This is the new BMW X4. BMW’s latest niche-buster was previewed as a close-to-production concept in April 2013, but now you’re looking at the showroom-ready X4 that’ll reach UK dealerships in July 2014.
Is the BMW X4 just a shrunken X6?
In effect, yes. BMW is applying its purist-riling but commercially successful SAC (Sports Activity Coupe) template to the BMW X3 to create the new X4, just as the last-gen X5 begat the sloping-roofed X6.
The dimensions of the X4 follow suit: it’s 14mm longer than an X3 and 36mm lower overall. BMW’s tried to hint at a sporting character inside the car too: the driver and front seat passenger sit 20mm lower than they would in an X3 – the rear-seat passengers lower still, by 28mm.
Unlike the bigger, pricier X6, which remains a four-seater unless the owner ticks a three-abreast bench option, the X4 can seat five people as standard. However, the roofline’s highest point is directly above the driver’s head – rear passenger headroom is likely to be at a premium.
There’s a cargo capacity penalty too. Open the X4’s motorised tailgate and you find a 500-litre boot, expanded to 1440 litres with the rear seats dropped. The frumpier X3 boasts 550 litres with all five seats up, and 1600 in van-mode.
Is the X4 more expensive than an X3?
Yes – you pay lots more for less practicality. The X4 starts at £36,590 for the entry-level model, a 187bhp/295lb ft 2.0-litre diesel with all-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox. That’s a £3600 premium over an equivalent X3.
Why am I being charged more for less car?
BMW claims the X4’s dynamics put the X3 so far in the shade that the space trade-off is worth it. The proof of that pudding will come in the form of two rumoured M Performance flagships: the X4 M40i and X4 M40d.
Yet coupes aren’t just sold on smiles-per-mile (even ‘four-door’ ones) – they’re bought for their looks too – and that’s where the X4 is more controversial. Seen here in M Sport guise, it’s a divisive design: distinctive and controversial in equal measure. Tell us your thoughts about the new BMW X4’s looks in the comments.
Which other engines can I have in my X4?
It’s diesel only for the UK, like the X3 range. Top of the heap is the six-cylinder X4 xDrive35d, good for 309bhp, 465lb ft, and 0-62mph in 5.2sec. BMW claims this X4, which will hit 153mph flat out, can achieve up to 47.1mpg.
Sitting in the middle of the range is the six-pot X4 xDrive30d. Power is down to 255bhp and 413lb ft, but it’s only 0.8mpg more frugal than the flagship model, according to BMW’s figures. Both of the six-cylinder diesel engines are mated with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard.
Amongst the enormous options list, there’s the choice of 17in ‘aero-wheels’ for the X4 xDrive20d and xDrive30d. While they won’t make your 4x4-coupe fly, BMW claims that their low-drag design, when twinned with low-friction tyres, cuts CO2 emissions by a 7g/km. That takes the least powerful X4 to 129g/km, making it cleaner than a Mini Cooper S with a manual gearbox (133g/km). Not bad for a big, bluff family SUV.
Standard X4 equipment includes speed-sensitive steering, 18in alloys, parking sensors and Xenon headlights. Heated front seats, BMW’s ‘Business Media’ infotainment package and split folding rear seats feature on all models too, plus that automatic tailgate.
>> Is the BMW X4 now the smart SUV choice, or just a nonsensical niche? The floor is open for your comments