IF IT’S SOMETHING DIFFERENT YOU’RE AFTER, YOU’LL FIND IT IN THE BMW X4 xDrive35d.
Different, obviously because of that fastback style - a sports car top-half grafted onto SUV underpinnings - but unlike so many humdrum SUVs, the 35d has an ace up its sleeve.
Thanks to a more powerful twin-turbo six-cylinder diesel borrowed from the X5 (where it wears the xDrive40d badge) the X4 delivers unstoppable, torque-filled performance that hauls like a runaway train.
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $89,900 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 230kW/630Nm 3.0 turbo diesel 6cyl | 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 6.0 l/100km | tested: 7.3 l/100km
At 5.2 seconds from 0-100 km/h, the X4 xDrive35d is seriously quick - faster than its petrol stablemate, the xDrive35i and just 0.3 seconds behind the X4 M40i that won’t be coming to Australia.
That makes the xDrive35d the range-topping X4 for Australia, and thanks to its standard M Sport package ,it has the looks to match its performance.
At $89,900 it’s one of the pricier premium SUV offerings, but still holds up against other high performance and, arguably, slightly more practical competitors in its class.
- Standard equipment: Dual-zone climate control, Surround View parking camera, front and rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, power adjustable front seats, bi-xenon headlamps, power tailgate, keyless entry and start
- Infotainment: Sat-nav, internet connectivity, Harman Kardon premium audio with DAB+/AM/FM/CD/USB, Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming, ConnectedDrive Freedom
- Options fitted: Glass sunroof ($2920), heated front seats ($760), 19-inch alloys (no cost option), interior wood trim (no cost option)
- Cargo volume: 500 litres minimum, 1400 litres maximum
While the X4 itself is somewhat fresh, having been introduced globally in 2014, the basic interior design is shared with the X3 range, which dates back to 2010. That doesn't make it a bad interior, but it’s starting to show a few crow’s feet
Just little things, like the small infotainment screen, and the slabby dashboard design, are not as fresh as some of BMW’s more modern offerings. That said, there’s a high quality look and feel to everything in the cabin.
To allow for the X4’s sleeker roof, the seats are mounted slightly lower, so the impact on headroom is less noticeable - it also sets the driver up with a more racey feel behind the wheel, something not expected from an SUV.
Power adjustable front seats, with two-position driver’s memory come standard, as does dual-zone climate control, meaning front seat comfort is well catered for.
As you’d expect given the X4’s shape, rear headroom isn’t as generous as the X3 range, but only the very tall will run out of room. Getting in and out past the diving cant rail might be the biggest obstacle, but you'll be comfortable enough once loaded in.
Up to the cargo blind there’s 500 litres of boot space - a figure no different to the X3. Of course, the raked hatchback reduces some of the versatility of that space, although with the 40:20:40 folding rear seats down there’s 1400 litres available.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 230kW/630Nm 3.0 litre turbo diesel inline six
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, all wheel drive
- Suspension: Double-wishbone front, multi-link rear, adaptive dampers
- Brakes: Ventilated disc, sliding calipers
- Steering: Electrically assisted, variable-ratio rack with variable steering weight
- Towing capacity: 2000kg braked, 750kg unbraked
From 3.0 litres capacity the xDrive35d’s straight-six engine churns out 230kW at 4400rpm, backed up by a monstrous 630Nm of torque between 1500 and 2500rpm.
Similarly the xDrive30d, the predecessor to this car, managed 190kW and 560Nm. The xDrive35d is a serious piece of performance-diesel technology then.
In less-demanding driving situations, however, the 35d is just as civilised as any of the other less-powerful members of the X4 family.
It settles into a quiet beat around town, there’s just a hint of diesel chatter, but nothing obtrusive.
The eight-speed automatic shuffles gear changes quickly and smoothly, and it’s almost impossible to catch the transmission off-guard.
Pick up the pace and the pure torque surge becomes ridiculously addictive. From standstill, or rolling, the xDrive35d lunges forward - pushing you back into your seat with brutal speed yet unflappable linearity.
Whatever that dumpy style might suggest, this is one very fast car. BMW certainly has a reputation for building fine-handling sedans; and that reputation remains intact for its SUVs.
While the X4 isn’t quite the 'blade' on road the 3 Series is, it is nevertheless, and without a doubt, one of the nicest drives in its class.
Quick and agile steering gives the X4 xDrive35d the nimble handling of a sports sedan, however feedback from the steering is a little bit lacking.
Ride comfort poses no problems either, but it is worth noting that the car tested features optional 19-inch wheels (at no extra cost) in place of the standard 20-inch alloy wheels the xDrive35d comes with - something that may affect the ride comfort.
Adaptive dampers are also standard on the xDrive35d’s, and allow the suspension to adjust itself on the fly, as well as offering presets linked to the drive mode controller (Comfort, Sport, etc) that can firm or soften the ride at your whim.
ANCAP rating: The X4 range has yet to be tested by ANCAP
Safety features: Six airbags (dual front, front side and curtain airbags) ABS, EBD, brake assist, switchable traction control and stability control, 360-degree camera, front seatbelts with load limiting pretensioners.
BMW offers the Driving Assistant package, which includes lane departure warning, forward collision alert and mitigation for $900.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Until the as-yet unannounced Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe arrives, the X4 stands alone in its segment and runs up against more traditional SUVs, like the high-performance (and great sounding) Audi SQ5, the more expensive but more spacious Range Rover Sport, and the stylish and sublime, but less powerful, Porsche Macan S Diesel.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Under almost any other circumstances, we’d call the X4 xDrive35d a superbly balanced performer.
But this thing can release such an immense shower of torque that it really is 'imbalanced', a little mad, but in all the right ways.
It is also surprisingly user-friendly, styled a little differently, and sits in a somewhat unique place in the market. And it drives, stops, and steers with BMW’s traditional focus on driver enjoyment.
Perhaps more a fastback sedan than an SUV coupe, the X4 doesn’t sacrifice practicality in the way you might think. You can enjoy it as a car for the family, and for the guilty pleasures it offers to the driver.
For its combination of bold looks and brash performance, we think BMW has a winner here. Check it out for yourself.
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