There will be a proper M-version of BMW’s next small coupé SUV
The new BMW X4 hasn’t even been released yet, but a proper M-version of the car has already been spied testing. The basic SUV-cum-coupé is likely to be released early this year and will share many components with the current BMW X3. The full reveal of the high-performance X4 M is likely to follow a few months later.
There was outrage from purists and enthusiasts back when BMW’s M-division revealed its first performance SUV, the X6 M. Not only was it a cumbersome SUV, it was four-wheel drive and turbocharged – the antithesis of what BMW M had previously stood for. But now, after only nine short years the prospect of high-riding 4x4s wearing an M-badge is far less exceptional. And, thanks to the new BMW M3’s engine and the latest M5’s drivetrain, we’ve been conditioned to find turbocharged engines and four-wheel drive almost conventional in an M-car.
So now the news of an X4 M joining the performance BMW line-up won’t cause many people dismay, no matter what transmission and driveline it’s fitted with. While we can be quite sure the performance X4 M will have four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox when it’s finally revealed, we’re less certain what engine the X4 M will be fitted with. It could be equipped with the twin-turbo straight-six from the M3 and M4, or it may get only get a single twin-scroll turbo engine as found in the M2. Either way, we would expect the power to be over 300kW.
The tell-tale sign that the spied SUV is no ordinary X4 is the quad tailpipes poking out from the rear bumper, only proper M-cars get four exhausts. If this were a test car for the X4 M40i model, an M-performance car like the BMW M240i and X3 M40i and not a full M-car, it would only sport two outlets from either side of the bumper.
Even though it’s mostly disguised by a jazzy black and white pattern, we can see the X4 M’s styling doesn’t look all that dramatic, sadly. It doesn’t have a wider body, there are no flared wheel arches, nor are there any wings or spoilers of note. The front bumper does feature multiple wide openings, suggesting the engine will need plenty of air to keep it cool, which adds a degree aggression to its appearance. At the back, the bumper neatly drapes around the four telltale exhaust outlets.
Often M-cars are treated to wide, large diameter wheels with a distinctive design. However, although relatively big, the rims on this X4 M test car look plain like they’re from a luxury model rather than a top-of-the-range performance car. That could well be just because this is a cold-weather test mule and the final production version will get some more suitable wheels for an M-car.
Under the distinctly mediocre wheels are a set of more interesting brakes than normal. Both the front and rear discs are drilled as well as vented, unlike the purely vented discs found on the BMW X3 M40i. However, the calipers – four-pot on the front and single piston items on the rear – look to be the same as the ones on the X3 M40i.
BMW’s current small performance SUV, the X3 M40i, is a competent, refined and brisk 4×4, but it feels too tightly constrained and lacks the fun and exuberance that’s evident in some of its rivals. A car, such as the X4 M, based on the same platform with more power and with more significant input from BMW’s M-engineers, has the potential to be a real class leader.