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BMW X4 M Competition (2022) review

BMW updates its X4 M with more torque and tweaked styling. Has it done enough to earn that M badge?

Neil Briscoe

Words: Neil Briscoe - @neilmbriscoe

Published on: December 10, 2021

Words: Neil Briscoe - @neilmbriscoe

Published on: December 10, 2021

Tech Specs

Model testedBMW X4 M Competition
Irish pricing€158,855 as tested; X4 starts at €73,605
Engine3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight-six petrol
Transmissioneight-speed automatic gearbox, four-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions238-247g/km
Irish motor tax€2,400 per annum
Combined economy26.1mpg (10.8 litres/100km)
Top speed285km/h
0-100km/h3.8 seconds
Max power510hp at 6,250rpm
Max torque650Nm at 2,750-5,500rpm
Boot space525-1,430 litres
SafetyEuro NCAP rating for BMW X4

The BMW X4 M Competition is bombastic, ballistic and brawny. Is it actually any good to drive, though? We tested the updated model in its homeland.

In the metal

BMW has made some exterior changes to the X4 range, lining it up with the changes made to the closely-related X3. Those changes include a new front bumper with dramatic air intakes at the outer edges for this X4 M Competition version, deeper, squarer grilles, slimmer headlights that come with adaptive LED tech (and BMW's laser light lamps are an option), new LED brake lights, a new rear spoiler made of carbon-fibre, a chunky rear diffuser and forged alloy wheels in a mean-looking black finish. If you want a car that looks intimidating, then the X4 M is your man.

Pretty, though? Nope - in fact, we'd go as far as to say that the X4 M is downright ugly. The front end is OK, but that sloping roofline and the long, tapering rear end seriously lack for elegance. Added to which is the frankly objectionable 'Sao Paulo Yellow' paint, which, while we're all for brighter exterior colour choices around here, frankly makes the X4 M look like someone wearing a bulky hi-vis jacket.

Things are much, much better on the inside. The current generation of X4 has always had one of the better cabins around - quality levels are excellent, and here in the X4 M the whole ambience is ramped up with high-backed bucket seats, the ones with the illuminated M logo in the headrest, nicked from the M4 and M3 (although the huge nodule that sits between your legs and is meant to make it look more like a proper racing bucket seat is a bit... questionable). The digital instrument screen gets a specific M layout, which puts a big rev counter front and centre, while there's a new galvanised-look trim for the dashboard and new air vents too. Down on the 'island' of the centre console, there's more borrowing from the M4 and M3 with a stubby selector for the eight-speed automatic gearbox, and a big, red engine-start button.

Space in the back is surprisingly good - of course, that roofline robs some headroom, and the centre rear seat is close to pointless, but for the outer seat passengers in the back there's decent comfort and legroom. The view out is a touch truncated, mind, thanks to the shallow glass. The boot is actually very spacious, with 525 litres of space up to the luggage cover, and only really lacks if you're trying to pack it to the (sloping) roof.

Driving it

As well as borrowing its paintwork and some interior bits from the new M4 and M3 Competition models, the X4 M also gets the same 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six petrol engine as those cars. Thanks in part to a lighter crankshaft, this version of the B58 engine develops an extra 50Nm of torque compared to the previous X4 M, so the maximum figures are now 510hp and 650Nm.

That's a lot, even in a car that tips the scales at 2,085kg, but even with that weight, the X4 M is ballistically quick. It takes just 3.8 seconds to get to 100km/h from a standstill, which for a car that can (just about) seat five and (just about) carry all the luggage you need seems faintly ludicrous. Those rear-seat passengers will be less worried about headroom and more about finding some sickbags once the xDrive four-wheel drive and the launch control of the eight-speed automatic gearbox get their thing on. No question - the X4 M Competition is bonkers quick.

It also feels more like an overt performance car than most. That sounds odd, I know, but whereas you could - in theory - drive the new M3 in a relaxed enough fashion to never know nor realise its astonishing potency, the X4 M feels constantly on edge. While the engine runs cleanly at low speeds, this is not a car that feels happy around town, grumbling and fidgeting over small bumps and lumps and making it very clear that it wants to be taken for a good run on the Autobahn. There are so many customisable settings, not to mention the M1 and M2 pre-set buttons on the steering wheel, that it's easy to get lost in just how you want to have the car configured, but in any mode the X4 M is not one for hanging around.

