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  • TheMotorist Team

BMW X4 20d & M40i Driven in South Africa

We Drive the new BMW X4.

With a low slung back, wide stance and unique design, Sports Activity Coupes can be one of those love or hate scenarios for many-including the BMW X4.  Think Marmite, Cardi B or Apple for example. BMW started this “new” segment with the original X4, selling over 200,000 units since 2014 and encouraging other manufacturers to follow suit.

BMW X4 Lights

What’s New?

The new BMW X4 has definitely become more eloquent, featuring a bold, aggressive front end and BMW’s new hexagonal running lights. The rear is also pretty impressive too, with new slimmer rear lights, and a sharp edged upper rear spoiler which sits just above the rear window.  From some angles, Sports Activity Coupes can look a little odd and while the X4 isn’t completely immune from this, BMW have done a pretty good job.

The BMW X4 is longer, wider and lower than its counterpart; the BMX X3. If you’re one for numbers, the wheelbase is 54mm longer, the body is 3mm lower and the rear track features an increase of 30mm. In simple terms, this makes it sportier.

BMW X4 20d

For our first test drive of the morning, we found ourselves in the scrumptious Flamenco Red Metallic X4 20d. The staple diesel model produces 140kW and 400N.m and comes in at R843,000. It’s buttery smooth, quiet and comfortable,  and while I do feel the 2.0 diesel could of had a tad more power, on the open road it was pleasant and easy to drive. One can expect pretty good fuel economy figures and great range with this variant.


I’ve always found BMW’s to have very solid interiors, they use good materials and feel sturdy, strong and luxurious. This is no different in the cockpit of the X4, featuring a driver-focused cockpit and new sport seats further play on the X4’s sportiness, while my favourite feature happened to be the thick but soft leather steering wheel.

Technology doesn’t go amiss either, you will find BMW’s latest iDrive system which is always a treat to use, complemented by the digital dashboard. BMW have taken a different approach to others here, instead of being able to display everything and everything, BMW’s system displays classic information such as speed, revs and fuel but in a crisp and clean manner. Small features such as highlighting the nearest RPM number while driving shows nice attention to detail. When bumped up into sport mode, dials turn red and emphasize speed, while dropping into Eco displays a cool blue interface aiding you in stretching out the km’s. I like BMW’s approach, its classy and we don’t always need to be bombarded with information.

Following on with the sporty persona, M Sport suspension, the Performance Control function, and variable sport steering all come as standard. If you so wish M Sport brakes and Adaptive Suspension are option extras, although I personally feel this would be a waste on the entry-level diesel variant. In terms of model lines, Standard, M Sport and M Sport X are available, with varying wheel and trim options to suit individual taste.

BMW X4 M40i

With the X3 M40i evading me, I was keen to find out what the M40i range in an SUV was all about. Set eyes on the flagship M-Performance model and you will probably agree that it certainly looks the part. It also sounds the part, which becomes evidently clear on startup as the 3.0 6-cylinder roars into life. Whenever I drive vehicles like this, they go straight into their most “performancy“ mode, in the case of the BMW X4 that would be Sport Plus.

BMW X4 South Africa

Straight out of the gate, I could tell this was going to be an exciting vehicle. Let’s get one thing straight, the X4 M40i is fast for a car, nevermind an SUV.  What stood out to me was the experience as a whole. In Sport Plus, more engine sound is pumped into the cabin, it’s loud, and as the engine fires all the way to a 7000 rpm redline you just can’t help but smile. Step off the throttle and enjoy the pops and bangs that have become ever more present on vehicles nowadays. Gear changes are quick and punchy, throttle response is sharp and body roll is minimal due to the X4’s low centre of gravity, M Sport suspension and M Sport diff – it’s all pretty wonderful and I began to do the mechanics in my head of what an X4 M is really going to be like.

BMW X4 South Africa

The X4 M40i can also behave, yes, being an M-Performance model it’s never going to be as plush and comfy as the less performance orientated models, but hit comfort mode and the M40i quietens down, chills out and becomes much more like the X4 20d. A faint 6-cylinder purr can be heard in the background, and that isn’t a bad thing, it’s always nice to be reminded of what you have on tap and what you paid for.


Other Engine Variants

BMW have sadly scrapped the X30i and X30d due to lack of demand, which means you have the option of the 20i, 20d or M40i.  For some, the removal of the X30d maybe sad, as a nicely powered diesel is always a great option. Need not to worry though, as January 2019 will bring the M40d to South Africa. Producing 240 kW and a lovely 680 N.m of torque, the M40d will hit 100km/h in under 5 seconds – this engine will surely be a treat!

X3 or X4?

This is a big question that’s relatively easy to answer and It all depends on your requirements. Both models offer the same tech, very similar interiors and the same engines. The X3 offers slightly more space in the rear, including headspace and a bigger boot – and this may be of big value to you. Whereas the BMW X4 offers a sportier package and dynamics, while still not being shy of space – plenty for a family. You may just prefer the look of X3 and are not quite sold on Sport Activity Coupe’s just yet, and that’s also cool. At the end of the day, go for the one that suits you best, as you won’t be missing out no matter your choice.


BMW X4 Pricing in South Africa

BMW X4 xDrive 20i & 20d

Standard – R843,000

M Sport & M Sport X – R887,900

BMW X4 M40i – R1,132,800

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