Curved roof triath­lete takes on com­peti­tors

ROAD TEST/ Sportier than its X3 cousin, BMW’s X4 M40i is quite some­thing to ex­pe­ri­ence in full-bore ac­tion, writes Phuti Mpyane

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

Much like Porsche Ma­can, Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe and Audi SQ5 TFSI it’s pitched against, the new BMW X4 M40i is pow­ered by a tur­bocharged 3.0l six-cylin­der en­gine that drives all four-wheels.

But this doesn’t au­to­mat­i­cally trans­form it into a gen­uinely dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion against its Teu­tonic ri­vals, which also hap­pen to be ex­clu­sively Ger­man.

Things start well, be­cause it looks rather good. It’s a more co­her­ent and daz­zling look this time around thanks in part to be­ing 81mm longer and 37mm wider than the car it re­places.

It’s also 30mm lower than the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion car and per­haps this adds to the con­tem­po­rary aes­thet­ics and pro­file that re­vives imag­i­na­tions of BMW’s ob­scure GT ranges.

Thank­fully, prac­ti­cal­ity isn’t placed on the back­burner. De­spite an ag­gres­sively slop­ing roof, its pow­ered rear hatch yawns wide to re­veal 525l of load­ing space. Each of its rear seats can also be split folded to in­crease space to 1,430l.

It’s also up to in­di­vid­ual tastes to whip up a stir-fry of be­spoke op­er­a­tional fea­tures through the now fa­mil­iar BMW pat­tern of con­ve­nience and lux­ury fea­tures buried deep inside an op­tions cat­a­logue. Our test car fea­tured a raft of op­tions, the most rec­om­mend­able be­ing Adap­tive LED head­lights, a tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor, Con­nect­edDrive ser­vices, Har­man Kar­don Sur­round sys­tem, high Beam as­sist, and, if you don’t in­tend do­ing any of­froad­ing, dou­ble spoke 21-inch al­loy wheels. Th­ese op­tions should en­hance com­fort and safety in line with what is ex­pected of the X4 M40i as a sports driver’s best bet in the line-up, which also of­fers X4 20i, 20d and M40d de­riv­a­tives.

Pe­cu­liarly, and de­spite thin rub­ber spec­i­fied as orig­i­nal equip­ment, BMW says it boasts ground clear­ance of 204mm and ford­ing depth of 500mm; break over an­gles of 19.4°; and de­par­ture and ap­proach an­gles of 25.7° and 22.6° re­spec­tively.

It’s all good and well that you can take it for romps down a dusty street and it should work well enough in such con­di­tions as equally as it did in the squarer X3.

It’s just that ev­ery­thing else about it, the sportier pro­file, 265kW and 500Nm out­puts, in­tel­li­gent xDrive plus two sports modes, oth­er­wise sug­gests you find a tan­ta­lis­ing rib­bon of tar­mac and un­leash it.

En­gage Eco Pro Mode and its com­puter brain de­ploys econ­omy-minded al­go­rithms to its Step­tronic trans­mis­sion. Gentler, ear­lier up-shifts and mea­sured throt­tle in­puts aim for low fuel con­sump­tion returns. BMW claims 9.2l-9.0l/100km and de­spite ab­so­lute re­straint on my the part, I could only muster 13l/100km. In this an­gelic mode the M40i is fault­less in road man­ner­isms. It also calms down with a mod­icum of the en­gine’s bari­tone bars al­lowed to fil­ter into the in­te­rior to keep things in­ter­est­ing.

Thumb in Sport Plus on its mood se­lec­tor and its ad­dic­tive per­for­mance al­ter-ego shines through. The dampers stiffen, but not bone-crush­ingly so, and it glides de­spite the ath­letic mode. It’s quite some­thing to ex­pe­ri­ence the M40i in full-bore ac­tion though. Thanks to a lower cen­tre of grav­ity and sports spe­cific tweaks to its sus­pen­sion, the turn-in, agility and body con­trol are no­tice­ably keener than in its X3 M40i sta­ble­mate.

Aside from its Step­tronic gearshifts still lag­ging be­hind Porsche’s PDK in whip-crack sharp­ness, the X4 M40i reels in the kilo­me­tres in a startling bru­tal­ity that de­fies its status as deputy of the range. We should be all the more cu­ri­ous of the Tur­bocharged six-cylin­der petrol Ca­pac­ity: 2,998cc Power: 265kW at 5,500r/min Torque: 500Nm at 4,300r/min Type: Step­tronic eight-speed au­to­matic Type: All-wheel drive in­sane thrills that lurk within the up­com­ing flag­ship, the X4M.

EN­GINE TRANS­MIS­SION DRIV­E­TRAIN PER­FOR­MANCE (claimed)

Top speed: 250km/h 0-100km/h: 4.8 sec­onds Fuel Con­sump­tion: 9.2l/100km (claimed), 13.2l/100km/h (as tested) Emis­sions: 210g/km

STAN­DARD FEA­TURES

Sport au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, Run­flat tyres, M Sport brakes, Sports seats, au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol, LED fog lights, Tele ser­vices, in­tel­li­gent emer­gency call­ing, Con­net­edDrive, Real Time Traf­fic In­for­ma­tion sys­tem, Park­ing as­sist, Dy­namic sta­bil­ity pro­gramme, hill-start as­sist, hill de­scent con­trol, brake en­ergy re­gen­er­a­tion with re­cu­per­a­tion dis­play, elec­tric power steer­ing, auto start/stop func­tion, op­ti­mum shift in­di­ca­tor, ECO PRO mode with coast­ing func­tion, six airbags, ABS brakes, M leather steer­ing wheel with mul­ti­func­tion but­tons, 19-inch M light al­loy wheels, M Sport sus­pen­sion, M Sport Dif­fer­en­tial, sport seats for driver and front pas­sen­ger in cloth/leather com­bi­na­tion, busi­ness nav­i­ga­tion

COST OF OWN­ER­SHIP

War­ranty: Five years/100,000km Main­te­nance Plan: Five years/100,000km Price: R1,144,185 Lease*: R24,405 per month

A bold new look height­ens the vis­ual ap­peal of the X4, be it on road or dirt.

A thor­ough air of lux­ury and so­phis­ti­ca­tion can be achieved by open­ing your wal­let for more op­tions.

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