearshift is one of the more funky ones among many quirky electronic shifters and I occasionally found myself launching in manual mode — something I discovered as I quickly hit redline in first gear. The bold red paddle shifters on the steering wheel make it easy to gain a bit of manual control, if you wish. Power, meanwhile, is delivered to all four wheels though under normal settings, it’s normally biased to the back axle.
Safety and Technology
Along with the twin, 12.3-inch digital displays, the X4 M Competition I drove came with a useful head-up display system that made it easier to keep an eye on things like vehicle speed while pushing the crossover around tight corners.
Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and wireless charging ae standard, as is a WiFi hotspot with 3-month complimentary subscription. The 16-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system is first-rate and, better yet, is standard.
So is the BMW Active Driving Assistant which provides a lengthy suite of advanced driver assistance technologies including forward collision warning and lane keeping assist.
What began as a relatively mild winter turned frigid in January and has continued to bury the Motor City under blanket after blanket of snow. Complicating matters, brief warm-ups have routinely melted off enough snow which, a day or later, left roads covered with patches of black ice.
So, while I’d normally be disappointed receiving a test vehicle like a BMW M wearing winter rubber, it generally enhanced the experience this time around. I had a second “loaner” during most of the week, the new Lexus LX 600, and that provided a chance to compare the two under less than ideal road conditions.
What surprised me was just how well-mannered the X4 M proved, both on dry pavement and on tarmac covered with snow and ice. The winter tires were, of course, a big factor, but so were the BMW’s active damping and all-wheel-drive systems. I was able to keep the M Competition model under control, even when intentionally going too fast into a corner.
There were some minor trade-offs. The winter tires caused a very minor bit of skittishness on some roads, primarily those deeply grooved. But it was easy to compensate for. Of course, as you’d expect from an M, steering was tight and precise and the X4 M’s wheel offered the sort of feedback that has been lacking on some of BMW’s other recent models.
All versions of the X4 M come with an adaptive suspension with electronically controlled dampers. And you can set each up individually, precisely the way you want, or opt for any of the three factory presets. The Competition model adds an active – and manually tunable – exhaust system that makes some absolutely delightful noises in full-open. But you can quiet it down with a touch of a button if you don’t want to anger your neighbors.
Coupe-like crossovers aren’t for everyone. The look of the 2022 BMW X4 M is clearly polarizing — though it’s less chunky and clunky than some key competitors. Meanwhile, there are sacrifices when it comes to rear seat headroom and cargo space due to that sloping roofline.
But there’s plenty to love about the Bavarian crossover. The powertrain is an absolute delight, quick and response and, with the active exhaust system on the Competition package, it’s aurally orgasmic when you plant your right foot firmly on the floor.
Surprisingly, BMW held the price flat with the launch of the 2022 model year, the base X4 M starting at $73,400 before factoring in a $995 delivery fee. The Competition package adds another $7,000, bringing you up to $80,400. And after adding in features like the M Driver’s Package and the Executive Package featuring such niceties as heated seats and steering wheel and that head-up display, my tester listed at $86,145 — including delivery charges.
At the moment, the question is whether you’ll be able to get away that “cheap.” With severe inventory shortages, be aware that plenty of dealers are adding mark-ups to MSRP.
Among the many crossovers BMW offers, the 2022 X4, in general, is a relatively niche product, and the more costly M variants even more so. But for those who want great performance in an SUV — and who like the coupe-like styling — it’s definitely worth checking out.