First Drive: BMW X4
Distinctive and more spacious, the new X4 is a serious coupe-SUV, says Martyn Collins.
SECTOR Large SUV PRICE £42,900-£55,725 FUEL 31.0-50.4mpg CO2 146-206g/km
With attractive rivals such as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Mercedes GLC and Porsche Macan, it’s not really a surprise that, according to BMW, sales of coupe-inspired SUVs have grown five-fold since the first X4 launched back in 2014.
Now, a few months after its sister car, the new X3, BMW is renewing its position against those key rivals with an all-new X4. Looks-wise, the jury is out as to whether this second-generation car is any better-looking than the first. Think current X3 with a coupe-like rear end and you won’t be far wrong. Although M Sport models have real presence with the more aggressive side skirts and larger air intakes on the front apron.
Move inside, and apart from the lower driving position, you could be driving an X3. The interior layout and dashboard are all identical. Still, the driving position is comfortable and multi-adjustable. Legroom in the back is reasonable, although the heads of the tallest rear passengers will be brushing the tapered roofline. Being 7cm longer than the old X4, the boot is a good size, at 525 litres, but practicality is compromised by the high loading lip and it feels surprisingly shallow too.
The X4 will be offered in Sport, M Sport and M Sport X trims and, with prices starting at over £40,000, spec levels are high. Leather trim, 18-inch alloy wheels, full LED rear lights and adaptive LED headlights, sport suspension and a sport steering wheel are fitted as standard to all models. Expect demand to be weighted towards the sportier versions, particularly the mid-spec M Sport.
Engines comprise the familiar 190bhp 20d, 265bhp 30d and 326bhp M40d diesel engines, or the range-topping 354bhp M40i petrol – the 40mpg 20i petrol offered in some markets won’t come to the UK. BMW believes the 20d, tested here, will be the best-selling engine for fleets, as it’s the most frugal. It’s best described as a bit grumbly at idle and when extended, but with the standard eight-speed automatic gearbox and 295lb.ft of torque, the X4 gets off the line swiftly and feels willing on the move. The 146 g/km CO2 figures and 50.4mpg economy in this spec are still competitive, too.
On the road, the ride on the standard M-Sport suspension and optional 20-inch alloys is best described as hard and unsettled. Things get better with the steering, which is precise and the turn is quick, all adding to the feeling of sportiness. This is all the more impressive considering this is a tall SUV. Although, at low speeds the gearbox does seem to struggle working out what gear to be in, and the M Sport steering wheel has too chunky a rim in our opinion.
So the X4 looks likely to continue to divide opinions, but fans of its predecessor will find this a useful step forward, getting the latest technology and engines. Despite the activity at the coupe end of this segment, we reckon the more practical, and just as engaging to drive, X3 sister car remains the better option.
What We Think:
Bigger, more practical and – BMW says – better looking that the last one. But it has the same issue as the old X4 – an X3 offers few drawbacks for its cheaper price.