Sporty Package, Elegant Delivery

Sporty Package, Elegant Delivery

With its slicked-back roofline and choice performance upgrades, the upcoming BMW X4 is set to outplay the Porsche Macan or a Range Rover Evoque, by appealing to their markets full on.

From what we’ve seen in recent international automotive festivals, the X4 purposely hones down the rear end of a more traditionally shaped sport-utility vehicle, to give it a more stylish stance. At first look, the X4 does a better job of smoothing out its roofline compared to the X6. This is certainly one of the pluses that we enjoyed seeing and testing.

Inside, the X4 offers a similar design to the X3, with aluminum and wood trim — or a choice of an M Sport or an xLine package. The M Sport adds special paint choices, interior trim, bigger wheel-and-tire combinations and sport seats; xLine does the same visual change-up, with a glossier bent. As is expected from any BMW, the X4 feels at its best in Sport mode, where the electronics set up swifter steering responses and a tauter ride feel. The X4 gets BMW’s variable-ratio sport steering standard; it has a relaxed on-center feel, good stability at higher speeds and, we think, a little more feedback than the stock Servotronic units in the X3s we’ve driven.

Stop/start is standard and sometimes can send shivers through the X4, but it helps lift gas mileage, which is rated by the EPA at 20/28 mpg or 23 mpg for the turbo four, 19/27/22 mpg for the turbo six. Like the X3, the X4 has an ECO PRO mode that can shut off the car’s gas when the driver releases the throttle, allowing it to coast. In overall footprint, the X4 isn’t quite identical to that of the X3. It’s still a three-seater in back, but BMW has sculpted the seat cushions to give preference to two passengers. Passenger space remains fine for adults in front and the second-row seat suffers only marginally from the headroom issues you’d expect in a low-roofed X3 spin-off.

Cargo space is made slightly more compact, but still checks in at 17.7 cubic feet behind the back seat, or 49.4 cubic feet behind the front seats — that’s roughly enough to haul home a sofa table. It’s accessible via a power tailgate, with an option for Smart Opener — the system that uses sensors to detect a foot waving under the rear bumper, which triggers the tailgate to open.

No official data is yet available for the X4’s safety aspect, but since the X3 has been a reliable safety performer, we can expect the same, if not more, from the new BMW X4. What we do know so far is that it does include plenty of airbags and options for adaptive cruise control, a forward-collision and a lane-departure warning system and BMW’s bank of 360-degree, surround-view cameras. Parking Assistant lets the X4 steer itself into parallel parking spots while the driver attends the controls as a backup.

BMW’s iDrive and the high-contrast, wide-view screen are standard on the 2015 X4, while navigation is an option. When it’s fitted, the iDrive controller also gets a touchpad surface, so destinations and other inputs can be entered as handwriting. All X4 variants also get paddle shift controls, sport steering, rear parking sensors and a leather steering wheel. BMW Apps are among the available features; Apps connects smartphones to deliver streams from Pandora, Rhapsody and Stitcher, among others.
Other standard features include a synthetic-leather interior, steering-wheel multi-function controls, a power tailgate, wood trim, rear parking sensors, automatic climate control, Bluetooth and USB connections and power front seats. Major option packages include the M Sport group (with sport seats, sport steering wheel, aero kit and higher top speed), the xLine group including 19-inch wheels and gloss trim, a rear-view camera, surround-view cameras and blind spot monitors, adaptive cruise control and a tech package that bundles navigation, a head-up display and real-time traffic and data services.

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