Wheels

En­gine : 2,979cc, tur­bocharged Trans­mis­sion : 8-speed Au­to­matic Horse Power : 306bhp at 58006400rpm Fuel : 8.3L/100km

THE MAN Magazine Cambodia - - Contents -

BMW’s looked for ways to make the X5 more in­ter­est­ing to look at, more fuel-ef­fi­cient, and more com­fort­able.

Avail­abil­ity Auguest 2014

BMW are masters of the niche now. Since 2008 they’ve launched nearly 15 new mod­els – which is nearly three new cars a year. Now it’s launched two more new cars at the same time: Both in­volve the num­ber four and the same num­ber of doors. Or not. We’re talk­ing about the X4, which we re­view here, and the 4 Se­ries Gran Coupe, and both cars ac­tu­ally have five doors.

Mar­ket­ing aside, the Niche New Wave (sort of like New Wave, but with re­duced door counts in­stead of big hair and shoul­der pads) is a po­lar­iz­ing thing for all of us – par­tic­u­larly to en­thu­si­asts but also to reg­u­lar car buy­ers. Af­ter all, why would I want to buy some­thing I can’t ex­plain with less than ten words, the job of which other mod­els han­dle equally well? So the po­ten­tial for dis­as­ter is al­ways there – that’s the niche risk. Then again, BMW likes to take risks, it’s part of the cor­po­rate cul­ture. Some­times they work – the X6 in the USA is a good ex­am­ple – and some­times they don’t - the X6 every­where else is a good ex­am­ple. It’s global sales have been a quar­ter of a mil­lion units - not spec­tac­u­lar, but still good con­sid­er­ing the non-main­stream na­ture of the ve­hi­cle.

Still, it’s taken some time for the shrunken ver­sion of the X6, the new X4 to ap­pear on the scene. While Mercedes and Audi have taken ’first car’ ku­dos in other seg­ments, the X4 is still the first four-door coupe styled sport util­ity ve­hi­cle (SUV) on the mar­ket.

As men­tioned, it has a fast­back rear shape - just like the X6, it has a curved roofline which con­cludes in an el­e­gant rear-end. It looks ob­vi­ously dif­fer­ent from the BMW X3 with which it shares its un­der­pin­nings - very lit­tle has been changed, me­chan­i­cally, so it’s al­most iden­ti­cal in terms of plat­form, driv­e­train and in­te­rior. Which is the rea­son the X4 ex­ists, re­ally: take the ex­pe­ri­ence of an X3 and coupe-ify it - make it look nicer and drive a lit­tle more keenly. The X4’s more ag­gres­sive front end makes the car look like it’s go­ing to eat some road - or bite the car in front - while the fact that it’s not mas­sive like the X6 means it ap­pears, to us, more dy­namic and less im­pos­ing. As a ‘coupe’, it’s also about five cen­time­tres lower than the X3.

Not that it lacks road pres­ence - be­ing fol­lowed by the high-rid­ing X4 clad in strik­ing Mel­bourne Red is some­thing even lack­adaisi­cal driv­ers will be aware of. Keep­ing it be­hind might even be quite dif­fi­cult, in the case of the xDrive35i model. The fa­mil­iar 35i en­gine con­fig, with ‘xDrive’ all-wheel drive pro­pels the car to 100km/h from noth­ing in only 5.5 sec­onds, so it’s re­ally quite rapid in real life, while the eight-speed gear­box is su­perb and al­most fault­less.

Yet the im­pres­sion one gets from driv­ing the X4 is not one of out­right speed but that of calm and tran­quil­ity. Yes, it doesn’t make sense, not in the least be­cause BMW’s X cars have tra­di­tion­ally had quite a busy low-fre­quency ride qual­ity (that is, jud­der­ing over the small stuff), a char­ac­ter­is­tic which made them im­pos­si­ble to drive com­fort­ably on a gravel road, for in­stance.

The new X5 puts that shak­i­ness in the past, while the X4 seals the deal. It rides ex­tremely well, pos­si­bly even bet­ter than a prop­erly-specced 5 Se­ries sedan. The proof is in the fact that we tack­led the moun­tain roads of Spain not in Com­fort, or Sport, but the most ex­treme Sport+ mode.

While the X4 is lower than the X3, it still boasts a high seat­ing po­si­tion, so it pro­vides good vis­i­bil­ity for cor­ner carv­ing, ex­cept in sit­u­a­tions like left-hand turns (in Europe) where the A-pil­lar gets a bit cum­ber­some. But the solid-ness of the drive over­comes those mis­giv­ings, as the X4 feels like it en­joys go­ing along for a ra-

pid ride. In Sport+, with less DSC in­ter­ven­tion, the xDrive sys­tem will give lit­tle twitches when you want to get the power on rapidly out of a tight hair­pin, and you can do your own happy lit­tle rally driver im­pres­sions in great com­fort. Our only other com­plaint here is that the eight­speed gear­box can feel a lit­tle slow on the down­shift, which high­lights the fact that it’s bet­ter in semi-dy­namic sit­u­a­tions. But this is an ob­ser­va­tion that the X4’s very-to­gether drive puts into con­trast. The cabin is also no­tice­ably qui­eter than the X3’s, as the car al­most slices through the air with lit­tle dis­tur­bance, and only well into triple fig­ure speeds will you no­tice wind noise. Ta­pered roof lines and fast­back rears are now de rigeur for four-door coupes of all breeds, but in the X4’s case it doesn’t spell for bad head­room for the guys in the back. You can still fit four in com­fort, five with a bit of squeeze, and the boot space is 500-litres, or 50-litres less than an X3’s. Mak­ing up for this is the fact that the load­ing aper­ture is now even big­ger, and you can still fold all the seats down. The rest of the in­te­rior is the same, well-made stuff that the X3 boasts, al­though BMW will likely of­fer a lit­tle more in terms of up­hol­stery op­tions and choices unique to the X4. The key dif­fer­ence is that there’s now a ‘safety but­ton’ just un­der the iDrive dis­play, which in­te­grates all the safety nan­nies into one eas­ier oper­a­tion. That also means the lock but­ton moves to the most log­i­cal po­si­tion, near the door han­dle, fi­nally. So BMW isn’t mak­ing his­tory with the X4, even if it is the first four-door-coupe-style-SUV-thingy-thing of its ilk on the mar­ket. Its aim is not eas­ily de­scribed, but then again, BMW was still able to sell lots of X6s in its time. But if that car had been an X4, we think it would have done even bet­ter.

Cor­ners. The X4 takes’em well.

You get 500 litres of boot space. Not enough? You can al­ways...

Comfy back here for two. Less so for three

This pow­er­plant is a pow­er­house

You sit so high up, all you see is cloud

Swoopy tail light for a swoopy sil­hou­ette

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