The BMW X4 is the little brother to the monster X6. It’s another luxury crossover, introduced into the narrow gaps remaining in this german manufacturer’s lineup. I have never really liked it, and that’s purely based on one sole factor, which is my own dislike of SUV fastbacks. It has never appealed to me, and I much prefer the standard SUV shape like the X3 or X5. So when I saw this car coming up in our road tested review schedule, I thought it was going to be a pretty interesting test, and I made sure to put aside my personal quibbles and see what this crossover is all about. And what I experienced was quite unexpected.
Regardless of my thoughts on the sloping back, the X4 is quite a good looking piece of kit. The motorsport pack, which is generally just trims and some M badges, goes a long way to making it look a lot more aggressive than the regular model, and rightly so considering there is a over a 30k difference between the base price of the xDrive20d ($99,500) to the xDrive35d model which starts at $129,900. The very first and somewhat annoying thing I noticed about this model, was the standard keyless fobs. Like many other keyless vehicles before, I chucked it in my jacket not expecting to see it again anytime soon. But then found that the base models did not come with the complete comfort access, or keyless entry. So I had to get the key out to unlock the door and then put it away again, as the engine ignition is operated by a keyless push button. It just seemed a bit stupid to me, either have a key to enter and start the engine or don’t have a key, don’t half-ass it. To top this off, and get the other half of the keyless comfort access system, the option is $1200. It almost felt like you are being setup to add this package regardless.
Climbing on board the X4 felt like any other typical SUV in terms of height and seating position. It was quite spacious considering it’s built on the same frame as the X3, which did not feel as big inside. The interior of the X4 was pretty similar to the current range, nice clean lines and forms, nothing really standing to set it apart. Being a motorsport model it had a different steering wheel and sports seats for the driver and passenger, which were very comfy and gave really good bolster support. Even though the X4 is almost the same size as the X3, if felt a lot more spacious inside, and for a tall person you didn’t feel cramped at all. There was plenty of storage space, however I did not like the storage shelf under the radio controls. it was great when you didn’t have any drinks bottles in the car, but once you did it was impossible to get anything out without taking the bottles out. Similar can be said about the center console storage unit. It was a good size, but ruined by the additional mobile phone docking station. Which seemed to be standard, while also requiring an additional add on to allow the specific phone to dock with it. If you didn’t want it, you just lost a lot of good space under the central arm rest.
This X4 had been equipped with BMW’s new ConnectedDrive, which is one of the latest features being added to all of the BMW range. This basically means your car has a dedicated sim card, which allows it access to the internet. This system has a lot of features, from monitoring the status of your car, reporting any issues to your local BMW dealer, to complete access to the internet. While being kind of cool, seemed more a novelty than a useable feature. As I just could not think of a reason why I would use it over my normal smart phone which has an much easier interface. This system also allowed you to configure settings from your phone, and send things like a location for the nav to use from a PC, which is a lot easier than trying to type it in. And these are just some of the complete range of apps available for this system.
The X4 didn’t really feel like anything special, it just felt like an SUV, all be it slightly lighter than a normal SUV. Pottering around the city in comfort mode only highlighted one thing to me, the engine makes quite a bit of noise, and not the good sort. I have been a passenger in the X4 25d and the difference in engine noise was quite noticeable. It was obviously a grunty engine, from the sound alone as it was quite deep, but it would not have been mistaken for anything but a diesel. The ride was also quite a bit different from the 25d I was in, that did not have the Dynamic Damper Control option. This X4 even in comfort mode seemed to ride a bit harder than the X4 without it. It was only when driving over bumpy roads, and let’s face it Wellington city has more than its fair share of those, you kinda felt like you were being pushed around a bit. To me it felt like it was the X4’s light weight not creating enough pressure on the suspension to absorb and smooth out the uneven surfaces. If all you wanted was to drive around town, picking up the kids for school etc, my money would be on the 25d model without the Dynamic Damper Control package, as its ride is a lot smoother, and it would be more efficient to run.
You may be asking yourself, why would he recommend the cheaper car without these optional extras. Well it’s simple, the X4 being a crossover, falls into a gap between two classes of SUV, the X3 and the X5, one being a bit smaller and one being quite a bit bigger. But both of these are true SUV’s, while the X4 is trying to be a bit different, and if your lifestyle doesn’t require the extra space from either of the other models, and you know how you are going to use it, then you should know which one is best for your needs. This is the single biggest thing other reviews seem to miss as they all want to put it into a neat little slot. But it’s not for them to put in a slot, it’s for you the customer to say, “Yes, this is the one for me”. And if your needs lean towards something a bit more sporty and you want something a bit more exciting, then the 35d with the Dynamic Damper Control is the one you want. You will realise this the moment you switch from comfort to Sport or Sport +. The concerns about the loud engine and uneven city roads will instantly melt away.
