It’s early January and I am ready to cross off another item from my Bucket List – a trip into the Alps at the BMW Driving Experience. My goal was to learn how to properly drive in the snow and on ice.
After a quick conversation with BMW and MINI Driving Experience folks in Munich, I was “made an offer I couldn’t refuse” – Come to Austria and immerse yourself into one-of-a-kind experience. Only a couple of things were required of me – pack your winter gear and have a driver’s license.
After a quick flight from Chicago to Munich, I find myself in the hometown of BMW which, as always, requires a visit to the BMW Welt and Museum, a must for any tourist going to Munich. Sölden is about two and a half hours from Munich, so the folks at the BMW Press Center have reserved for me a 2019 BMW X4 M40i.
Larger Size, Similar Design
Just like most recent BMWs, the new X4 has gained some width and length – 81 mm longer and 37 mm wider than the outgoing mode, its wheelbase has been stretched a further 54 mm while also providing 27 mm more rear legroom. The roof is also 3 mm closer to the ground than before which BMW says it plays in a role in the sporty character of the X4.
Despite its larger size, the CLAR platform used in new BMWs helps the G02 X4 shave off about 110 lbs of weight (50 kg). Although the the X4 and the new X3 share the same chassis and components, the new G02 X4 was built to fit the profile of a more dynamic and thrills-seeker driver, so most of the fine engineering happened under the hood and in the underpinnings.
Inside is where the first X4 shows its age, and while the new generation G02 X4 follows on the steps of its X3 brother, the quality of finishes and materials inside the cabin is what stands out immediately. It’s also better looking, and it can be had with BMW’s Individual treatment. The sport seats are standard on the X4 M40i and there is also a new optional Vernasca leather.
The free floating touchscreen is standard and measure 10.3 inches in width and sits atop the center console. Other add-ons include electroplated trim, three-zone climate control, ventilated seats, ambient lighting, sun blind, Apple CarPlay ( Android Auto is still missing) and a Wi-Fi hotspot that can accommodate up to 10 devices.
The new BMW X4 uses the B58 engine making 355 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The power is sent to all wheels via the ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic. According to BMW, the X4 M40i can get from 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds, which is the same as the X3 M40i.
Along with the brawnier engine, the X4 M40i comes with the usual Adaptive M Suspension, M Sport brakes and M Sport Exhaust Systems. Standard, the X4 M40i rides on 19 inch tires wrapped around M Performance wheels, but our tester came with the mandatory winter tires.
Like a proper test car, our 2019 BMW X4 M40i M40i was loaded with M Performance brakes and the optional M Sport differential, which enables greater traction and speeds while exiting corners.
The trip kicks off in Munich and leads me onto the always fun Autobahn. As always, the driving behavior of the X4 M40i can be altered with a push of a button, cycling through the usual Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus modes which define the throttle response, suspension stiffness, gear shifting and the exhaust noise.
Most of the driving on the Autobahn was done in Comfort which was comforting – pun intended – and exactly what I needed after a long flight.
The closer I get to the Austrian Alps, the more idyllic the scenery gets, and funner the road becomes. Through the curvy country roads, the X4 has immediately impressed us with its steering feedback. While we loved the X3 M40i’s behavior on and off the track, the new X4 is clearly a step ahead when it comes to precision, weight and input. Aided by the M differential, the new X4 feels lighter on its feet and borrows the capabilities of a sedan rather than a crossover.
Now it’s time to test the Sport and Sport Plus modes which aim to put a smile on every driver’s face. Soon after switching the driving mode, the exhaust immediately gets louder while intentionally backfiring providing some beautiful music to our ears.
The Sport Plus mode further sharpens the car, pushing you easily and quickly in the back of the extra supportive sport seats. Shifting is flawless, thanks to the always evolving ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, and the sync with the gas pedal is perfect as well.
On a fairly snowy and icy surface, the M Sport brakes shine and the xDrive along with the winter tires provide plenty of grip to safely stay on tarmac.
Needless to say, the BMW X4 M40i is the top choice when it comes to the X4 family, a car that it’s not as brutal as the upcoming X4 M, but yet still sporty enough for most customers. It combines a stylish design with the utility of a crossover and decent space in the back, while providing the latest and greatest tech found in the new BMW models.