BMW X4: The new baby beast
CAPE TOWN, South Africa - The Germans are still busy with their onslaught of a new car in each segment, even if that means creating new ones... segments, that is. The latest is another (BMW-speak for SUV).
It's just been launched to the South African motoring media and Wheels24 was there for the occasion here in Cape Town.
So what is the X4? Is it the spawn of an X6 or an X3 on steroids? Quite self-explanatory, it slots between the X3 and popular X5 as a premium mid-segment product.
BMW SA says the cars will continue the success story of the monstrous X6 which has sold more than 250 000 globally since its launch in 2008.
IMAGE GALLERY: 2014 BMW X4
I remember attending the local launch of the X6 that year and boy did I think it was ghastly. Its sheer size was overwhelming, its dimensions all out of proportion. It was a taste I never did acquire. The X4 can almost be painted with the same brush, but it's not that obtrusive once you get used to it.
Well, of the number sold internationally, 4600 were bought by people in South Africa who thought it was the bee's knees.
Safe to say the X4 is much easier on the eyes and its dimensions are a lot more comprehensible. Its biggest attraction will probably be that it’s a five-seater, unlike the four-seat X6. This one makes sense.
BMW says the X4 is a first-generation model: “There’s been nothing like it before. It has no predecessors and no competitors.” Got to agree that it’s a "unique concept with ample distinctiveness and sportiness,typical coupe elements".
The automaker told Wheels24 the car would tempt new buyers to the brand and anticipated big growth in the premium mid-segment.
UNDER THE BONNET
There are three petrol engines and two diesels from the BMW EfficientDynamics engine family to choose from in the X4 range. Each model has all-wheel drive.
• The four-cylinder 2.8i petrol unit packs 180kW/350Nm, uses 7.4 litres/100km; 172g/km CO2 emissions. It’s mated to an eight-speed Steptronic transmission and reaches 100km/h in 6.4sec.
• The two-litre uses 7.3 litres/100km; CO2 emissions combined: 171g/km. It produces 135kW from 5000–6250rpm and 270Nm from 1250-4500rpm, sprinting to 100km/h in 8.1sec.
• Rated as the flagship, the three-litre straight-six xDrive35i petrol engine has a combined fuel consumption of 8.3 litres/100km; 193g/km CO2 emissions and makes 225kW from 5800-6400rpm and 400Nm from 1200–5000rpm.
• The new-generation two-litre diesel xDrive20d 5.0 litres/100km fuel; 141g/km CO2 emissions. The four cylinder unit makes 140kW/400Nm and is mated to an eight-speed Steptronic transmission.
• The three-litre six-cylinder in-line xDrive30d fuel consumption is rated at 6.1 litres/100km; 159g/km CO2 emissions. Power outputs are 190kW from 4000rpm and 560Nm from 1500-3000rpm and reaches 100km/h in 5.8sec.
xDrive20d and xDrive20i can each be ordered with an eight-speed Steptronic transmission. The other X4 models come with the eight-speed Steptronic sport transmission - 'sport' means paddle shifts are included.
There's also the Eco Pro mode which is selected using the Driving Experience Control switch. By selecting this mode route option and the Steptronic gearbox’s coasting function, even less fuel will be consumed.
Head on, the X4 has large air intakes set on the outer corners while the apron features its signature twin headlights and fog lights (LEDs an option). The sporting coupe characteristics come from the roof line which reaches its highest point just about above the driver and then starts to slant down to the top of the tail hatch. The rear has L-shaped LED arrays and diffuser-type styling.
Thanks to the car being 36mm lower than the X3, the driver and front passenger sit 20mm lower while the rear passengers sit 28mm lower. The X4 also has a standard 40:20:40 split rear-seat backrest for extra room. Boot space is listed as 500 litres with the seats up and a whopping 1400 with them folded.
The facia looks the same as most BMW models - neat and tidy. All models come with an automated tailgate but this can be enhanced by the optional ‘smart opener’ – this means you can open the boot by simply waving a foot under the car. Each variant has the Radio Professional with iDrive Controller and central display with a touch-sensitive surface for the new iDrive Touch Controller available with the Navigation System Professional.
There’s a high-gloss black-panel look and aluminium trim strips in the wood panelling; a sports leather steering wheel, variable sport steering, performance control and rear parking sensors.
Standard features include the auto boot, 18” alloy rims, variable sport steering, park assist, performance control and xenon headlights. There are also heatable front seats and BMW Business Media package. Customers can also opt for two trim packages - either xLine or the M sport pack.
The xLine version adds exclusive 18” alloys, aluminium exterior trim, copper interior details, sport seats and leather upholstery.
The M Sport pack adds M Sport suspension and aerodynamic styling, black exterior trim and an exclusive 19” M Sport alloys, sport seats and aluminium trim.
SO HOW DOES IT DRIVE...
I started off in the xDrive35i and those saucy notes coming from the exhaust are rather delicious - a lot more so than in the other models. Driving out of Cape Town CBD to the open road is comfy as one would expect. However, once the skill-seeking Franschhoek Pass was reached you realise this isn't exactly the kind of car you would want to chuck in tight bends, albeit it is rather capable.
You see, it's still a big car and has some weight at the rear which just didn't make me very comfortable. Put it down the straight, though, and the dynamics lives up to its reputation.
On Day 2 I sampled the xDrive28i and although it wasn't as loud or assertive it held its own despite the comparative lack of power.
The cars are comfortable, the boot is big enough to fit enough equipment for the rugby club's first team practice. Surprisingly, and I can't exactly put a finger on it, but I liked this car - even when I thought I wouldn't.
It's a lot more appealing than the uber X6 and gives off more character than the X3. I'm keen to see what the sales will be like since BMW is very confident about its position in the local market... I'm still not too sure as to who will fall head over heels in love with it.
BMW X4 xDrive20i - R651 706
BMW X4 xDrive20d - R654 128
BMW X4 xDrive28i - R741 809
BMW X4 xDrive30d n- R798 975
BMW X4 xDrive35i - R808 489
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