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BMW X4 20d 2019 review

The X4 is an eye-catching car, but depending on who you ask, not always in a good way.
Dan Pugh
Marketing manager

24 Dec 2018 • 12 min read

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For the past 10 years, BMW has been answering the call of buyers looking for something unique and different with its X6 and X4. While many considered them bizarre, many more spotted the appeal - and even the beauty - in a coupe-designed SUV. Who knew?  

So for my weekend test, I‘m driving the next-generation X4 iDrive20d 2019. Priced at $79,900, it sits above the cheaper xDrive20i ($76,900) and below the xDrive30i ($83,900). 

For the price, BMW includes a heap of standard kit (which I’ll cover later), along with a hefty list of optional extras to choose from. My test car had plenty of them - $12,250 worth to be exact - including the Innovations Package ($2200), metallic paint ($1950), and 20-inch alloy wheels ($1700), pushing the final price to $92,150. 

So, how will this SUV (without the utility) handle hauling myself and three kids around the suburbs for the weekend? Let's find out.

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Saturday

With no sport, dance tutorials, play-dates or birthday parties scheduled, I decided to take the kids away on a trip to Wolgan Valley for the night. Situated on the other side of the Blue Mountains, it’s about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Sydney. 

The kid’s excitement of going away was only slightly tempered at the thought of spending more than two hours in the car. Given the X4 xDrive20d was their chariot, I had little sympathy for them.

Wolgan Valley, Blue Mountains. Wolgan Valley, Blue Mountains.

The X4 is an eye-catching car, but depending on who you ask, not always in a good way. Bending the boundaries of SUV convention (and, some might argue, taste) seems to have paid off handsomely for BMW, with the X4 finding plenty of favour with buyers.  

This second-generation X4 has been the recipient of some big changes, including a much improved design and a noticeable increase in size over the 2014 model. At 4752mm end-to-end, the length has grown by 81mm, and it’s 37mm wider at 1918mm, but 3mm shorter in height at 1621mm. 

The completely redesigned X4 has been given a sleeker profile, with the removal of the camel-like roof line of the previous generation. Up front, the headlights have been redesigned, but they're overshadowed by the ridiculously large kidney grille with the structural supports visible behind it. The back-end has also been given a makeover, with redesigned tail lights resembling thin blade-like units. 

  • The much improved design has a noticeable increase in size over the 2014 model. The much improved design has a noticeable increase in size over the 2014 model.
  • The back-end has also been given a makeover, with redesigned tail lights resembling thin blade-like units. The back-end has also been given a makeover, with redesigned tail lights resembling thin blade-like units.
  • Up front, the headlights have been redesigned. Up front, the headlights have been redesigned.
  • The headlights are overshadowed by the ridiculously large kidney grille with the structural supports visible behind it. The headlights are overshadowed by the ridiculously large kidney grille with the structural supports visible behind it.

We hopped inside to discover a sharp-looking cabin with an impressive premium feel. It retains the familiar BMW layout, but with fresher modern styling, nice design touches and numerous textured materials used throughout.

The electronically adjustable drivers' seat draped in Tacora Red Vernasca leather (a $2500 option) looks the part and offers plenty of comfort and support. The rear seats provide plenty of room for the kids to spread out in, too, with creature comforts including two cupholders in the centre armrest, bottle holders in the doors and air vents with temperature controls.

At 180cm tall, I can sit behind my driving position with more than a hand-width of space between my knees and the seat in front. Taller adults may find headroom a little compromised back there, though, particularly with the panoramic sunroof (a $3000 option) our test car came with. 

  • The electronically adjustable drivers' seat draped in Tacora Red Vernasca leather (a $2500 option) looks the part and offers plenty of comfort and support. The electronically adjustable drivers' seat draped in Tacora Red Vernasca leather (a $2500 option) looks the part and offers plenty of comfort and support.
  • The X4 has a 10.25-inch touchscreen with access to sat nav (standard) and Apple CarPlay (a $623 option). The X4 has a 10.25-inch touchscreen with access to sat nav (standard) and Apple CarPlay (a $623 option).
  • The X4 retains the familiar BMW layout, but with fresher modern styling, nice design touches and numerous textured materials used throughout. The X4 retains the familiar BMW layout, but with fresher modern styling, nice design touches and numerous textured materials used throughout.
  • The rear seats provide plenty of room for the kids to spread out in, too, with creature comforts including air vents with temperature controls. The rear seats provide plenty of room for the kids to spread out in, too, with creature comforts including air vents with temperature controls.

