THE Germans invented the product segmentation game. Not content with having small/mid/large offerings, they went on to create slightly different models, filling in every perceived gap in their product range, or completely concocting new niches. BMW’s X4 is one result of this. The X4 sits between its two conventional SUV (well, SAV in BMW-speak, meaning Sport Activity Vehicle) siblings to play an even more athletic role — that of a Sport Activity Coupe. In the M Sport trim worn by the xDrive 20d variant that’s the subject of this review, the X4 proves it’s an all-wheel drive jock.
• Despite sitting high off the pavement the X4 feels secure, leaning its body ever so minimally even during fast cornering, or when changing directions. No doubt the substantial 19-inch footwear and tuned suspension included in the M Sport package help in this regard.
• It responds to steering, throttle and braking inputs immediately, but remains a snap to drive smoothly. Credit the easy-to-modulate controls for this, as well as the feedback coming from them. Press on the controls hard and the X4 can accelerate briskly, as well as turn and stop abruptly. But be smooth and it rewards with corresponding finesse — similar to BMW’s proper coupes.
• Clatter, if at all, coming from the diesel mill under the hood is muffled at idle. At high revs engine notes entering the cabin are inoffensive, too, which is uncommon for a diesel. And, as expected from present BMW diesels, this abundance of grunt has somehow been combined with the ability to sip fuel.
• The eight-speed transmission — which sends the engine’s output to the xDrive all-wheel drive system — is as discreet. It rows through the gears sans any jerking, and is smart enough to choose which gear is best for any requirement.
• Thanks to 400Nm of torque, the X4 can speed up instantly no matter what gear the transmission happens to have chosen.
• The X4 feels solidly built; finding any part of it that squeaks or rattles or vibrates is an exercise in futility. Both outside and inside panel gaps are uniformly tight, testaments to excellent construction.
• Cabin is filled with well-crafted furniture. The leather wrapping on the heavily bolstered seats and other surfaces are pleasant to touch. The switchgear and various trim are finished in a way that these become not too shiny or slippery, but nor are these drab or rough. The graphics on the instruments and multimedia display have consistent color schemes, very legible text, and easily decipherable icons. The dashboard and door trim are lined with soft-touch material with differing textures.
• Special M interior items like the doorsill finisher, driver’s footrest, steering wheel, headliner, seat upholstery trim and various aluminum décor add sporty details, matching the body’s equally sport-oriented pieces — like the M aero kit.
• Drooping “fastback” coupe roofline cuts headroom for backseat passengers. So BMW dropped the rear seat closer to the floor, leaving passengers with very little view of the outside. Narrow greenhouse does not help one bit.
• View of the rear from the driver’s seat isn’t any good either, with the high deck and sloping rear hatch conspiring to limit rear visibility to a mere few inches. Good thing the X is fitted with reversing camera/sensors.
• Same fastback silhouette may have worked for the longer BMW X6. But the truncated proportion of X4 only makes the car look too bulky at the bottom, too swoopy on top — odd, in short.
Without doubt, the X4 is best experienced from the driver’s seat. — Brian M. Afuang
BMW X4 xDrive20d M Sport
Price: P4.640 million
Engine: 2.0-liter inline-four, diesel with twin-scroll turbocharger; 190hp @ 4,000rpm, 400Nm @ 1,750 — 2,500rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
Wheels/Tires: 19 inches, staggered size
Key features: M aerodynamics package; sport suspension; M interior package (steering wheel, aluminum door sill finisher and other trim, driver’s footrest, headliner, seat trim); BMW ConnectedDrive driver assistance systems (head-up display, front-end collision warning, pedestrian alert, lane departure/change warning, navigation, intelligent voice assistant, surround view); multimedia system; selective beam headlights; smart entry including contactless tailgate opener; active cruise control with automatic engine start/stop