BMW X4 overview
Few new-car niches are quite as divisive as the coupe-SUV, but the BMW X4 is a popular choice in the sector. The car follows a familiar formula that was originally forged by BMW's own X6 - simply put, the X4 shares its running gear with the X3 SUV, but it has a sportier look that compromises interior space, and BMW charges a premium for it.
That hasn't stopped the X4 selling well, and BMW has seen fit to update the car for the 2022 model year. The chief upgrades are the same as those for the X3, with sharper looks for the nose and tail incorporating new lights, while there's a new infotainment system inside and 48-volt mild-hybrid tech for the engines to boost fuel efficiency. The tweaks should help the X4 remain competitive against class rivals such as the Mercedes GLC Coupe, Audi Q5 Sportback, Range Rover Velar, Porsche Macan and Lexus NX, although the latter trio aren't coupe-SUVs.
Here we test a mainstay of the range, the xDrive20d in M Sport guise, which is the only trim offered on the X4 beyond the higher-powered M models.
The BMW X4 model range
Irish pricing for the BMW X4 starts at €75,844, which gets you the xDrive20d M Sport we're testing here. The only other engine option with M Sport trim is the xDrive30d, which swaps the 20d's 190hp four-cylinder twin-turbodiesel for a 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six diesel with 286hp. The price increases by around €11,000 as a result. Both models are four-wheel drive and come with BMW's eight-speed automatic gearbox.
M Sport trim is a high-spec level on other BMWs, and it emphasises the sporty character that the X4 is supposed to convey. Standard equipment includes 19-inch alloy wheels (although these do look a little lost in the car's wheelarches - it looks better on larger rims), blue-painted brake calipers, leather upholstery in a variety of colours, heated sports seats up front, climate control, adaptive LED headlights and the new-for-2022 Live Cockpit Professional infotainment system with a 12.3-inch display and navigation and online services.
If you want more than these models offer, the X4 also comes in M40i and M40d guises for €113,535 and €104,545, respectively. The M40i has a 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol straight-six that makes 360hp and is capable of 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds.
The M40d uses an uprated version of the diesel in the xDrive30d that has 340hp and can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds. Both cars add more visual aggression with 21-inch wheels, a beefier body kit and lower sports suspension. At the very top of the range is the €158,855 X4 M Competition. This uses the same engine as the M3 and M4, so has 510hp and can sprint from 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds.
To put the X4 into context, these models are between €3,200 and €4,600 more than the equivalent X3, but, as already mentioned, the X4 is not quite as roomy. There are fewer drivetrain and trim options, too, with the X3 available in less expensive xLine spec and with the availability of plug-in hybrid and full electric versions, too.
Still, that doesn't stop the X4 selling well, and BMW currently has finance offers starting from around €910 per month. However, we'd recommend you visit BMW Ireland for the latest finance offers.
The BMW X4 interior
While the X4's exterior is divisive - and is really let down by the tiny-looking 19-inch wheels - there are hardly any complaints about the interior. There's a high-quality finish, and the detailing is fantastic. Little touches, such as the 'X' motif in the doors near the hinge that is only visible with the door open, remind you that this is a premium product.
Customisable ambient lighting sets the mood in the cabin, while it's easy to get comfortable at the wheel, thanks to a wide range of (electric) seat adjustment, plus extending seat bases that really support your thighs well. Storage is good, too, with plenty of spaces on the dashboard, while the new layout has a good mix of digital and physical buttons, especially for the climate controls.
One perennial highlight of any BMW is the firm's iDrive control system. Here in the X4, the combination of 12.3-inch touchscreen display and the rotary controller on the centre console with shortcut buttons is as effective as ever, proving especially easy to use when on the move.
The major downside to the X4's cabin comes from its coupe-inspired styling. The low roof line means that accommodation in the back isn't great for a car of this size. Legroom is adequate, though the large transmission tunnel takes up space, while headroom is obviously not on a par with the X3's. At least the boot is still a decent size, at 525 litres, while the power-opening tailgate opens quickly.
The BMW X4 driving experience
A tall seating position offsets the X4's sporty profile, while a wide range of seat adjustment means most drivers can find a suitable position. Fire up the xDrive20d's 2.0-litre diesel, and while there is some rattle when cold, the unit is pretty smooth and quickly settles. It's quiet and smooth on the move, while the addition of the 48-volt hybrid system hasn't impacted the car's driveability. There's no button available to deactivate the stop-start system, but the X4 doesn't really need it in fairness, as the system restarts instantly. The only way to deactivate the system is to slot the gear lever across into Sport mode.
Unfortunately, the gearbox is a bit of a let-down. BMW's auto transmissions have been faultless for ages now, but this one isn't. During our time with the car, there were moments where It felt hesitant about whether it was going to change up or down, which took the edge off the car's overall smoothness. Also, while BMW brake pedal modulation is usually excellent, the X4's isn't, seemingly struggling to balance between the 48-volt energy recovery and the physical stopping power of the discs and pads. Overall, this makes the X4 a bit frustrating to drive at low speeds because it's tricky to be smooth, which is a shame.
As before, BMW's drive settings of Comfort, Eco Pro, Sport and Sport Individual are present. However, our car featured passive dampers, not the optional adaptive set-up, so there was little point in tweaking it. Saying that, Sport mode did improve the responses of the transmission, which can be a bit leisurely around town and in traffic in Comfort mode.
The X4's suspension is on the firm side, but it's controlled, composed and 'mature'. The X4 is clearly capable of serious driving, although you just never feel like taking up the challenge in the xDrive20d model, courtesy of the lazy performance of the engine.
Still, that relaxed character does benefit fuel economy, especially on the motorway, where the X4 is a fine cruiser. We managed a best of around five litres/100km when on faster routes, and an average of around 7.3 litres/100km overall.
Our verdict on the BMW X4
The BMW X4 is a car that trades on its image, but in entry-level guise it can't really live up to that sense of style that you get with higher-spec models in the range. If it were our money, we'd go for one of the higher-spec M-badged models with the six-cylinder engine, be it the M40i or the full-fat X4 M Competition.
If your budget doesn't stretch that far, then save your cash and go for an equivalent X3 instead and pocket the thousands in savings while taking advantage of the extra space that car offers without sacrificing driving enjoyment. Or, even better, go for the plug-in hybrid X3 to benefit from potentially lower running costs.