The muscular and imposing X4 looks fantastic. (Image: Tom White)
The BMW X4 seems to be a car for people who want an SUV without the practicality, or a sexy coupe that doesn't sit low to the ground, and does have four doors. It's a segment that can create some confusion and yet, looking at the X4 from the kerb, you can see why people might desire one. It's an attractive if unusual beast. But what's it like to live with?
Look, personally I found it amusingly weird when German car companies started sloping the roofs on sedans and calling them “coupes”, despite the fact that they had four doors. Their ability to imagine segments, and find buyers in them, that have no reason to exist is almost something to admire.
But turning SUVs, like the already very capable X3, into coupes? Frankly, it’s like turning an ass into an elbow. Lower the roof to reduce headroom and shrink the boot? Why? Because it will look so sexy people won’t be able to resist it. That’s BMW’s approach with the X4 and, somehow, it seems to work.
And, to be fair, sporty SUVs are not a BMW thing: the Range Rover Evoque, Audi Q5 Sportback, and Mercedes-AMG’s range of GLC Coupé models have all taken off, each contributing toward an unlikely trend that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.
We’re having a steer of the 3.0 version to see what it’s like to have the somewhat bulky body of a mid-size SUV while shortchanging yourself on cabin space thanks to the lowered roof.
BMW X Models 2022: X4 Xdrive30I M Sport
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Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 7/10
Cost-wise, the X4 is roughly in the same ballpark as the other cars in this strange sub-segment, but when you add in optional extras - metallic paint, panorama glass sunroof and BMW Laserlight headlights among them - the base price of $95,900 plus on-road costs sneaks up to $101,800, which is is no small figure.
It’s also a considerable $8000 more than the SUV-shaped X3, meaning you’re essentially getting the same car, but with less cabin and boot space, for more money. To be fair, this is just part of a long tradition of the style-conscious buyer being willing to pay more for less, one that the invention of the coupe pretty much invented.
That kind of money also makes exclusions like adaptive cruise control, heated seats and wireless charging a bit of a head-scratcher.
20-inch M light alloy double-spoked wheels. (Image: Tom White)
Still, there’s plenty to love, including an M Sport kit that comes standard with the X4 (a suspension/brake package and various styling embellishments), butter-soft Tacora Red Vernasca leather seats (Sport adjustable for the driver and front passenger), 20-inch M light alloy double-spoked wheels, a head-up display, adaptive LED headlights, and an automatic tailgate.
There’s also a generous high-resolution 12.3-inch control display and digital 12.3-inch instrument display, the former operated by touch or via the rotary iDrive Touch Controller.
Cable-free Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also available, but BMW allows you the option to use its iDrive system instead, just in case you're some kind of mad Munich fanboy - or you hate Apple.
There’s a generous high-resolution 12.3-inch control display and digital 12.3-inch instrument display, (Image: Tom White)
Is there anything interesting about its design? 9/10
So here's the thing. Obviously I have a personal beef with the existence of vehicles like this, but my eyes cannot deny the facts - the X4 looks fantastic. It's muscular, imposing and smooth all at once. Unlike the X6, a bigger and less visually successful attempt to play the same styling tricks with an X5, it doesn't have a ridiculous rear view that looks like it shoulders and buttocks have been fused (although it's hard to miss just how small the rear window is).
Even more impressively, there's no denying it looks better than the X3 that gave birth to it, so I can easily see why someone in a BMW showroom could be drawn to it. At least until they sit inside.
The X4 looks fantastic. It's muscular, imposing and smooth all at once. (Image: Tom White)
If the exterior style and eye-catching Sophisto Grey metallic paint don’t make an immediate impression then your eyes will surely widen at the interior, resplendent with bold Tacora Red seats, Aluminium Rhombicle trim finisher and the kind of sleek, classy styling that BMW excels in.
Both the adjustable ambient lighting on the doors (we were partial to lilac) and door projectors that shot out what looked like robot wings onto the ground every time we hopped out of the X4 at night walked a fine line between futuristic cool and “parked out the front of a nightclub entrance” chintz, but over time the scales tipped more to the former.
The big differentiator between the X4 and X3, of course, is the sloped coupé roof, a design feature that may make the X4 look a little cooler, but at the expense of cabin space, but more of that in a moment.
How practical is the space inside? 7/10
For a car that is very much a mid-sized SUV on the outside, the interior can feel a bit too snug, like you’re driving a compact car that’s tried on a suit a few sizes too big (for reference, I’m 175cm tall - above-average height drivers may find the snugness soon turns to claustrophobia).
