TESTED 7.6.18, USA ON SALE JULY PRICE £55,315
This more sporting take on the X3 offers pleasing performance, albeit at a cost
BMW has launched a second-generation X4 just four years after the first model reached showrooms. The decision, which was forced in part by a need to link it with the model cycle strategy of the mechanically similar X3 to meet production line efficiencies, gives BMW the advantage of having the most contemporary offering in a lucrative market segment.
The new X4 model tested here, the £55,315 M40d M Performance, is the initial flagship of the new line-up. Running the latest evolution of BMW’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre diesel engine, it serves up 326bhp at 4400rpm and 501lb ft between 1750 and 2750rpm. The longitudinally mounted inline six-cylinder is mated to a standard eight-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox and, like all new X4 models, a fully variable four-wheel-drive system.
Despite its 1895kg kerb weight, both step off and in-gear acceleration are particularly strong, though it is the hushed constant throttle operation and effortless cruising qualities in taller gears at typical motorway speeds that impressed us most about this top-of-the-line X4. Its gearbox is also terrifically smooth and quick to engage, both on upshifts and downshifts.
The 2018 model is larger than before; length is up by 81mm at 4752mm, width has increased by 37mm at 1918mm, height is reduced by 3mm at 1621mm due to lower ground clearance, and the wheelbase has been extended by 54mm at 2864mm. The fundamentals are excellent; the driving position is lower and more sporting than that of the X3, the controls are logically laid out and while visibility to the rear is restricted by the tapered design of the roof, it is supported by highly precise sensors with both acoustic and visual warning as standard.
Accommodation up front is on par with that of the X3, so there’s plenty of head and shoulder room. In the rear, the seats are mounted quite low, but there’s noticeably more leg and head room than in the old X4. The automatically operated tailgate opens to reveal a wide but relatively high mounted luggage compartment. It has 25 litres more than before with a nominal capacity of 525 litres, or 1430 litres when the 40/20/40 split rear seats are folded flat.
The new X4 is a more engaging and rounded car than its predecessor, be it tooling around town or pushing along on the open road. The adoption of BMW’s CLAR (cluster architecture) platform, and with it a thoroughly re-engineered front end featuring a new double wishbone suspension and claimed 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution, has brought greater levels of response to the steering, improved body control and a far more settled feel to its ride.
These improved on-road characteristics combine with the traction provided by the X4’s reconfigured four-wheel-drive system, which uses a planetary gearset incorporated within the rear axle to juggle drive between each individual rear wheel in the M40d, to provide it with outstanding handling. For such a heavy and high riding car, it can be coaxed to carry high speeds through corners without any undue tyre squealing drama.
The BMW X4 is an impressive all-rounder with an endearingly sporting touch. It offers responsive car-like dynamics, impressive mechanical refinement, class-competitive perceived quality and a good deal of space, if not the ultimate versatility and everyday ease of use delivered by the more upright X3.
The M40d, while seemingly expensive next to its lesser engine siblings, is the clear choice for enthusiast drivers, even if the sweet spot in the range might come further down the new X4 line-up.
As befits the X4’s more sporting positioning compared with the X3, it gets its own individual springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. The result: sharper response and more agile traits. GK
Engine 6 cyls in line, 2993cc, twin-turbocharged, diesel
Power 326bhp at 4400rpm
Torque 501lb ft at 1750-2750rpm
Gearbox 8-spd automatic
Kerb weight 1895kg
Top speed 155mph (limited)
CO2, tax band 173g/km, 37%
Rivals Porsche Macan, Mercedes GLC, Range Rover Evoque