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Tony O'Kane | Nov, 20 2013 | 4 Comments


BMW may be working on a performance version of its upcoming fastbacked SUV, the X4, if comments from the brand's local boss are anything to go by.

Designed to take the fight to Porsche’s incoming Macan, the X4’s hi-po variant won’t wear an “X4 M” badge on its rump, but will rather be marketed under BMW’s M Performance brand.

In the BMW hierarchy, the M Performance brand straddles the gap between regular road-going models and full-fledged M cars like the M3 and X5 M.

And, speaking to TMR at the local launch of the new X5 range, BMW Group Australia Managing Director Phil Horton says that the go-fast X4 will likely use a diesel rather than a petrol powerplant.

Such a configuration will also make it a natural rival for Audi’s SQ5 performance SUV, which produces 230kW and 650Nm from a 3.0 litre twin-turbo diesel V6 and wears a price tag of $89,400.

When asked about plans to expand the range of diesel performance offerings beyond the existing X5 M50d and X6 M50d, Horton said that there were no immediate plans to do so.

“We already have in Europe the 5-series sedan and estate M50d, but those two cars weren’t available in RHD so we weren’t able to take them even if we’d wanted to,” he said.

“But there are plans to expand the diesel M offering. I think where there might be potential is in the new X4, which we’ll be bringing in next year. "

“X4 will be our [Porsche] Macan competitor. We tend to put the X6 against the Cayenne as being our sportier SUV, so the X4 will naturally fall against the Macan."

Asked what that meant for a performance offering, Horton said that a full-fledged M car wasn’t part of the plan for the X4 - but that a high-output diesel was likely.

“There is some discussion about, not an M car, but an M Performance car. Potentially with a diesel engine, but I’m not sure that that’s actually a confirmed product as yet,” Horton said to TMR.

“But that would probably be a natural expansion of the M Performance range and I’m sure that would go with diesel rather than petrol.”

As for what powertrain may get the nod, it’s unlikely that BMW will shoehorn the triple-turbo 3.0 litre diesel inline six from the X5 M50d under the X4’s bonnet.

A single-turbo six similar to that in the X3 xDrive30d or a high-output 2.0 litre turbo diesel four would be likelier options.

Asked if an X4 M Performance model was on his wishlist for Australia, Horton’s reply was enthusiastic.

“We’d want to take that product, absolutely. I think the X4 will be an interesting car for us.”

“X6 sells something like 10 percent of where X5 is, but I would hope that something like X4 would get up to something like one third or 25 percent [of X3 volume].

“Given that the SUV/SAV market in Australia now as opposed to when we launched the X6 seven years ago is much more mature and there are many more offerings, I think that there actually is going to be a strong market for the X4.

“Because there are so many SUVs, there are going to be people out there that are looking for something that’s a little bit different, that makes a little bit more of statement, but they still want that SUV functionality and space.

The BMW X4 is due to arrive in Australia sometime in 2014. The X4 will be priced slightly higher than the X3 range of medium SUVs, which currently retails between $59,000 and 76,500.

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