BMW started the modern “coupe SUV” trend with the X6. Now that every major luxury brand has at least one in their lineup, BMW decided to add a second with the smaller X4. And while the unique styling of the X4 wasn’t enough to turn heads, it can now also “snap necks” with the 2021 BMW X4M Competition.
Engine – Under the hood of the X4M is an updated version of the S58 3.0L twin-turbocharged inline-6 cylinder engine. In the X4M, it produces 473 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque (353 kW & 599 Nm). However, this is not a standard X4M, this is the Competition which bumps the power to 503 hp (375 kW) with torque remaining the same. BMW claims a 0-100 km/h time of 4 seconds which is very impressive because despite the exterior size, the X4M Competition weighs 2,092 kg (4,590 lbs). However, to achieve that impressive time, you have to make sure that the rpm needle is in the correct rpm range. Below 2,000-ish rpms, the turbochargers struggle to build boost. Put your foot down and not much happens if you don’t let the transmission downshift. But at higher rpms, the engine feels much more alive & responsive. The power comes quickly and before you know it, the rpm needle is at the redline already. It’s also a very good sounding engine with aid from the active exhaust. Pops, bangs, crackles, it’s all there.
Unfortunately, it’s not a very economical engine. It is rated for 12.1 L/100km (19.4 MPG) on a highway and 16.6 L/100km (14.2 MPG) in a city. You can take some comfort from the fact that in the real world, you can achieve a combined fuel economy figure of around 14.5 L/100km (16.2 MPG) as I did.
Transmission – Like just about every other BMW model, the 2021 X4M Competition utilizes an 8-speed automatic transmission. This is an amazing transmission with smooth shifts when commuting around town and lightning quick shifts when you’re pushing it. It’s also quick to respond to your inputs should you want to take over with the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Braking – The BMW X4M Competition has some serious stopping power. Too serious for some. The brakes stop the 2+ tonne SUV with ease. Though they are not carbon ceramic, they are still very impressive. The brake pedal feels firm which gives you the confidence to brake late when driving enthusiastically. However, it’s a bit hard to perform smooth stops when you’re commuting around town.
Handling – You can almost mistake the BMW X4M Competition for a sports sedan because the steering response is lightning quick. The most minute inputs to the steering wheel quickly translate to movements in the front wheels. Furthermore, the steering feel is on the heavy side so it gives you the confidence to push the SUV through corners.
You can also feel the stiffness of the X4M’s chassis when driving enthusiastically around corners. The SUV has a near perfect 50/50 weight distribution. Everything about the way that this not-so-little SUV corners feels tight and responsive.
There’s also the AWD system that is primarily a RWD biased system. When it’s in M Dynamic mode, it allows for a bit of sliding of the rear wheels before stability control intervenes and more of the engine’s power is sent to the front wheels.
Ride Comfort – Because this is such a performance focused SUV, the ride does suffer. With the adaptive suspension in their softest setting, the ride is just barely bearable on city streets. Thankfully the X4M Competition is not equipped with run-flat tires but even so, I can feel my “man boobs” jiggling over rougher city streets. Obviously the shaky ride is worse when the suspension is switched to the Sport setting.
Interior Space – Coupe SUVs are supposed to offer more practicality than a coupe car and while that is true, they offer far less practicality than a traditional SUV. This BMW X4M Competition is no different with headroom and legroom being less than its X3M brother. In the front, there is enough room for a tall adult like myself at 6’4” but in the back legroom and headroom is tight.
Trunk volume is worse still with the X4M offering 524 L (18.5 cu-ft) with the seats up and 1,430 L (50.5 cu-ft) with the rear seats folded. That’s 289 L & 345 L (10.2 & 12.2 cu-ft) less cargo volume respectively than the BMW X3M.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – Squeaks and rattles in the X4M are non-existent but road noise is quite evident on highways. The X4M can also be equipped with an active exhaust system that dramatically changes the engine noise. It is pretty quiet when the exhaust valve is closed and the engine is in Comfort mode but it becomes much louder with the valves open and the engine in Sport+ mode. It sounds like a roaring lion with pops & crackles when lifting off the throttle.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – The X4M Competition starts at $95,600 CAD ($73,400 USD) but because this is a BMW, it doesn’t come fully loaded at that price point. If you want things like heated front & rear seats, surround view cameras, ventilated front seats, & wireless phone charging, you can opt for the Premium package for $3,150 CAD. This particular demo vehicle had the Ultimate package equipped which added extras such as the M Driver’s package, M Carbon exterior package, and Driving assistant plus. The Ultimate package costs $10,000 CAD. But wait, there’s more! There are also a few stand-alone options on this demo vehicle which include red brake calipers, carbon fiber interior trim, and metallic paint. When it’s all said & done, the final as equipped price is $108,095 CAD ($89,790 USD) before fees & taxes. Of course the packages & stand-alone options differ slightly between the Canadian & American markets.
Interior Design – The 2021 BMW X4M Competition follows the same formula as all other BMW SUVs with an almost identical interior design language. A full digital display is right in front of the driver with M1 & M2 buttons on the nicely contoured steering wheel. The infotainment touchscreen measures 10.3” and is responsive to all of your touches or you can control it by the rotary knob on the center console. Climate controls have their own physical buttons for quick and easy access. All in all, BMW vehicles may not have the most flashy interiors when compared to the Mercedes rivals but it’s all functional.
The 2022 BMW X4M Competition sees some updates with the most notable being a larger 12.3” touchscreen.
Exterior Design – The X4M Competition looks like a very sporty SUV. The addition of the large 21” wheels, carbon fiber trim pieces, and the subtle lip spoiler makes the X4M turn heads pretty much wherever it goes. The coupe bodystyle will not appeal to everyone but there is a market out there because I’m noticing more and more coupe SUVs on the roads.
The 2022 BMW X4M Competition sees a few exterior styling updates, primarily to the front bumper. Thankfully, depending on how you look at it, it does not receive the large grille of the new BMW 4-series… even though I’m in the minority when I say that I like it.
Warranty – BMW warranty is on par with other German luxury brands. 4 years / 80,000 km new vehicle & powertrain coverage. Perforation (corrosion) warranty is 12 years / unlimited km. For more information on BMW warranty, click here.
Overall, the 2021 BMW X4M Competition is basically a tall riding BMW sedan. It has amazing driving dynamics, it looks stylish, and it’s definitely more practical than a car coupe. But personally I’m not completely sold on the idea of a coupe SUV. If I were looking for an SUV, it means that I’m looking for something practical and the X3M is more practical than the X4M. That’s the one I’d go for. However, as I stated earlier, coupe SUVs have their niche as I’m noticing more and more of them on the roads.
Thank you to BMW Canada for providing the vehicle. www.BMW.ca