Right now, the BMW X4 is one of the brand’s hottest cars, oddly enough. It’s the newest ‘SAC’ (Sports Activity Coupe, in BMW-speak) and its M40i variant is one of the more exciting cars in BMW’s lineup. So, naturally, it’s generating some buzz. However, is the less expensive, less powerful BMW X4 xDrive30i actually the one to buy?

In this recent article from the Wall Street Journal, the case is made that the lesser of the two X4s is actually the one to buy. There’s no question that the BMW X4 M40i is the faster, more exciting and more thrilling of the two to drive. Its B58 3.0 liter turbocharged inline-six engine, making 355 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, is a masterpiece of an engine, delivering silky-smooth waves of instant forward thrust. However, it’s much more expensive.

The X4 M40i costs a whopping $10,000 more to start, which makes it much more expensive. Yes, you do get a lot more speed with that but, honestly, how often is that speed used in the real world? Plus, the little turbo four-pot in the X4 xDrive30i is no slouch. Packing 248 hp and a claimed 0-60 time of 6-seconds (it’s likely in the mid-fives, realistically), it’s a bit of an overachiever and it feels punchier than its spec sheet suggests.

If you get the M Sport package, which adds a few thousand dollars to the sticker price, it comes with some sportier looks, which will make it look almost as exciting as the still much more expensive M40i. If you’re worried about handling, though, know that even the BMW X4 xDrive30i comes with sport suspension as-standard.

To argue the contrary, though, the BMW X4 M40i comes with a lot more standard features than the xDrive30i. In fact, it will cost you almost the $60,000 starting price of the M40i just to spec the xDrive30i to the same level. So, for that money, you’re really only paying a few thousand dollars more for the M40i’s superior engine.

To be honest, if it were my money, I’d personally go for the M40i. Most of these cars are leased and the M40i won’t cost bank-breaking money extra on top of its lesser sibling. And if you can afford a BMW SAC like the X4, it’s likely the extra money isn’t going to hurt you anyway. It’s the better car, has the better engine and, especially when considering the substantially better as-standard kit, seems like the better value.

[Source: Wall Street Journal]