Behind the Wheel

2020 BMW X4 M Competition Review: Feisty family-friendly fun

The BMW X4 Competition is track- and family-ready.

Photo courtesy of BMW Of North America

This is the X4 that BMW has meant to build the whole time. The 2020 BMW X4 M Competition is breathy, robust family hauler that convinces you that it's not your typical SUV, but rather a showstopper of a performance high-riding hatchback.

Just as you'd think from its name, the BMW X4 is bigger than the BMW X3 but rather than just being bigger, it's an SUV from a different vein. BMW's odd-numbered SUVs are off-road worthy with trail prowess. The even-numbered models are more performance-focused with their own set of looks.

2020 BMW X4 M Competition The SUV's stance looks beefy thanks to aesthetic enhancements.Photo courtesy of BMW Of North America

The X4 M Competition is set apart from the traditional X4 in a number of ways. On the exterior it has an M quad exhaust, M rear diffuser, M roof spoiler, M mirrors, M side air vents, and aggressive bumper air intakes. The looks is stronger and beefier than the traditional X4 but not so aggressive that it would turn off soccer moms.

Under the SUV's hood is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter BMW M inline six-cylinder engine that is paired with an eight-speed M Sport automatic transmission. It gets 473 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque that gets it from zero to 60 mph in four seconds flat and up the highway on-ramp in quite a jiffy.

2020 BMW X4 M Competition The exterior of the X4 M Competition is more aggressive than the traditional X4.Photo courtesy of BMW Of North America

The X4 M Competition isn't particularly fuel efficient, but with its growl and prowl activity, it's not meant to be.

The SUV wins points for its untraditional shifter, which is a lovely change that empowers the driver.

Its standard auto start-stop technology is relatively smooth operating but easy to turn off. Its M Sport exhaust system delivers a lovely growl that will awaken your neighbors as you set off for an early flight. All-wheel drive is standard.

2020 BMW X4 M Competition The SUV is performance-focused but still family-friendly.Photo courtesy of BMW Of North America

The inside of the BMW X4 M Competition is pretty much the same old tune as the X4 except for the standard 14-way power front M sport seats which are more comfortable than their traditionally plush non-M seats in other X4 models. That's not usually the way it works, but in this case it's welcome.

2020 BMW X4 M Competition There's not a few aesthetic changes in the X4 M Competition that differentiate it from the traditional X4.Photo courtesy of BMW Of North America

The model doesn't have most of the standard safety and driver assistance bells and whistles that other SUVs have, even with their much lower price tags. The argument can be had that it's likely because this model is made to be track-ready. But, honestly, how many buyers are spending significant time on the track in this 4,600-pound high-rider?

2020 BMW X4 M Competition The model adds colored accents to the interior.Photo courtesy of BMW Of North America

The SUV's cargo space is fine for daily driver use and its M Sport appointments and color accents are a fun touch in the cabin. The LED-lighted M badging between the seat and headrest on the driver and front passenger seat are a fun addition to the model though there are purely for vanity.

It also isn't cheap. With a starting MSRP over $80,000, the X4 M Competition is for a particular customer who craves track-ready fun but also the type of practicality that lends itself to school drop offs and road tripping. This model checks all those boxes.

The 2 Series Gran Coupe is not a coupe, but rather a four-door sedan with a graded roof.

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW continues to call four-door vehicles coupes and give them larger and larger grilles. That holds true for its new 2 Series Gran Coupe, a performance-focused model that anchors the German automaker's lineup.

The model will come in two variants: 228i xDrive Gran Coupe and M235i xDrive Gran Coupe. Both models come standard with all-wheel drive.

Its hood and trunk are made of aluminum and body components are made of high-strength steel. The BMW M235i xDrive get additional structural equipment including strut tower tie bar and bracing on the front axle subframe and in the tunnel area as well as an anti-roll bar mounting with high preload. It also has a sport suspension and the M Sport steering.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe The grille on the BMW is large and not particularly attractive from many angles.Photo courtesy of BMW

The car's exterior is marked not only by its large grille but also its frameless windows and a wide stance. It also has standard full-LED headlights with hexagonal tube daytime running lights. At the back are an upswept trunk and dual 90mm chrome exhaust tips.

BMW has given the 228i xDrive Gran Coupe the company's signature sport black exterior accent treatment. The M235i xDrive Gran Coupe features a Cerium Grey finish for the Mesh Kidney grille surround and raised nuggets, front air inlet surrounds, side sill inserts, mirror caps and free form tailpipe finishers.

