The 2020 BMW X4 M is an unorthodox premium compact crossover, yet follows in a rich BMW tradition. The tradition of BMW’s M division taking the company’s regular cars and turning them into high-performance thrill machines started with the original M3 back in the 1980s.
The first thing that is unusual about the X4 M is that it’s a crossover, not the typical kind of vehicle that tends to be associated with high-performance fun. The second is its roofline. Instead of the normal, headroom-friendly approach, this one takes a sharper trajectory toward the tail. Some might call it a fastback, but the BMW marketing department would call it a 4-door coupe. The X4 is based on the X3, which does have the more conventional roof.
The third aspect is that even though we’re now into the second generation of X4 and there is a somewhat sporty M40i trim, there’s never been a proper card-carrying M model until now. An M vehicle receives a specially tuned chassis to complement its extra muscle, more aerodynamic additions and stronger brakes.
With so much power in the engine bay and reduced practicality in the luggage area, the X4 M is always going to be a specialist vehicle. But some people are going to love this particular driving experience with the performance-oriented all-wheel-drive system and the raised driving position. A traditional sports car can’t provide the same combination.
The regular BMW X4 is reviewed separately.
What’s New for 2020?
The X4 M is completely new this year. It’s the first time an X4 has received the full M treatment. This generation of X4 debuted for the 2019 model year. See the 2020 BMW X4 M models for sale near you
What We Like
- Fabulous engine
- Superb chassis
- A true driver’s machine
What We Don’t
- No Android Auto smartphone integration
The X4 M has a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 developing 473 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. The Competition version is tuned to make 503 hp, but torque remains the same.
An 8-speed automatic transmission sends that energy to a standard all-wheel-drive system. And an automatic stop/start feature helps save some fuel while standing at idle.
Fuel consumption estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are 14 miles per gallon in the city, 19 mpg on the highway and 16 mpg in combined driving. This applies to both engine versions.
Standard Features & Options
The 2020 BMW X4 M is available in regular and Competition variants.
The X4 M ($74,395) has 20-in alloy wheels, keyless entry/ignition, adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams, LED daytime running lights/taillights, rain-sensing wipers, roof rails, a panoramic moonroof with powered sunshade, heated side mirrors, quad exhaust tailpipes, an aerodynamic body kit, forward-collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, front/rear parking sensors, selectable driving modes, active M Sport differential, adaptive M-tuned suspension, M Compound brakes, heated/14-way power-adjustable front seats with driver’s-side memory settings, leather upholstery, 12.3-in digital driver information display, self-dimming rearview and driver’s-side mirrors, ambient LED cabin lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, 40/20/40 split/fold rear seats, powered lift gate with hands-free operation, universal garage door opener, 10.25-in infotainment touchscreen, navigation with real-time traffic updates, Bluetooth phone/audio, Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, satellite/HD radio, two USB ports, 20 GB of audio storage and a 16-speaker/600-watt Harman Kardon surround-sound system.
The X4 M Competition ($81,395) adds the extra horsepower, plus 21-in alloy wheels, an M Sport exhaust system, high-gloss black exterior accents (for example, grille surround and side mirror caps) and nicer-quality leather upholstery.
An Executive package for both models brings a head-up display, Wi-Fi, wireless charging, gesture control for the infotainment system, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and a self-parking function for parallel and perpendicular spaces.
The Driving Assistance Plus package adds adaptive cruise control with stop/go and extended collision mitigation.
An M Driver’s package consists of a day’s tuition in high-performance driving at one of BMW’s selected tracks and raising the top speed to 173 mph in the X4 M, or 177 mph in the Competition. Other options include ventilated front seats and a carbon fiber front strut tower brace.
Behind the rear seats, luggage space measures 18.5 cu ft. When they’re folded down, maximum cargo area expands to 50.5 cu ft.
The X4 has not been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, the X3 (which is virtually the same vehicle except for the roof) is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+.
It’s reassuring to see plenty of standard safety equipment in the 2020 X4 M going beyond the mandatory requirements. For example, the brake discs measure 15.6 inches up front and 14.6 inches at the rear. A standard X4 has 13-in discs at each corner. It’s only sensible to match increased engine power with greater stopping power.
Behind the Wheel
The 2020 X4 M has something called Performance Control. It’s part of the all-wheel-drive system. The default setup is for most of the power to go to the rear wheels, delivering the well-known and highly regarded sporty feel. But the system can also direct power between the axles within milliseconds, should conditions demand.
Where Performance Control comes in is to vary the amount of torque from one side to the other — in other words, torque vectoring. It allows an outside wheel to go faster than its corresponding inside wheel, making cornering more efficient and stable.
Standard equipment also includes an M Sport differential. This clever piece of engineering makes it possible to get on the power early once past a corner’s apex. Doing so will generate lateral acceleration forces (also known as fun). BMW adds knee pads to the sides of the center console for extra comfort.
A carbon fiber brace running between the front suspension strut towers is optional and worth considering. It stiffens the front end a touch more, bringing beneficial effects to steering response and feel.
In terms of straight-line speed, the X4 M runs from standstill to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds — the extra muscle in the Competition version results in a time of 4 seconds flat. Not so long ago, those numbers would have been impressive in sports cars. The X4 M is a 5-seater compact crossover with a raised driving position and a curb weight of around 2.3 tons.
Controlling that speed is a strong braking system and a well-tuned adaptive suspension that makes the X4 M behave like a smaller and lower vehicle. And the engine configuration of six cylinders in a row (as opposed to a vee) is classic BMW, with an inherent smoothness as part of the deal.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio — Stylish and swift, with 505 hp. We’ve driven it on a racetrack and it was wonderful.
2020 Jaguar F-Pace SVR — Pricey, but has 550 hp and looks arguably stunning. Superb chassis as well.
2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63/GLC 63 S Coupe — Another premium compact crossover with a fastback and a high-performance reason for being. The 63 makes 469 hp, the 63 S comes with 503 hp.
2020 Porsche Macan Turbo — At around $85,000, it’s no performance bargain. And 434 hp isn’t impressive in this company. However, it’s still quick and endowed with Porsche’s renowned handling abilities. There’s also more rear headroom than an X4 M.
We would normally recommend any extra driver aids, but the X4 M has the main ingredients (forward-collision mitigation and a blind spot monitoring system) as standard. So we’ll leave the Driving Assistance Plus package to the buyer’s discretion.
Another option that could be skipped is the M Driver’s package. Sure, more driving education and experience can never be bad, but not every customer will find the tracks’ locations convenient. And is a top speed of 177 mph really necessary? Find a BMW X4 M for sale