2015 BMW X4

The X factor

"The X4 remains loyal to its maker's genes, the X6," said Nabil

"The X4 can be considered a mini X6"

"The X4 is based on the X3's platform"

"The X4 was plenty quick and fast"

For more than a year now, BMW has been launching model after model at a quick rate, to the extent that it has gotten us all lost and dazed: 2 series, 4 series, Grand Tursimo, Grand Coupe and now a new X model, the X4, a new Sport Activity Vehicle that follows in the footsteps of the X6. ArabWheels travelled to the furthest most northern Spanish city of Bilbao to sample BMW's new X and found out that it remains loyal to its maker's genes of excellent driving talents. 

Driving Impressions
The idea of developing a new X can be credited to the X6, which has attracted roughly a quarter-million people from around the globe since its first debut in 2008. That was encouraging enough for BMW to apply the formula to a lower segment in the form of the X4, which can be considered a mini X6. And if the X6 was too big and expensive for some folks, then the X4 will be more affordable and it will no doubt create a sales rush much like its big brother, if not greater.

To cut time and cost, the X4 is based on the X3's platform and the two models share hoods and headlamps as well as most of the mechanical components. However, the rest of the exterior is unique craft of the A-pillars, and the X4 gets its own front fascia as well. And like the X6, the X4 features a coupe-like sloping roofline that has been chopped and lowered and which ends in a small short tail. The coupe theme is evident in the visual illusion that it is a two-door car.

If you see the interior of any modern BMW these days, you've seen it all, as there's a lot (and I do mean a lot) of commonalties among most of its cars in terms of design, overall look and components. And the X4 cabin does not bring any new and interesting surprises here, but the execution is high-class and all the materials are of sound quality, and all the control buttons and switches are logically and user-friendly laid down for quick and safe operation.

Thanks to the lower seating, the lowered roofline doesn't cut into the passenger's space as much as it seems, as the rear seat users still enjoy a lot of headroom, and the long wheelbase ensures decent leg and knee room for full-size adults. The boot is big and it can swallow between 500 liters (rear seats up) and 1400 liters (rear seats down) behind a smart 40:20:40 split rear seat bench. And with the lower perched front and rear seats, the command seating position preferred by crossover buyers is slightly less commanding in here than in the X3, but X4 drivers nevertheless remain perched above drivers of ordinary saloons.

We drove the X4 with the top spec turbocharged 3.0 liter inline-six (xDrive 35i) that whips up 306 hp from 5800 to 6400 rpm and 400 Nm of torque from 1200 to 5000 rpm. Drive is all-wheel all the time (xDrive) as standard and transmission is by the excellent ZF 8HP eight-speed automatic.

At 1800 kilograms, the X4 can't be considered obese (the Macan is heavier by a few kg), and the turbo six-cylinder makes the best out. The X4 was plenty quick and fast: charging to 100 km in about 5.5 seconds, crossing the quarter mile in 13.9 seconds and reaching a respectable top speed of 247 km. The straight-six is a gem of an engine as anybody who has driven one since its first debut five years ago will know. It spins fast and lighting quick to the red line, where the transparent eight-speed box steps in and changes with equal swiftness and smoothness.

The lower ride height and therefore the lower center of gravity in the X4, which does help vehicle dynamics, were clear as we charged up the high Basque mountains. Here and in Sport mode in the driving experience system, the car displayed superb body control during hard cornering with minimum body lean and fast turn-in thanks to the all-wheel-drive system that works seamlessly as it shuttles torque between the wheels and keeps the four corners of the cars tucked in line with no drift at all. BMW continues to make its electromechanical power-steering system better and better, and this is one of its best yet, offering good accuracy and progressive weighting as cornering loads increase. And the brakes, big vented discs all-around, halt the vehicle in short secure stopping distances every time. 

Verdict
As we went to press, BMW Middle East had not declared the price of the X4, but it will surely cost a few thousand of dollars more than a similar X3. Here, you pay more to get less (room), but the X4 presents a very attractive alternative all together. We really liked it, especially on those beautiful twisty mountain roads where it confirmed its true colors.

Pros: a mini X6, feels & drives like a true BMW
Cons: interior too familiar
Rivals: Porsche Macan, Mercedes-Benz GLK 

Specs

Engine: Twin Turbo 3.0L, inline 6-cylinder, 306 hp, 400 Nm
Transmission: AWD, 8-speed auto transmission with manual shifting and paddle shifters
Performance: 0-100 km (5.5 seconds), top speed (247 km)
Economy: 8.3 liters/100 km
Weight: 1852 kg
One word: Genetic

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