The 228i xDrive Gran Coupe will be powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It has a zero to 60 mph time of 6.0 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph when running on all-season tires. It can get to 151 mph on performance tires.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Out back, the car mostly has business as BMW usual.Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW has given the 228i xDrive Gran Coupe standard 17-inch multi-spoke wheels with 225/45R17 all-season runflat tires. The M235i xDrive comes standard with 18-inch M double-spoke wheels with 225/40R18 all-season runflat tires. Both models are available in a variety of 17-, 18-, or 19-inch wheel/tire combinations.

The more powerful M235i xDrive Gran Coupe gets 301 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque from its tuned 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It can nget to 60 mph from a standstill in 4.7 seconds (4.6 with optional boost functionality). The car has a top speed of 155 mph when equipped with performance tires.

M Sport brakes are available as an option on the 228i xDrive Gran Coupe and are standard on the M235i xDrive model.

BMW has given both models Comfort, Eco, and Sport modes. The more powerful model has launch control and available adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Opting for the sportier model gets the buyer richer accents on the exterior of the vehicle.Photo courtesy of BMW

The car shares a near-actuator wheel slip limitation system with the BMW i3. The system's position under the car allows for a relay between the wheels and slip controller that is three times quicker inn detecting slip and getting the car's mechanics to intervene.

BMW has outfitted the model in premium features including a standard backlit interior trim and grain effects on the steering wheel, instrument panel, and doors and contrast seams on the dashboard. Technical Orbis graining is used on the driver's side in the cockpit area while leather-like Verona graining features on the passenger side, the two separated by contrast diagonal stitching, depending on the equipment line specified.

The car comes standard with an 8.6-inch infotainment screen. An 8.6-inch digital instrument display is standard and a 10.25 digital instrument cluster is available. The buyers select the large digital cluster, the infotainment screen is upgraded to a 10.25-incher. A full-color 9.2-inch BMW head-up display is also available.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Ambient light options allow for a level of interior customization.Photo courtesy of BMW

Among the special personalized details available as part of the available Live Cockpit Professional system is the Welcome Scenario, which greets the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe driver when they enter their vehicle. The driver's user settings, including seat, air conditioning and radio settings are saved to a profile via vehicle key and pin code.

Drivers can interact with their system with via gesture control or the "Hey BMW" function, which allows drivers to use various vehicle functionality without having to take their hands off the wheel.

The standard BMW Stereo sound system includes ten speakers and a 205-watt amplifier. The optional Harman Kardon surround sound system enhances the audio experience with 16-speakers and 464 watts of audio power.

The German automaker has given the 2 Series nearly the same legroom as what is found in the 3 Series. It also has a 15.1 cubic foot trunk and a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe BMW says that the 2 Series has nearly as much legroom in the second row as the 3 Series.Photo courtesy of BMW

The new BMW 2 Series Gran Coupes come standard with power Sport seats covered in standard Oyster/Black Sensatec or Black Sensatec on the 228i xDrive Gran Coupe. Dakota leather is standard on the M235i xDrive Gran Coupe in either Magma Red, Mocha, Black with Blue highlights or Oyster.

The car's standard Active Driving Assistant technology includes forward collision warning with City Collisionn Mitigation, blind spot detection, daytime pedestrian protection, and lane departure warning. Additional standard and available features include parking distance alert and back-up assist, which is able to assisting with parallel parking.

Production of the 2 Series Gran Coupe started in November and it will begin arriving at dealerships in March. Pricing has yet to be announced.

Google recently enhanced its Android Auto interface.

Photo courtesy of Google

Better late than never. BMW has announced that they will add wireless Android Auto to their vehicles starting in July 2020. The German automaker already offers Apple CarPlay, and in 2017 because the first company to make wireless CarPlay available.

In 2018, BMW became the first automaker to charge specifically for Apple CarPlay, requiring customers to cough up $80 per year for the tech. Last week BMW let it slip to Roadshow that they would no longer charge the fee for 2019 and 2020 model year cars.

Android Auto 2019 Android Auto is able to perform many of the functions of a traditional smartphone while hooked up to your car, including give directions.Photo courtesy of Google

Android Auto will be available in the new vehicles sans special equipment fee.

Like with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto links a smartphone's functionality to a vehicle's infotainment system. When it becomes available, Android Auto will be able to fully integrate into BMW's digital cockpit meaning that the information appears in the car's head up display and instrument cluster instead of exclusively in the infotainment screen at the center of the dashboard.

"We are excited to work with BMW to bring wireless Android Auto to their customers worldwide next year," said Patrick Brady, Vice President of Engineering, Google. "The seamless connection from Android smartphones to BMW vehicles allows customers to hit the road faster while maintaining access to all of their favorite apps and services in a safer experience."

If you're wondering whether or not your phone is compatible with Android Auto, click here to see a handy guide from Google.

The public's first peek at Andorra Auto will be at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

Android Auto will be available for all BMW customers in 20 countries with BMW Operating System 7.0 in mid 2020.