2019 BMW X4 First Drive: Better Style, More Substance

The laws of physics can't break, but every year engineers become more adroit at crafting vehicles that drive unlike what their appearances let on. The 2019 BMW X4 is the latest example of how looks can be deceiving. It looks like a coupe-inspired SUV, or “Sports Activity Coupe” in BMW-speak, but as soon as you chuck the X4 through a curlicue section of road, you may as well be driving a hot hatch.

Crossovers, just like all-season tires, are typically capable of doing a little bit of everything, but not one specific thing well. Light off-roading? Sure. Some rushed driving around town? No problem. Rubicon Trail or Moab? Let's go with “no”. Track-day tussle with Corvettes and spec Miatas? Are you insane?

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But there are a growing number of SUVs that are rather good when the going gets twisty: The Porsche Macan, Alfa Romeo Stelvio — even the X4's conventional-looking platform mate, the BMW X3 M40i — offer sports-car handling dynamics in a high-riding, two-box shape. So if the X3 is good on the race track, does that mean its swoopy-roofed sibling is good, too?

The answer is a resounding yes … as long as you opt for the $60,450 X4 M40i in all of its 355-horsepower, turbocharged, straight-six glory.

I'll get into the $50,450 X4 xDrive30i (with its 248-hp turbo four-cylinder) a bit later, but what I will mention immediately is that it is rather forgettable compared with the more premium X4, which occupied my whole day with ...