BMW’s X4 four-door Sport Activity Coupe is a niche vehicle made for folks who want the look of a sport coupe and the maneuverability of an SUV.
The concept seems to be a bit of a conundrum to me. If you want to haul your mountain bike to the woods wouldn’t the squared-off cargo area of an X3 be more practical than the X4’s sloping fastback? On the other hand, the X4 is 1.5 inches lower than an X3 and that gives it better road manners. The X3 and X4 have the same 110.6-inch wheelbase and are within an inch of being the same length. The X4 has two inches less rear headroom.
There are two versions. The xDrive28i with a 240-horsepower four-cylinder starts at $44,700 while the xDrive35i with a 300-horsepower six-cylinder begins at $48,000. I drove an xDrive35i from BMW’s press fleet, and it had $17,075 worth of options. I’m often startled that German companies make so many items optional.
Conundrum aside, the X4’s six-cylinder engine is such a delight. In order to meet strict European emission standards without sacrificing power, both available engines use twin-scroll turbochargers in conjunction with direct fuel injection, variable valve timing and variable camshaft control. The 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine is a model of smoothness. It delivers peak torque at low engine speeds yet it revs happily up to redline, producing maximum horsepower between 5,800 and 6,400 rpm. BMW says it can hit 60 miles per hour in 5.2 seconds. In everyday driving, low-speed torque is your friend because it makes the car respond quickly to the throttle, but if you need a surge of power on an entrance ramp the high-revving engine delivers.
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An eight-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel shift paddles is used on either engine.
The X4’s all-wheel drive system is ideal for all but the warmest climates. The xDrive stability control system directs power to the outside wheel in turns for better traction and cornering. Plus, traction is improved in slippery conditions. Dedicated winter tires would be wise in regions that have considerable snow.
The test car was equipped with the M Sport package that consists of 20-inch wheels, sport seats, M steering wheel, brushed aluminum trim and an adjustable suspension. The driver can choose Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport+ driving modes. Eco is best for the highway but I used Normal for most regular driving.
The optional active driving assistant includes lane departure warning, front collision warning, pedestrian collision warning and city braking function. The backup camera can be switched to surround view that shows the car from above, and that is most handy in tight parking spaces. Automatic parallel parking is also available as an option.
The front sport seats were excellent. Getting into the back seat requires care because the sloping roof impinges on headroom even though the rear seat sits 1.1 inches lower than an X3. The rear seat is split into three sections so it can be folded several ways depending on your cargo needs. A power tailgate is standard, and a smart opener that can be controlled by moving one’s foot under the bumper is optional.
The test vehicle’s base price was $48,000. Options included rearview camera, parking sensors, blind-spot detection, surround view, active driving assistant, full LED lights, keyless entry, satellite radio, lumbar support, navigation system, head-up display, heated front seats, Harman/Kardon stereo and enhanced Bluetooth and smartphone integration. The sticker price was $65,075.
Four years or 50,000 miles.
Tom Strongman’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
2015 BMW X4 xDrive35i
Engine: 3.0-liter, 300-horsepower six-cylinder
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 110.6 inches
Curb weight: 4,260 pounds
Base price: $48,000
As driven: $65,075
MPG rating: 19 in the city, 27 on the highway