Abe Simpson called us, because the 2022 BMW X4 M turned us into screamers on the tow. We know the market demands SUVs and understand that BMW’s M division loves to build track-focused performance machines with impossible capabilities. But perhaps there are some models that are better off without the M treatment, such as the X4.
Don’t get us wrong, we thoroughly enjoyed extracting our X4 M Competition specs from the 3.0-liter twin-turbo engine, making 503 horsepower (30 horsepower more than the regular X4 M). The latest iteration of the BMW S58 in a row is six absolute riots up to the 7200 rpm redline. And for 2022, the $81,595 X4 M Competition engine benefits from 37 lb-ft of torque (the $74,595 X4 M sees a jump of 15 lb-ft in torque).
With a torsion of 479 pounds, the X4 M Competition accelerates more aggressively than before. For the 2020 X4 M that we tested in late 2019, the 2022 torquier drove 0.2 seconds off the SUV’s 5 to 60 mph and 30 to 50 mph shift times, and shifted in 4.4 and 2.5 seconds, respectively. Meanwhile, its 3.0-second run from 50 to 70 mph was a 0.1 second improvement over its 2020 counterpart, as did its 3.2-second run to 60 mph.
Of course, the semi-intuitive eight-speed automatic transmission and the responsive all-wheel drive system deserve some credit for those numbers as well, with the former providing cover for initial turbine lag, while the latter ensuring the Bimmer launches with a bit of drama. But even with all-wheel drive, this cambered SUV packs enough to gently spin its front tires during full throttle launches.
Thanks to the inclusion of a $2,500 M driver package, the X4 M Competition tops out at 177 mph. The package is probably more worthwhile than the 22-mph increase in top speed, and also includes a one-day driving class at the BMW Performance Center.
Aided by the 21-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, the São Paulo yellow Beamer pulled 0.96g on the skateboard — the same number published by the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio we tested less than a year ago. Despite its impressive grip, the X4 M’s 4,555-pound weight and high center of gravity hold it back on more winding stretches of tarmac. Note that the 2022 X4 M Competition at the Lightning Lap 2022 event circled the Virginia International Racecourse in an impressive 3:02.9, but the more than 600-pound lighter 2022 M3 Competition xDrive sedan – which uses essentially the same powertrain as the competition X4 M – did. Astoundingly verb 2:53.5.
However, the sheer insanity of the X4 M Competition is a thrill in itself. Boot the throttle from the corner with the all-wheel drive system set to the rear-biased sport mode and the BMW’s massive tail end briefly emerges from controlled oversteer. Insert a tight corner into a decent clip and the inner rear wheel will rise, turning the high-powered X4 variant into a makeshift tripod. The M3 and M4 are undoubtedly superior tools on the back roads, but the X4 M Competition is still good for some fun in environments like these.
That’s despite its variable-ratio steering, which suffers from a small but noticeable amount of center play in Comfort mode, but feels artificially heavy when you switch to the Sport and Sport Plus settings. The brake pedal is highly sensitive at lower speeds too, and requires a gentle touch to prevent the calipers from biting hard on the 15.6-inch front and 14.6-inch rear rotors. Once the brake system starts to generate some heat, the pedaling action becomes more advanced.
The X4 M Competition’s big brakes are track-proven, working with summer rubber to stop the SUV from 70 mph in 154 ft. fade-free—a number on par with the 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing, though longer 7 feet off the width of the 2020 X4 M Competition’s 147 feet.
Although the fastback roofline and long rear end give it awkward proportions (which is exacerbated by the integrated roof rails), the X4 M’s exterior revisions significantly improve the model’s appearance. 0.4-inch slimmer headlights, reworked front and rear fascias with gloss black finishes, and a revised kidney grille design that’s less hog. However, we much prefer the Boxier style of the mechanically identical X3 M, which has the advantage of a more toned-down rear design that gives it an additional five cubic feet of cargo space.
Accompanying the X4 M’s exterior changes is an interior that includes a revised instrument panel to match the 12.3-inch touchscreen display – 2.0 inches larger than the previous unit – operating the latest BMW infotainment system setup and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with a revamped user interface. In addition, the cab features new climate controls, an updated center console that contains an on/off button, and several controls related to the driving mode. Although the transmission gets a new gear lever, the console-mounted unit continues to operate in a somewhat awkward fashion, with the reverse position up and to the left of the lever’s default position.
Some active safety equipment, such as blind spot monitors and a lane departure warning system, is standard on the X4 M. However, adaptive cruise control and lane centering are optional, part of the $1,700 Driving Assistance Professional package — an additional test worth $86,345 I did without the car. We feel these items should be standard on a car this price.
Heated front seats are also missing from the list of standard features. BMW bundles these into the $2,250 Executive Package, which includes a heated steering wheel, heated exterior rear seats, a head-up display, a 360-degree camera system, automatic parking capabilities, and easy-to-use and fairly reliable gesture controls for infotainment setup.
However, it was the X4’s harsh, performance-focused suspension setup that exasperated us the most. Although the adaptive dampers offer three modes to choose from (Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus), none of these settings significantly improve the X4 M Competition’s off-road suspension compliance. If you didn’t have your favorite chiropractor before climbing to the X4, you’ll be looking for a therapist by the time you graduate.
We’d argue that BMW’s M division should take its SUVs in a completely different direction than its cars. The X4 M competition doesn’t really need to channel the power of a track-focused sports car. Instead, it should carve its own identity like, say, a rally-inspired SUV: a vehicle that can hold its own on pavement but truly skip its steps on dirt and gravel roads. As the Ford F-150 Raptor and its ilk demonstrate, exhilarating performance and consistent suspension are not separate.
However, we also agree with the X4 M which largely follows the current SUV model, but trades in fixed suspension tuning for a more forgiving setup. Because if shaving milliseconds of your lap times is your top priority, the M3 and M4 serve your interests better. Or, another idea: Go with the X3 M40i that rides better (and costs about $23,000 less), then use the 4,400-pound drag rating to pull the nicely caged E30 into your favorite road courses. You won’t hit 60 mph as fast, but you’ll be more comfortable getting there.
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