BMW X4 Test Drive Review
13 October 2014
As premium German brands increasingly try to create and fill new niches, BMW has become the first to combine compact sports activity vehicle with coupe to create the BMW X4.
Basically a more sporty four-door coupe version of the X3 small off-roader, the X4 apes the approach taken with the X6 version of the X5 large 4x4 model, as BMW finds another new way to broaden its offering.
The X4 arrives in the UK with a choice of three diesel engines, with the 190hp 20d and 313hp 35d sitting either side of the 258hp 30d model driven here. The 190hp model is the only one available in manual and auto transmissions and in all three trim levels, with the other two engines only offered as autos, the 258hp model in X-line and M-sport spec, and the most powerful derivative coming only in M-sport.
As with the X6, everyone has an opinion on the X4's looks, although those views are more balanced in terms of those that are favourable versus those that aren't, unlike the less-loved larger SUV. It's not subtle, especially in M-sport spec with its extra visual styling cues, and certainly not a car for shy and retiring types.
Compared with the X3, the X4 costs an additional £3600, but gets more standard kit in the shape of larger alloys, xenon headlights, sports leather steering wheel, the variable sport steering system, and the Performance Control traction system. CO2 for the two models are the same - in the case of the 30d model a 156g/km that rivals can't match - although the X4's swooping coupe-like shape robs 50 litres of boot space.
The interior will be familiar to any BMW driver: everything is well-placed, easy to operate and with plenty of good-quality materials on offer. It certainly acts the part of a premium SUV. Rear space and headroom, in particular, are also not impacted as badly as the roofline might intimate.
In line with its more sporting pretensions, the X4's front seats are 20mm lower than the X3, and the X4 handles better than any SUV, sporting or otherwise, this side of a Porsche Macan.
And that Macan is a bit of a problem, along with BMW's own X3. If you're happy to take practicality over the X4's looks, then the X3 is both cheaper and offers a slightly better RV at 43.9% rather than 42.3%, while a slightly lower SMR cost, probably down to the X4's larger tyres, also contributes to a 3.3p per mile gap between the two. But the Macan makes things worse.
The most expensive diesel is nearly £4000 cheaper than this X4 M-sport, and its 50.7% residual means it's even cheaper than the X3 M-sport at 85.4p per mile.
The new X4 straddles the line well between being overt and being offensive to those people not fond of German premium brands and brash SUVs, and no other brand yet has a true competitor. However, it is expensive when compared with the nearest thing to rivals that currently exist, and those rivals are also very appealing cars.