PINEHURST, NC and YONKERS, NY — November 15, 2019 —I was driving a very interesting car all of last week. Yeah, eat your heart out. What is it? It is a BMW X4 M Competition, capable of 0-60mph in 4 seconds (so they tell me – I have never figured out how to start from zero, floor it, and see the road and speedometer at the same time – I choose the road), with a 503 HP, six-cylinder, twin turbo. You know you have something when you look at the speedometer – and it tops out at 200 mph. Varoom!
Fire this puppy up and you get that guttural sound of an engine that is ready to rock – but slip it into reverse and the sounds turns to a steady, rhythmic, “I’m a controlled powerhouse” sound. Loved it.
It is an interesting ‘car’ to consider. This is a very high-powered sports car, at least ours was. But it doesn’t really look like a sports car. It’s a sedan in one sense, as it has four doors. Its elongated body structure suggests the ability to carry stuff, so it has something of a ‘hatchback’, ‘crossover’ design. Built in Greer, South Carolina, these BMW’s are referred to as Multipurpose Passenger Vehicles (MPV) on the official VIN documents. BMW refers to it as a Compact Crossover. It is also referred to as an All-Wheel Drive Sport Utility vehicle, SUV.
The “M” in the name is significant as it refers to the word “Motorsport” which is a product of their high-performance division, thus explaining the speed and power of a ‘hatchback, compact, crossover’. The X refers to All Wheel Drive, where the rear wheels are in control but power is sent to the front wheels as needed.
For me, anyway, there were two conflicting ideas in play simultaneously – 1. This is a good looking ‘car’, with lots of power, and 2. What is the practical nature and use of the design of this vehicle?
If, indeed, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, just looking at the pictures provided should explain number 1, along with 500 hp, Number 2 is a bit trickier. The back seat does not afford a passenger much leg rook or head room. I’m 5’10”, down from my original 5’11” now that I’m 71, and my head nearly scraped the ceiling sitting in the back seat. It was not particularly easy to enter or exit the back seat either as head space is cramped on entry and exit. The seats were comfortable, but you are looking at the head rest and back of the seat in front of you and any vision forward or backward is limited at best. That brings me to another point, from a driver standpoint, there is a fairly narrow view out the rear-view mirror and you travel down the road. Stop and put the car in reverse and back up camera gives you a wide and detailed view that allows you to ‘see’ considerable space around and behind you, making backing into or out of parking spaces or into the street very easy and precise. I thought the backup camera system was excellent. The storage space in the back was certainly adequate for groceries or weekend getaway suitcases with the back seats in place. Probably not enough room for four people’s luggage but that would depend on how they packed. However, put the rear seats down and two people could pack for the beach or mountains for a month, while driving their powerful, stylish ‘car’ all around. Remember the term ‘yuppie’, “young urban professional with upward mobility”, this is that car. A young, or perhaps older, stockbroker who wants to say “I have made it, look at me” would love this vehicle. Having a midlife crisis? This could show the whole neighborhood what you are going through – seriously. With a price tag that starts around $61K and that can be coaxed into the low $80K range – that was ours – this is definitely NOT a car for everyone.
In keeping with the sports car theme, the front seats were definitely ‘sporty’, with plenty of lateral support being standard, leather trim, controls for all the seat movements, plus the ‘seat extender’ to get the front of the seat comfortably under your legs. I really like that feature. You also get leather upholstery in a variety of blacks and grays, with some red trim throughout to break up the monotony. There are even red programmable buttons on the steering wheel that let drivers store their favorite settings for throttle response, steering response, shift speed, exhaust sound and damper firmness. And if there weren’t already enough M badges sprinkled throughout the interior, there’s red and blue stitching on the seat belts to reinforce the fact that you are driving a car sweetened by BMW’s M division. The BMW lettering in the back of the seat even lights up when you open the door as does lighting on the ground to help you see at night. Nice touches.
The gear shift was interesting. First you had paddle shifters on the steering wheel really just about in line with your thumbs as you hold the wheel at ‘10 and 2’. However, you could also shift with the shifter itself. A “P” on the back of the shifter puts the car in Park. You must have your foot on the brake to move the shifter into Reverse or Drive. From Reverse, you go to Neutral and move the shifter right until the + sign in illuminated and you are in D/S mode, automatic drive with 8 forward speeds. Very smooth transmission, I might add. Move the shifter up and you put the car in shift mode. You can shift with the paddles or the gear shift, and the gear shift does not require you to let off the gas as you shift. Some of you who have been around for a while will remember the old VW’s that came out with a shifter that didn’t require a clutch. You simply pressed on the gear shift knob, which took the car out of gear, and ‘shifted’ it into 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th. This is similar but you only move the shift up to go up through the 8 speeds, or down to lower the gear ratios. Pretty slick I thought.
A vehicle with this much power and pizazz doesn’t get much in the way of gas mileage. 14 mpg is the average, and I am pretty sure that my manning the gears didn’t help. When I did figure out how to get it in automatic, I seemed to stop sucking gas through the engine like a sieve, but I certainly had fun up until that moment. And, yes, I am man enough to admit it, Laurie figured out how to get the car into simple ‘automatic’ mode. Maybe all this would be intuitive for a younger generation, but not for me. Oh, and if you are paying $60 to $80K for a car, you probably aren’t nearly as cognizant of gas mileage as you are of speed, handling, and looks. The X4 M had all the bells and whistles in comfort too – heated and air conditioned front seats, all adjustable seats and steering, heated steering, phone chargers, wonderful speakers, driver seat memory, and on.
Safety – you betcha! Airbags everywhere is a given. Traction Control with ABS is standard. In fact there are many, many standard features – Occupancy Sensor (no leaving kids and pets behind), In-Vehicle Assistance Service (trouble on the road), Automatic Headlights, Exterior Light Control, Delay of headlamps, Headlight washer (cool), Daytime running lights, Directionally Adaptive Headlights (lighting to the left or right when you turn – love this), Daytime Running Lights, Illuminated Entry, Parking Assist, Park Distance Control, Remote Keyless Entry, Content theft-deterrent alarm system, Lane Departure Warning, and Blind Sport Sensor.
The BMW X4 M Competition is an expensive, beautiful, fun, fast, sports car/crossover/SUV, head turner that certainly will be on somebody’s Christmas list this year. Not sure who, but You Know Who You Are. Get yourself one.
The BMW dealerships in the vicinity to Pinehurst, NC area are:
Valley Auto World, Inc.
BMW of Southpoint
BMW of Florence
The BMW dealerships in the New York Metropolitan vicinity to the Yonkers, NY area are:
BMW of Mamaroneck
236 West Boston Post Road
Mamaroneck, NY 10543
BMW OF MANHATTAN
555 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019
BMW MT. KISCO
250 Kisco Avenue
Mt. Kisco, NY 10549
DCH Midland BMW
110 Midland Avenue
Port Chester, NY 10573
Ray Catena Westchester BMW
543 Tarrytown Road
White Plains, NY 10607