2022 BMW X4 M Competition Review: M Performance For The Family

At one point while driving the 2022 BMW X4 M Competition ($81,595 MSRP), heading north on 330 towards Big Bear Lake, an overwhelming sense of conflict washed over me. It was as if my brain didn’t want to accept that I was comfortably carving my way up the mountain road, enjoying every cambered turn, but doing so in a high-waisted crossover. The X4 M, like any sporty crossover, is compromised. It is undeniable, however, that BMW’s fastest X model ever has incredible performance on tap.

The Engine

Even in its most basic form, the X4 M’s engine is capable of 473 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque and is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and xDrive all-wheel drive. Splurge for the $7,000 Competition package and you’ll get a total of 503 horses and 479 ft-lbs of torque.

Thanks to the M3/M4-sourced turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six powerplant, complete with the lighter crankshaft to help raise the torque stats, the X4 M Competition now has a 0-60 mph time of 3.9-seconds. An impressive feat considering the engine has to shift 4,555 lbs from a standstill. If you keep your right foot planted on the accelerator, the X4 M Competition will go on to a restricted top speed of 177 mph.

My time in the X4 M was limited to stretches of California highways and a handful of mountain roads, so I never went anywhere near the V-max. As a consolation, I got very acquainted with the plentiful amounts of torque, which peaks at a lowly 2,750 rpm and stays relatively flat from there.

Accelerating out of low-speed corners, I was never searching for power in the upper reaches of the rev range. Maximum horsepower comes in at 6,250 rpm (not far from the 7,200 rpm redline) but I never felt the need to go that high with all the usable thrust available at more sensible engine speeds.

In The Driver’s Seat

At first glance, the X4 M’s interior leans more towards the luxury SUV side of the spectrum than it does track-focused four-door. Swaths of brown leather and the Live Cockpit Professional 3D digital display adopted from the M8 welcome you as soon as you open the door. It’s clear the M division engineers couldn’t help themselves.

As with all modern M cars, the X4 M Competition allows you to customize and fine-tune almost every aspect of the driving experience. Engine responsiveness, steering weight, suspension stiffness, and the exhaust note are all adjustable as if BMW couldn’t decide what kind of car it wanted to build, leaving the owner with the burden of choice.

Initially, it’s a bit overwhelming and overcomplicated, but once you find your preferred settings you can save them and easily access that particular profile via one of the red “M-mode” buttons on the steering wheel. There are two buttons allowing you to save two wildly different driving styles. I found it useful to save one profile with all the aspects set almost exclusively to the most sporty setting, with the second profile tuned to the softer, more passive settings.

On The Road

While staying at The Outpost, driving around town in Big Bear Lake traffic, even with the most easy-going settings, the X4 M rides a bit too stiff. In an effort to maximize corner speeds and lateral load capacities, the M division engineers over-tuned the dampers and added extra bracing to the strut towers. Add in 21-inch wheels and low-profile performance tires with rock-solid side walls, and you’ll quickly develop a phobia for potholes.

If the quality of tarmac is agreeable and the road remains twisty, as it does on Route 330 heading towards Big Bear Lake, the overly-taut chassis becomes a supporting character. The X4 M is surprisingly planted and hides its high center of gravity well while linking one corner to the next. BMW’s adaptive steering felt numb at times but it was always direct and responsive.

Taming the torque and horsepower is BMW’s full-time all-wheel-drive system M xDrive, which, to a degree, can also be tuned to your liking. Torque is constantly shared and shifted between the front and rear tires and in 4WD- Sport mode, there’s a power bias to the rear wheels. From there, the M Active Differential divvies the torque between the two rear wheels to increase the rear-drive attitude while keeping the AWD control.

Simply put, the X4 M Competition defies expectations. Even with the low-slung fastback coupe styling, there’s no escaping the clumsy crossover vibes. How the engineers at BMW managed to get a 4,555-pound compact SUV to hustle in and out of corners with a respectable pace beggars belief. Equip the X4 M with the Competition package and hold the stat sheet next to the M3/M4’s and it’s even more impressive. Even with the extra heft, the X4 M keeps the flagship sports car honest.

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