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Fastback styling adds flash to small, performance-oriented all-wheel-drive luxury crossover.

COURTESY PHOTO: BMW - The 2022 BMW X4 M40i is a sporty fastback crossover with a powerful turbocharged inline six cylinder engine and standard all-wheel-drive.I'm always surprised how far car manufacturers will go to deny their hatchbacks are, well, hatchbacks. Apparently surveys show that many consumers think hatchbacks are boring, even though they are buying a lot of them. The word is just not in the name, however.

Take the 2022 BMW X4, for example. It is a luxury compact crossover four-door hatchback sport utility vehicle. But BMW insists it is a "sport activity coupe" because the fastback styling helps it look like a two-door at first glance.

To make matters even more confusing, the X4 is actually a fastback version of the boxier X3 crossover SUV. Except BMW insists SUV means "sport activity vehicle" for that one.

Whatever it's called, the 2022 X4 is among the best vehicle of its kind on the planet. The fastback styling reduces rear headroom and cargo space a little compared to the X3, but it creates a sportier look that is more in keeping with the X4's level of performance.

COURTESY PHOTO: BMW - The fastback styling of the 2022 BMW X4 M40i helps conceal that practical large rear hatch.

Make that levels of performance. The base X4 is the 30i version that comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates a healthy 248 horsepower and 258 foot pounds of torque. The next-level M40i version comes with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline 6-cylinder hybrid engine that produces 335 horsepower and 365 foot pounds of torque. And the M Competition version comes with an even more powerful inline 6 rated at 473 horsepower and 457 foot pounds of torque.

All versions come with an eight speed automatic transmission and standard xDrive, BMW's excellent all-wheel-drive system. And, of course, the levels of luxury and technology that buyers expect from the German manufacturer these days. The M40i and M Competition version include suspension, brake and other upgrades to handle the additional power.

COURTESY PHOTO: BMW - The interior of the 2022 BMW X4 M40i is tastefully appointed and loaded with luxury and technology features.

My tester was a 2022 BMW X4 M40i that included a Premium Package and M Sport group brake and suspension upgrades, variable sport steering, twin 12.3-inch displays, and a power sunroof. It also came with "gesture-control," a new options which allows the driver to control the infotainment system using five simple hand gestures. I didn't quite figure that out in a week of test driving.

All of the additions pushed the price from $52,795 for the base X4 30i to $67,540, which is admittedly a lot for a compact anything. But the performance approached that of a genuine sport sedan if not an actual sports car. Acceleration was effortlessly smooth, especially with the xDrive system increasing traction. The steering was precise and the suspension was firm without being harsh, which is important considering the poorly maintained streets in my part of town. In contrast, the suspension with the M Competition version is reportedly so firm that buyers need to consider whether they intend it as a daily driver.

COURTESY PHOTO: BMW - Rear seat headroom is a litle compromised by the fastaback styling of the 2022 BMW X4 M40i.

All of the interior materials were of the highest quality, of course, with BMW's attention to detail showing on every surface. The chrome trim and carbon fiber accents were tastefully restrained. The large console-mounted dial that controls the infotainment system was easy to figure out and use. The digital gauge screen offered a real-time map while the dash-mounted screen handled the other functions.

Luxury compact crossover SUVs are admittedly a niche market, especially those with serious performance. BMW is broadening its appeal by offering conventional squared off and hatchback — excuse me, sports activity coupe — versions, along with trim levels that range from entertaining to ridiculously fast. Whatever BMW is calling them, the manufacturer is allowing buyers to customize their choices to their lifestyles, which is always a good strategy.

COURTESY PHOTO: BMW - The hatchback design of the 2022 BMW X4 M40i increases its practicality.

2022 BMW X4 M40i

Base price: $52,795 (base X4 30i)

Price as tested: $67,540

Type: Compact crossover SUV

Engine as tested: 3.0-liter turbocharged inline 6-cylinder (335 hp, 365 lbs-ft)

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

EPA estimated mileage as tested: 21/26

Overall length: 188 inches

Curb weight: 4403 pounds

Final assembly: Spartanburg, South Carolina

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