2019 BMW X4M 40i: The M is for Mom. Right?
Price: $69,170 as tested. Because she’s worth it. And she gets options, including Premium Package ($1,600), featuring heated seats and steering wheel, Executive Package ($2,850), for lots of safety features; Driving Assistance Package ($500), more safety features; 20-inch wheels ($995). More below.
Conventional wisdom: Motor Trend likes the “potent acceleration, sporty handling,” but not the “rough ride, lack of rear visibility and cargo capacity.”
Marketer’s pitch: “The most powerful letter in the world.”
Reality: Most powerful? Yeah, it’s definitely all about Mom. And you know she really wants one.
What it is: Here’s where I give the good people of BMW a conniption — the X4 is a really awesome hatchback.
But, seriously, when you take a crossover and shrink it, or a sports car and make it taller, and then round off the rear, you’re left with a Ford Maverick. (I lied when I said M was for Mom. It’s really for Maverick.)
A really awesome Maverick, but that’s still what I see if I look really hard.
Up to speed: But awesome it is. I gave colleague Graphic Artist 1.0 a ride home from work one evening, and as we turned onto the expressway, she started to comment on the smooth ride and sedate manners. “I could go to sleep right here.”
So I hit the Sport mode button, knocked the lever into shift mode, and put the accelerator closer to the floor.
“No sleeping,” I said. Sixty miles an hour should have arrived in 4.8 seconds, according to Motor Trend. Far higher speeds are easily achieved if you’re not careful, even on quiet country lanes. Commute times shrink rapidly, thanks to the 355-horsepower twin-turbo 3.0-liter M Performance inline 6. Maverick, it ain’t (except for the “inline 6” part).
On the road: That calm handling turns into full-tilt enjoyment with the flick of a wrist. Winding and humpy roads become a real treat, although the Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat seemed a little tired of gripping the door handle during one Saturday afternoon trip.The XDrive system helps keep the handling balanced and stuck to the road.
Shifty: The lever or paddles change eight gears wonderfully.
The transmission can be really abrupt during those early morning shifts out of the driveway when it’s cold, but I’m sure Sturgis Kids 1.0 through 4.0 would say the same about the Old Man himself in the morning. And the X4M more quickly and consistently shakes off the morning blahs than I. And because we’re all red-blooded Americans — Mom and apple pie, and we’re tired of this shifting stuff — automatic mode is perfectly fine as well.
Driver’s Seat: Front-seat passengers will enjoy all the delights that BMW has to offer. The power-operated Canberra beige Vernasca leather seats offer comfort and support, and the seat height makes viewing the road easy.
Friends and stuff: Rear-seat passengers won’t feel the love, though, if they’re as tall as lanky Sturgis Kid 4.0. Legroom for long legs requires compromise, and headroom requires a flexible neck. But it’s far better than the old Maverick.
Cargo space is 17.7 cubic feet with the rear seat up and 49.4 with it folded. Mom will need a minivan for the Costco runs.
Play some tunes: BMW is sticking with its dial-and-button infotainment operation, and that’s a good thing. But I’m finally getting past my thrall with this setup, and realizing that it can be a little cumbersome when Mr. Driver’s Seat is in a fickle mood.
Fishing around from station to station can be a pain — drivers have to stay in the stereo screen, and then hit the dial or button to start the tuning screen, and then change the station. A regular tuning dial would be one-touch operation, working in the background of the map. And most luxury brands are expanding to a pair of screens, while BMW is still in one.
But it beats heck out of a touchpad or some other dumb ideas I’ve encountered.
Still, sound from the Harman Kardon stereo system ($875) is excellent.
Fuel economy: I averaged about 22 mpg in some fast trips. Feed the BMW premium, duh.
Where it’s built: Spartanburg, S.C.
How it’s built: Consumer Reports gives the X4 a predicted reliability of 3 out of 5.
In the end: The X4M brings the speed of the M to more of the masses, whether those are moms, menfolk, or not-at-all-maternal females. It sure makes the ride a fun one, but the X4 doesn’t have a whole lot of space.