This was where the X4 really surprised me, once in Sport +, which is my prefered of the two modes and the one I used the most. I found myself driving it more like a car then a tall SUV. The Dynamic Damper Control greatly reduces the body roll and gives you a lot of confidence to just throw it into a corner with your foot on the floor. It just powered out without any fears of it sliding around or any understeer due to the SUV’s weight. And the engine note changes too. Once you have the RPM up, the engine not only delivers a massive 630 Nm of torque, which can get you from 0-100 km h in 5.2 seconds, it also sounds pretty damn grunty too. After a few days driving it, I would often look back at it and think how I got so much enjoyment from driving an SUV, it just didn’t seem right at all. One other thing that really impressed me after my spirited driving sessions was the fuel economy. After a week I was getting 7.0L per 100km. And to say that I had been driving in a efficient fuel saving manner would be quite an understatement. I reckon that if you drove this car in a more efficient manner you should have no problem achieving the official figures of 6.0L per 100km BMW states in the brochure, I think you could even get it lower, the only problem is the fun I had with the Dynamic Damper Control and my lead foot.
What it’s up against.
The crossover segment of the SUV market is growing like a giant’s beanstalk. Each manufacturer wants a big chunk of it and the competition is massive. I am quite surprised at how expensive this BMW X4 xDrive35d is as they do not normally sit at the top in this rankings. Considering the standard options on some of the other brands the 35d may find it hard to compete compared to the 20d.
Mid Size Luxury SUV’s
|Brand / Model||Engine||Power||Fuel L/100km||Luggage Capacity||Price Highest to Lowest|
|BMW X4 xDrive35d||3.0 L Inline 6 Twin Turbo Diesel||230 Kw / 630 Nm||6.0 L / 100km||500 Litres||$129,900|
|Audi SQ5||3.0 L V6 BiTDi||230 Kw / 650 Nm||6.8 L / 100km||540 Litres||$125,500|
|Mercedes-Benz ML 350 BlueTec||3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel||190 Kw / 620 Nm||7.3 L / 100km||690 Litres||$121,900|
|Porsche Macan S Diesel||3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel||190 Kw / 580 Nm||6.3 L / 100km||500 Litres||$118,000|
|Lexus NX Hybrid||2.5L Inline 4 Hybrid||145 Kw / 210 Nm||5.7 L / 100km||475 Litres||$95,900|
|Range Rover Evoque Dynamic||2.2L Inline 4 Turbo||140 Kw / 420 Nm||6.0 L / 100km||550 Litres||$94,000|
The good and the bad.
What do we think ?
Overall I quite like the X4, but I would never buy one. This is purely down to its crossover fastback shape, it’s simply not for me. But putting my personal tastes aside, and if you like the fast back look you will find that BMW have put together a pretty solid vehicle, it’s nice to drive, and you can have a bit of fun with the sports mode options. It’s comfortable, spacious for its size and very practical and economical. But it is very pricey at $129,900, especially once you take into account some of the alternatives who are serious contenders, and their array of standard option packages, it may be hard to justify. This alone could see the X4 xDrive35d easily lose out in your final selection.
Rating – Chevron rating 3.5 out of 5 2014 BMW X4 xDrive35d
|Vehicle Type||Front Engine, 4WD Luxury Crossover SUV|
|Starting Price||$ 129,900 NZD|
|Tested Price||$ 132,400 NZD|
|Engine||3.0 L Twin Turbocharged Diesel I6, 230 Kw, 630 Nm|
|Transmission||8-Speed M Double Clutch Drivelogic|
|0 – 100 kph||5.2 seconds|
|Kerb Weight||1860 kg|
|Length x Width x Height||4671 x 2089 x 1624 mm|
|Cargo Capacity||500-1400 Litres|
|Fuel Tank||67 litres|
|Fuel||Urban – 6.7 L/100kmMotorway – 5.5 L/100kmCombined – 6.0 L/100km, 148 g/km CO2|
|ANCAP Safety Ratings||Yet to be tested|