While comfortable - it is BMW we’re talking about, after all - there’s not an overly abundant amount of headroom available, a feeling that becomes more pronounced should you shut the big moon roof.
2022 BMW x4 I Seats
2022 BMW x4 I Seats
My two children felt slightly too close to “you’re annoying me” distance from one another, which is to say this isn’t really the kind of car you should be getting if you plan on regularly ferrying about passengers in the rear who are bigger than a child. But I really don't think many people with kids would choose the X4 over the X3.
Boot space also takes a hit when compared to the X3 (550 litres versus 525-litres in the X4 - I was surprised the difference wasn't larger - although that expands to 1430-litres with the rear seats folded down.
The boot opening is also mouth-shaped, which makes packing in wide-load items more of an issue.
Boot space is 525-litres in the X4, expands to 1430-litres with the rear seats folded down. (Image: Tom White)
Cupholders are plentiful - two in the front, two in the rear, and bottle holders in each door - and there’s a decent-sized storage cubby in between the front two seats.
The sloped roof, and big fat A pillars, also result in the X4 being a bit more pinched at the rear, which is not especially great for visibility, with the vehicle’s blind spots taking some getting used to.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission? 8/10
Now, prepare to be confused. In the past, the 3.0 in the xDrive3.0i nomenclature might have led you to believe you'd bought a BMW with a 3.0-litre straight six engine. But in this case, you have not, the 3.0 just means you have a more exciting version of the 2.0; a TwinPower turbo 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder engine, making 179kW and 353Nm that the xDrive system delivers to all four wheels.
The turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine makes 179kW/353Nm. (Image: Tom White)
The claimed zero to 100km/h time of 4.9 seconds feels completely realistic as this engine has plenty of poke. Put it in the Sport setting and you'll get some serious shove. Indeed, the switch between Comfort and Sport is very noticeable and changes the character of the car entirely.
The transmission is an eight-speed conventional torque converter automatic gearbox that’s both smooth and responsive.
How much fuel does it consume? 7/10
The X4’s 65-litre tank needs to be 95-octane at a minimum, and BMW’s claimed combined fuel consumption is 7.9 litres per 100km. The temptation to use its rorty little engine is going to push you higher, though - you chose the one with the 3.0 badge on it after all - and we averaged 10.9 litres per 100km in our week together, which was mainly city driving, to be fair.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating? 8/10
A 2018 test gave the X4 a five-star ANCAP safety rating, and an easily located button on the dash brings up the vehicle’s safety suite if you’re the kind of driver who likes to make a few adjustments.
A 360-degree camera offers multiple viewpoints and is a godsend when parking the X4, since the cabin makes the car feel smaller than it actually is on the outside, and the range of safety features on offer are more than adequate.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered? 6/10
Despite all the brouhaha about other car manufacturers offering more generous warranty periods - seven years for Kia, for example - BMW has not shifted its stance, still offering its standard three-year unlimited-kilometre warranty. Frankly, it's just not good enough.
BMW also offer a Service Inclusive package for $2010 that covers owners for five years, or 80,000km.
BMW also offer a Service Inclusive package for $2010 that covers owners for five years, or 80,000km. (Image: Tom White)
What's it like to drive? 8/10
The impressive trick that BMW continually pulls off with its SUVs is giving them the same sensual, muscular steering as its sedans, and an impressively similar ride and handling balance.
The steering is the highlight here, but it's also noticeable how planted to the road it feels.
The steering is the highlight here, but it's also noticeable how planted to the road it feels. (Image: Tom White)
The X4 speaks to its looks, in fact, by feeling sportier and more alive to drive than you'd expect an X3 to be.
This is less an SUV for soccer mums and dads, and more a bastard love-child that’s into loud leather and bright neon - a CEO who dressed punk rock-lite on weekends, if you will.
If those weekends are bereft of child taxiing and loading up the boot with several tons of kid stuff, then you’ll have a blast in the X4.
The impressive trick that BMW continually pulls off with its SUVs is giving them the same sensual, muscular steering as its sedans, and an impressively similar ride and handling balance. (Image: Tom White)
Okay, so the BMW X4 xDrive30i is neither an ass nor an elbow, to be fair, it's more of a bulky shoulder muscle, or two.
I can't say I'll ever love the X4, the idea of it is a bit too weird for me, but I can't help admiring the way it looks and the way it drives.
It's a bit like a sedan on steroids - or an SUV on a diet, depending on your perspective - but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s fun to drive, comfortable and retains just enough coolness, and just enough practicality, to make it worthwhile.
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