Mo­tor­ing

The lux­ury mar­que’s lat­est coupé-in­spired SUV is as com­fort­able on the school run as it is on the race­track, writes Toby Hagon.

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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

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