The luxury marque’s latest coupé-inspired SUV is as comfortable on the school run as it is on the racetrack, writes Toby Hagon.
The BMW X4 gets full marks on the school run and the track
The sales pitch for SUVs typically revolves around family comfort and everyday practicality. So there’s a certain contradiction with our initial test of the second-generation BMW X4, which includes a blast around a racetrack with the broad low-profile tyres yelping from the punishment.
It’s part of the DNA of the four-door to ramp up the driving excitement over the X3 with which it shares so much beneath the surface. Key to the X4’s talents are rear wheels spaced 30mm further apart than its stablemate, the foundation of cornering nous.
The xDrive all-wheel system diverts force to all four wheels but you can select Sport mode to play up the rear-biased dynamics, with the emphasis on driving enjoyment. There’s a trade-off with firmer suspension that amplifies imperfections on the road but it’s a mild compromise for a wagon that does its best to resist unwanted leaning. The sports focus pulses through the rest of the car. The X4’s toned body places the emphasis on design over space, its roof tapering sharply, inspired by the plunging low-slung silhouette of a coupé.
The X4 will swallow a family’s go-anywhere gear and stand proud on the school run but the back seat headroom has taken a hit and the falling roofline is the culprit. At least the leg room is generous and there are hints of practical thinking in the boot, with a 40/20/40split folding back seat to expand the thoroughly useful load area.
The entry price starts at $76,900 for the xDrive 20i with M Sport styling pack. Its 2.0-litre turbo produces a modest 135kW and 290Nm. That makes the $7000 step up to the xDrive 30i more appealing, with the same engine boosted to produce 185kW and 350Nm. It drives through a slick-shifting eight-speed auto, one that effortlessly allows the engine to explore its upper rev limits. Those chasing more muscle can choose the M40i, with its 265kW/500Nm six-cylinder. Down the track there will be even heartier M versions.
While the BMW X4 is no replacement for a traditional coupé, the blend of driving flair and high-riding city style makes a compelling case for those looking to stand out from the wagon crowd. All with enough functionality to satisfy the SUV must-haves.
ENGINE 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol TRANSMISSION Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive POWER/TORQUE 185kW/350Nm 0-100KM/H 6.3 secondsFUEL ECONOMY 7.8L/100km (average) PRICE $83,900