Thankfully, our test drive took place in the environs of Munich, so a sprint out on the Autobahn was very much part of our plans. First, though, some twisty roads, and here the news is mixed.

Clearly, you're going to get from one apex to the next at truly ludicrous speeds. There's so much torque on offer, and the eight-speed gearbox so good at finding the right gear for the task, that you'll never spend too long waiting for another corner. The X4 M steers with precision - as you'd expect - and there's hardly any body lean. The corollary of that, though, is that the ride quality - even in the softest settings of the adaptive damping - is way too firm. On smooth German roads, it felt uncouth, so quite what it would make of Irish roads doesn't even bear thinking about. There's a level to which all performance cars are going to be rather stiffly sprung, but the X4 M steps over the line that separates firm-but-comfortable into so-hard-you-can't-enjoy-it-properly. The X4 M spends so much time dealing with anything less than a perfectly smooth stretch of tarmac that you struggle to actually enjoy your driving.

Surely, then, once on the Autobahn all will be well? The combination of that get-out-of-mein-way paint, all the torque in the world and the uprated compound brakes (for when a dawdling camper van pulls into the outside lane) should make this the veritable staff car for the Autobahn Aggressor Corps?

Sadly, not. Now, in fairness, it could be down to the particular road surface of the particular stretch of the A9 Autobahn we were driving on, but the X4 M felt even less happy stretching its engine's legs here. The suspension is so stiff that at high speeds, it's transmitting too much vertical pitch through to the body, and so the X4 M begins to 'porpoise' in a horribly uncomfortable fashion as the speeds rise. On the same day, on the same stretch of 'Bahn, we tested the new M240i Coupe, the M440i Gran Coupe and the X3 xDrive30d - all sat solidly and happily at over 200km/h. The X4 M felt like it was going to throw itself over the central divider... It was not nice.

What you get for your money

OK, so an M car is never going to be cheap, but the X4 M just doesn't seem like good value for money. For €158,855 you do get every toy possible in the cabin, including a new, larger central touchscreen with live connected services. You can use your mobile phone as an electronic key, you get a digital 'Hey, BMW' voice assistant as well as the option to integrate Amazon's Alexa system. Merino leather trim is standard, with the option to upgrade to a BMW Individual interior package. You also get a banging Harmon-Kardon sound system, cloud-based BMW built-in navigation, an optional parking assistant that can record and repeat specific manoeuvres and a forward-facing camera that also acts as a dashcam in case of accident.

The problem is that for €158,855 you could have the new M3 saloon and change, and the M3 is a vastly superior car to drive. There are other good options, too...

Summary

Really, the whole concept of a high-performance SUV is a bit ridiculous - all of the weight is in the wrong place, and you can only cheat the laws of physics for so long. The BMW X4 M Competition is proof of that ridiculousness. The engine is a glorious thing, and the cabin quality is close to peerless, but the handling and ride are, at best, mixed and it's expensive too. If you want a high-powered M car with a practical boot, why not just wait a few months until the M3 Touring arrives?



Alternatives

Car Reviews | Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio (2021) | CompleteCar.ie
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio vs. BMW X4 M Competition (2022): the Alfa has just as much power as the X4 M, is just as quick, but twice as pretty and sweeter to drive. A slam-dunk for the Alfa.

Car Reviews | Jaguar F-Pace SVR (2021) | CompleteCar.ie
Jaguar F-Pace SVR vs. BMW X4 M Competition (2022): the F-Pace has even more power than the Beemer, is a bigger car and actually slightly more affordable. Unbelievable noise from the V8 engine, too.

Car Reviews | Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S Coupe | CompleteCar.ie
Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 Coupe vs. BMW X4 M Competition (2022): the Merc has a similar style to the X4, but is easier on the eye. The mighty V8 turbo engine is addictive, and it rides more smoothly than the car from Munich.

Tech Specs

Model testedBMW X4 M Competition
Irish pricing€158,855 as tested; X4 starts at €73,605
Engine3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight-six petrol
Transmissioneight-speed automatic gearbox, four-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions238-247g/km
Irish motor tax€2,400 per annum
Combined economy26.1mpg (10.8 litres/100km)
Top speed285km/h
0-100km/h3.8 seconds
Max power510hp at 6,250rpm
Max torque650Nm at 2,750-5,500rpm
Boot space525-1,430 litres
SafetyEuro NCAP rating for BMW X4