BMW didn’t invent the coupe crossover but has committed to it, most recently with the X4, following the larger X6. It’s basically an X3 with a tapered roofline, a stylized utility vehicle that gives up function for fashion. The BMW X4 is intended to compete with the Porsche Macan, Range Rover Evoque, and Lincoln MKC. It seats four, though there are seatbelts for five.
The BMW X4 comes with either a four-cylinder turbo or six-cylinder turbo. The base engine is BMW’s latest small workhorse, a sweet 2.0-liter making 240 horsepower, mated to a talented 8-speed automatic in the all-wheel-drive X4 xDrive28i model. The 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder turbo makes 300 horsepower in the X4 xDrive35i. The 2.0-liter will do zero to 60 in 6.0 seconds, the 3.0-liter in 5.2 seconds.
Every X4 is all-wheel drive. BMW’s xDrive splits power 40/60 front to rear on dry roads, but can go 0/100 if the rears need all the grip. The xDrive all-wheel drive in the X4 is intended to improve road performance, more than making the car off-road capable.
Driving Dynamics Control is standard, enabling you to choose modes to suit your needs or desires. There is Normal, Sport, and Sport Plus, plus Eco Pro for economy.
The BMW X4 was all new in 2015, and there was no M model to compete with the Porsche Macan. But that changes, with the 2016 BMW X4 M40i, which squeezes another 55 horsepower out of the 3.0-liter engine. Torque is 343 pound-feet, propelling the all-wheel-drive coupe/crossover to 60 miles per hour in 4.7 seconds, with an electronically limited top speed of 150 mph.
The M40i gets special tuning for the suspension, transmission and steering; a sport-tuned exhaust system with a resonator that pumps some engine noise into the cabin; and 20-inch wheels and tires. The cockpit also gets a leather gear shift lever, steering wheel, sports seats, instrument cluster and door sills.
Stop/Start is standard, and it often sends shivers through the X4, as it does in every BMW we’ve driven. Technically, it exists to improve fuel mileage, although the improvement is small; engineers from all manufacturers admit it’s mostly a gimmick to get credits from the federal EPA that the manufacturers can then apply to the cars with big engines. In any event, the four-cylinder X4 rates an EPA-estimated 20/28 miles per gallon City/Highway; while the six-cylinder gets just 1 mpg less than that. That’s in Eco Pro mode, which totally shuts off the gas when the driver lifts off the throttle.
The BMW X4 is built in the U.S., at the company’s big plant in South Carolina, along with the X3, X5, and X6. The X4 has not yet been crash-tested by the government.
The X4 carries over to 2016 largely unchanged. The 2016 X4’s Bluetooth and USB add sync for a second phone, functions like photos and calendars, and voice control for contacts and music. A Harman Kardon surround system is now standard on the 2016 BMW X4 xDrive 35i.
BMW X4 models come standard with front-wheel drive and are available with a choice of engines, the X4 xDrive28i ($46,245) with 2.0-liter four-cylinder, the X4 xDrive35i ($50,695) with turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder, and the X4 M40i with a high-performance version of the 3.0-liter engine.
Standard equipment includes paddle shifters for the automatic transmission, an excellent synthetic leather interior, wood and aluminum trim, power front seats, power tailgate, and iDrive control with a high-contrast wide screen.
Leather upholstery ($1450), rearview camera ($700), and navigation are optional. Major option packages include the xLine group ($1500) with 19-inch wheels and gloss trim; M Sport group ($2300) with sport seats and steering wheel, higher top speed, and aero kit; and Tech package ($2750) including navigation and a head-up display. Stand-alone options include surround-view cameras and blind spot monitors ($1700), and adaptive cruise control ($1200).
In profile, the X4 is curvaceous, even gracious, better looking than its big sibling the X6. The line at its shoulders and C-pillars is sweet. But walk closer, and its rear end looks big.
The base trim is aluminum and wood, with the M Sport line adding sport seats and badges, and X-Line adding gloss.
The space for the front passenger is fine. Headroom in the rear doesn’t suffer as much as you might expect from the low roof.
Cargo space is only a bit less than the X3, with 17.7 cubic feet behind the back seat and or 49.4 cubic feet with the rear seats down. There is a power tailgate, with an option for opening by waving a foot under the rear bumper, a good idea copied from the Ford Escape.
We found the dynamics of the X4 xDrive35i to be much like that of the X3 SUV, even though the X4 is 1.5 inches lower. The X4 is maybe a bit sharper; like the X3, it’s athletic and agile for its size, without much nose dive or excessive body motion. Not surprising, given we would not expect much nose dive or excessive body motion in any BMW.
In Sport mode, with quicker throttle and steering and a tighter suspension, it feels best. The standard variable-ratio sport steering feels relaxed and stable, better than the steering in the X3. The X4 has Performance Control, which uses the electronic stability control to dab the brakes on the inside front wheel to improve cornering.
We highly recommend opting for the adaptive dampers.
The BMW X4 is stylish and is relatively responsive and sporty for its size and weight, but it is pricey for what is essentially an X3 with a sportier roofline.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection.