Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $83,900 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 190kW/560Nm 3.0 turbodiesel 6cyl | 8spd auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 6.1 l/100km | tested: 8.2 l/100km
It's true of the bigger X6, and it's true here: when it comes to the styling, there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground with the BMW X4.
You either love the way it looks, or you'll have a well-rehearsed argument at the ready to bag it.
And that’s okay.
BMW isn’t looking to put one in every driveway, but the carmaker has a cleverly-devised SUV here for those who find the conventional X3 a little too mainstream.
Like the X6 that forged the fast-back SUV path before it, the X4 blends muscular flanks and a brash front end with a swooping roofline.
And despite the style-driven looks, the practical aspects aren’t as severely impacted as you might think.
With a 3.0 litre diesel straight-six, the xDrive 30d model is the torquiest in the range - so we needed to find out just what this slippery-looking sledgehammer had to offer.
- Electrically adjustable ‘Nevada’ leather trimmed seats.
- Surround view and rear-view cameras.
- Multi-function sports steering wheel with gearshift paddles.
- 40:20:40 folding rear seats, cargo rails in boot floor.
- Automatic opening powered tailgate.
- Satellite navigation with 8.8 inch screen and iDrive controller.
- Dual zone climate control.
- Boot capacity: 500 litres (seats up), 1400 litres (seats folded).
While it might be a little different externally, the interior is far more conventional and borrows heavily from the X3 on which it’s based.
It might look a little conservative for some, but it is - at the very least - perfectly functional.
There are impressive finishes to the dash plastics, and a rich ‘thick leather’ feel to the seat trim.
To allow for a roofline that is 36mm lower than the X3, the seats have been lowered by 20mm up front and 15mm in the rear.
Because of this there’s minimal interruption to headroom, but under-seat foot space is reduced for rear seat occupants.
The electrically-adjustable front seats are easy to set, offer long-haul comfort, and, despite the altered driving position, still provide a commanding view ahead.
In the rear, the swooping doorline means you might have you bob your head getting in, but once inside there’s a surprising amount of headroom.
In the boot you'll find a range of versatile additions including cargo rails with sliding hooks, oddments storage, and retractable bag-hooks.
With the seats up there’s 500 litres of space (the same as an X3 below the cargo blind).
A 40:20:40 folding rear seat allows versatile long loading, and with all stowed there’s 1400 litres to the roof - 200 litres down on the X3, mostly due to the sloping electrically operated hatch-like tail.
ON THE ROAD
- 190kW/560Nm turbo diesel 3.0 litre in-line six.
- Eight speed automatic, torque vectoring xDrive all-wheel-drive.
- Double wishbone front suspension with multi-link rear.
- ‘Efficient Dynamics’ systems including regenerative braking and stop-start.
- 19-inch two-tone ‘xLine’ alloy wheels
There’s no doubt that modern diesel engines can hold their own as thoroughly capable performance engines, and BMW’s 3.0 litre straight-six turbo diesel well and truly fits that metric.
Carrying 190kW at 4000rpm, and with a mountain-levelling 560Nm from 1500 to 3000rpm, it’s not hard to muster a mighty shove in the back.
Rolling acceleration in particular is a treat, with enormous reserves of thrust on standby at all times.
Between the engine and the xDrive all-wheel-drive system, you’ll find BMW’s well-judged eight-speed automatic.
Tied to the diesel engine it feels no less crisp than petrol versions and delivers effortlessly-smooth gear changes.
There is however a feeling of low-rev softness around town. In stop-start driving, without the ability to reach its fat torque peak, the engine can feel a touch too docile.
Ultimately that sensation adds a level of refinement - it keeps jerkiness at bay and makes for much smoother progress in more frustrating traffic situations.
Head for the open road and there’s nothing but calm, quiet cruising, loping along at low revs and barely sipping at the fuel. The X4 with 30d engine makes an ideal tourer.
The only time the 3.0 litre engine sounds identifiably diesel-like is when idling from cold - but even then that disturbance is minimal.
Once the engine up to operating temperature the stop-start system kicks in, noise and vibration are silenced and restart cycles are fast and smooth.
There’s a firm edge to the ride - at no point is it rough or crude, just taut. Properly Teutonic, if you will, and possibly not what you’d expect in a high riding SUV.
The result though is handling that is confidence inspiring. There’s endless grip from the torque vectoring all-wheel-drive system, level cornering, and steering that turns in crisply and a flat front-end.
ANCAP rating: The BMW X4 has yet to be tested by ANCAP
Safety features: Standard equipment includes dual front, front side and curtain airbags are as well as ABS, EBD, brake assist, switchable traction control and stability control.
All seats feature adjustable head restraints and three point seatbelts, with front seats featuring load limiting pyrotechnic pretensioners.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
On form alone, the X4 is an entirely unique beast with no other manufacturer offering a coupe-like roofline on their SUV ranges.
However, slot it against premium wagons with diesel engines that pull like a train, and there are a few very good options.
Both the Porsche Macan and Audi SQ5 are built with a deliberate performance bias, the Evoque puts design at the forefront, while the Lexus RX offers something different with a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Distinctive? Yes. Unique? Well, with the exception of its big brother, the X6, yes. But compromised? Surprisingly, no.
BMW's new X4 is the SUV for anyone who doesn’t want to be saddled with the mum-and-dad stigma of a big boxy wagon.
All those SUV attributes of commanding driving position and easy loading remain - but take a look out the slender rear window and you could easily convince yourself you’re at the helm of a sporting fastback.
While it certainly won’t suit all tastes, the X4’s divisive style will be part of the charm for potential buyers - something that Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche have no answer for yet.
And 'it is what it is' with little compromise to versatility. The truth, in fact, is that the X4 can be every bit as useful as a wagon if that’s how you choose to use it.
Add in the well-sorted handling, eager performance and potent diesel engine, and the X4 xDrive 30d becomes a very likeable beast indeed.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- BMW X4 xDrive20i - $69,900
- BMW X4 xDrive20d - $73,400
- BMW X4 xDrive30d - $83,900
- BMW X4 xDrive35i - $87,430
MORE: BMW X4 News & Reviews