BMW X4 M Competition review

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Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

BMW's X4 M Competition is a sleek 510hp SUV powerhouse. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Review

If you need lap time but you've a labrador in tow, BMW's X4 M Competition claims to have your back. Think of this car as an M4 SUV - because that's what it is


BMW's M motorsport division has lately been specialising in making SUVs. Until a few years ago, there were only the X5 M and X6 M models. But now we also have the awesome XM Plug-in Hybrid and two other contenders, the X3 M Competition and its sleeker stablemate, this car, the X4 M Competition.

As you might guess, those latter two models are basically the same car, the X4 variant simply endowed with a lower roof line and a sleeker look. It makes more of a statement in other words. Which, if you're spending around £90,000 on a 510hp SUV powerhouse, will probably appeal.

Driving Experience

The X4 M Competition differs from its X3 Competition stablemate only in its use of a wider rear track. Otherwise, everything's much the same. So you get the brand's 'S58'-series high performance straight-six 3.0-litre twin turbo unit borrowed from the M3 and M4 Competition models, which for our market only comes only in top 'Competition' spec. That means 510hp and 650Nm of torque, figures that no other BMW six cylinder engine in history has surpassed.

It's quite a powerplant, with a forged crankshaft, an indirect intercooler, a lightweight cylinder head and twin monoscroll turbo chargers boosting at up to 2.3 bar. Which first means that when you hit the big red starter button, it sounds satisfyingly snarly. And second of course guarantees that it's also very, very fast. Helped by launch control, 62mph from rest is just 3.8s away en route to a top speed which would probably be in the 180mph region if the limiter didn't click in at 155 mph.

As with all proper M cars, you use the central screen to set up your preferences for engine response, exhaust note, stability intervention and the change times of the M Steptronic 8- speed paddleshift auto gearbox. Then save your favourite settings into the twin red M buttons mounted on the steering wheel.

And in terms of drive dynamics? Well even if you happen to disapprove of the idea of BMW's M division meddling with an X4 SUV, you can't deny that the job has been done properly here - even before you start looking beneath the bonnet. The steel coil suspension has been fully re-tuned, the brakes are uprated, the steering upgraded and an actively locking rear differential added. Plus there's the highly configurable four-wheel-drive system from the current BMW M5.

Design and Build

As you might expect, the visual changes which set this X4 M Competition model apart from humbler X4s are predictably subtle. There are M-specific front and rear aprons. And your eye will be drawn to the vertically arranged and elongated side air intakes, framed by trim elements in high-gloss black, which is also used for the caps of the aerodynamically-optimised M exterior mirrors and the characteristic M gills integrated in the air breathers. You get big 21-inch wheels and, as with the M4, there's a multi-channel rear diffuser, which incorporates a pair of chrome tailpipes on either side.

Inside, there are M Sport seats which have electrically adjustable head rests and an illuminated M logo. The air vents have galvanised trim and the dashboard and doors get carbon fibre inserts. The M leather multi-function steering wheel features contrast stitching in the BMW M colours and an open 6 o'clock spoke. The key difference though, with the interior of this M Competition model is the re-designed control island on the centre console, which includes two extra buttons in addition to the M gear selector with its Drivelogic rocker switch: these being the BMW Controller and the red engine start button. As with other M cars, two individually configured versions of your favoured M drive set-up can be permanently stored and retrieved at any time using the two red M buttons on the steering wheel.

As with lesser X4 variants, you get the brand's 'Live Cockpit Professional' screen arrangement, with both instrument display and central monitor being 12.3-inches in size. The instrument display offers, amongst other things, an 'M View' with specific displays (adopted from the BMW M8). M-specific content is also available with the optional Head-up display. Otherwise, it's pretty much as with every other X4. Despite the sloping roof line, there's reasonable headroom in the back and comfortable space for a couple of adults. Plus you get a decently shaped 525-litre boot (25-litres down on the X3 version) which can be extended to 1,430-litres by folding the 40:20:40-split rear bench.

Market and Model

The X4 M Competition retails at around £91,000 and is £1,760 pricier than its X M Competition stablemate. Of course, as the two cars are mechanically identical, it's only fair to see them priced so similarly, although historically, that hasn't stopped BMW pitching cars that are broadly similar under the skin at vastly different prices. M5 and M8 anyone? Nevertheless, around ninety grand might seem quite a whack for an uber-fast X4 and some will ask whether this M Competition version is really worth over £25,000 more than the talented X4 M40i model.

Of course, you get a lot for the asking figure, particularly inside where signature M details include red accents for the M buttons on the M leather steering wheel and the start/stop button on the centre console. The selector lever with-Drivelogic switch is leather surfaced with an embedded M logo and stitching in M colours. An anthracite-coloured BMW Individual headliner and interior trim strips in Carbon Fibre High-gloss are standard. Fine-grain Merino black leather trim is standard as are M sport seats, which are electrically adjustable and heated. These seats have pronounced side bolsters, integrated head restraints and an illuminated model badge.

In addition to Carbon Black metallic and Brooklyn Grey metallic, there are two new paint finishes reserved for the X4 M Competition - Marina Bay Blue metallic and Sao Paulo Yellow. In addition, a wide range of BMW Individual paint finishes are available, such as the matt finish Frozen Marina Bay Blue metallic.

Cost of Ownership

BMW has made great strides in improving its M division's straight six engine but you still won't be expecting too much in terms of efficiency here. You shouldn't be. The combined cycle WLTP-rated efficiency figures range between 26.2 and 26.4mpg, but if you regularly achieve that, then you really shouldn't have bought this car in the first place: you know where we are. The CO2 reading varies between 244-247g/km, which means that the BiK Benefit in Kind taxation rate is a lofty 37%.

Even to get anywhere near the figures we just quoted, you'll need to drive with considerable restraint, with the engine in its 'Efficient' M Menu setting and the centre console 'M Mode' button set in its most sensible 'Road' format. You can monitor just how much high octane fuel you're using via a graphical read-out provided in the centre screen's 'Journey Data' section, part of a 'Driving Information' section that also has an 'Energy flow' graphic.

But of course as an X4 M Competition owner, that's the last thing you'll want to do. Drive this car in anger as it was meant to be driven and the figures we've given you will of course disappear in a high octane haze. And if you use your right boot in anger a good percentage of the time, you'll certainly chew through consumables like tyres and brake pads. Insurance is as expensive as you'd expect from a car with that sort of potency under the bonnet (group 45E), but residual values should hold up well.


No one actually needs a car like this. You might even question whether BMW does, given that the brand already has M40i and M40d versions of this X4 that are plenty quick enough for customers wanting rapid performance on the public highway. They'd feel distinctly underwhelming on a track though; an X4 M Competition wouldn't. How real world-relevant that is remains debatable but for a customer who'd once have bought an M4 but now needs extra practicality, an X4 M Competition claims to be the perfect solution.

But then similar claims are made by cars like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, the Jaguar F-PACE SVR and the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63S. An X4 M Competition is no faster than any of these rivals. But it does feel more of a motorsport-tuned tool. And if you're a likely customer, that small but subtle difference could be telling.

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