My son in the front seat synced up the smartphone to the large 10.25-inch touchscreen and quickly had the playlist blasting through the six-speaker stereo. Access to the sat nav (standard) and Apple CarPlay (a $623 option) is also easy, though BMW does not offer Android Auto

Our two-hour-plus trip was largely uneventful, with the combination of winding country back roads and boring motorways a worthy testing ground for the car's ride and handling. The M-Sport suspension did an excellent job of keeping the car in check over the various road surfaces, bends and undulations - all the more impressive given we were riding on 20-inch alloy wheels (a $1700 option) and with the car set in Sport mode for majority of the trip.  

Upon arrival at the property, the X4’s 204mm ground clearance was tested on the long and bumpy dirt track leading up to the cabin. Thankfully, it passed over over all lumps and bumps without issue. 

Sunday

After a lazy morning spent exploring the local surrounds (with a bit of kangaroo spotting thrown in) we headed back to Sydney. 

The xDrive20d has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel which produces just 140kW, but an impressive 400Nm of torque, and which directs power to all four wheels via an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission. The grunt helps propel the X4 from 0-100km/h in 8.0sec.

Around the country back roads the X4 was actually quite fun to drive, too. Around the country back roads the X4 was actually quite fun to drive, too.

Along the open roads, the X4 had sufficient power to dispatch cars in slower lanes with little fanfare. The level of refinement was top-notch, too, with the diesel engine rarely making its presence felt in the cabin on back roads while virtually silent on the motorway. 

The gearbox was seriously good, with buttery smooth shifts between gears that were both intuitive and, at times, barely noticeable. It was as impressive at low speeds as it was on the motorway. 

Around the country back roads the X4 was actually quite fun to drive, too. The thick-rimmed M-Sport steering wheel has some weight to it and provided plenty of responsiveness when navigating the bends. What’s more, for an SUV it’s fairly composed around corners, proving quick to turn in with minimal body roll. 

Parking the X4 on suburban streets and in the local Woolies' car park was a reasonably straightforward affair, thanks to its reversing camera and parking sensors. It did, however, highlight the car's poor visibility out the side and rear windows.

  • The thick-rimmed M-Sport steering wheel has some weight to it and provided plenty of responsiveness when navigating the bends. The thick-rimmed M-Sport steering wheel has some weight to it and provided plenty of responsiveness when navigating the bends.
  • At 535 litres, the boot space sounds good, however the sloped roof line compromises the amount of useful space available. At 535 litres, the boot space sounds good, however the sloped roof line compromises the amount of useful space available.
  • There is the option to fold down the 40/20/40 split rear seats, allowing a decent 1430 litres of space. There is the option to fold down the 40/20/40 split rear seats, allowing a decent 1430 litres of space.

The large B and C pillars coupled with a slim rear window made navigating the X4 into tight spaces a challenge. Reverse AEB and rear cross-traffic alert would be useful additions in helping solve this problem, but they are not available. More on safety later.  

Another little grumble is the boot space, which at 535 litres sounds good, however the sloped roof line compromises the amount of useful space available and makes the job of carting kids bikes or scooters much trickier than in an X3. There is the option to fold down the 40/20/40 split rear seats (allowing a decent 1430 litres of space). but would have left my two kids in the back a little short on passenger space. 

The new-generation X4 has a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating and comes with an armada of airbags, including driver and front passenger, head and side airbags with seat occupancy detection for driver and passenger side, and a driver’s knee airbag. 

Lane departure warning and auto parking are standard, as well as AEB, however in the xDrive20d it’s a city version which only operates at lower speeds. Unfortunately, it misses out adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistance. 

For parents with young children there are two ISOFIX mounts in the back row, along with three top-tether anchor points. The xDrive20d comes with run-flat tyres rather than a spare.

The M-Sport suspension did an excellent job of keeping the car in check over the various road surfaces, bends and undulations. The M-Sport suspension did an excellent job of keeping the car in check over the various road surfaces, bends and undulations.

We covered over 600km across the two days of open road and suburban driving, with the trip computer displaying a fuel consumption reading of 6.3L/100km. Slightly higher than the official combined figure of 5.8L/100km, but I can live with it. 


The Wrap

As coupe-like SUVs go, the X4 iDrive20d 2019 is nicely proportioned and it happily delivered more M-Sport performance than I had expected. A thoroughly enjoyable drive that bordered on fun on the open road, but that was still comfortable around the 'burbs. For something a little different, the X4 is worth a look. 

Likes

Fun to drive on winding country roads
Plenty of cabin space
Unique styling

Dislikes

Lack of usable boot space
Poor rear and side visibility from driver's seat
Expensive options list

Scores

Dan:

3.7

The Kids:

$79,900

Based on new car retail price

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