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BMW’s segment-bending X4 gets a M40i variant powered by a new 355hp straight-six

Following a leak, BMW has introduced the X4 M40i ahead of its public debut at this year’s Los Angeles Motor Show.

Enthusiasts fluent in BMW nomenclature can tell right off the bat that the M40i is a hot-rodded version of the segment-defying X4 that was developed to hit the track with input from the Munich-based car maker’s M division. The most important upgrades are consequently found by peeking in the engine bay, where the X4 gains a newly developed turbocharged, 3.0-liter straight-six engine that makes 355 horsepower from 5,800-6,000 rpm and 343 pound-feet of torque over a broad range that stretches from 1,350-5,250 rpm.

Bolted to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the six sends the M40i from zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds — roughly half a second faster than the 35i, the next model down in the X4 hierarchy — and on to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. A sport-tuned version of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system comes standard, though the low-profile tires and a lowered suspension system greatly reduce its off-road prowess.

Outside, the M40i stands out from its tamer siblings thanks to a new front bumper accented by thin strips of chrome trim, a minutely redesigned rear bumper with a pair of round exhaust tips, model-specific 19-inch alloy wheels, and a sprinkling of M badges. All told, it takes a well-trained eye to tell the M40i apart from the aforementioned 35i.

The cockpit gets a M-specific three-spoke multifunction steering wheel upholstered in black leather, a M shift lever, new sill plates, sport seats for the front passengers and an upgraded instrument cluster.

Related: BMW denies cheating on diesel emissions

The BMW X4 M40i will go on sale nationwide early next year, and it is expected to land in showrooms in time for the 2017 model year. Pricing information will be available at a later date.

Updated 10-01-2015 by Ronan Glon: Added official pictures and specs.