By Aaron Bragman on March 6, 2014
Competes with: Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, Porsche Macan, Audi SQ5
Looks like: A smaller BMW X6
Powertrains: 240-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder or 300-hp, turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder, eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Spring 2014
MSRP: X4 xDrive28i, $45,625, including a destination fee; X4 xDrive35i, $48,925
In its never-ending quest to create as many different models on common platforms as it possibly can, BMW has now announced its latest creation: the X4 Sports Activity Coupe. Just as the X6 is a low-roofline, butched-up, sporty version of the X5 SUV, so is the X4 a similar relation to the X3 SUV. With the highest point in the roof situated over the front seats, the X4 is not meant to be a cargo hauler or an off-roader but more of a style statement like the X6.
Built off the same platform as the 3 Series and X3, the X4's styling is easily recognizable as BMW. It almost appears as if someone merely created a scaled-down X6, and from pictures alone, you'll be hard pressed to tell which is which. The overall silhouette is the same, but styling details differ. The X4 features a front end that resembles the 3 and 4 Series models, with larger air intake openings and slightly different headlights. Wheel sizes are a choice of 19- or 20-inch models, depending on option packages. The side is more sculpted than in the 3 Series, but the rear end isn't terribly different than any of BMW's other SUV models. It is simply yet another variant of BMW's increasingly ubiquitous styling in which nearly every model looks like every other in the lineup. If you like the look, this creates lots of great choices.
The interior is nearly identical to the 2015 BMW X3, which is not a bad thing. BMW interiors are stylish and feature high-quality materials. The big difference from the X3 comes in seating position, rear seat headroom and cargo capacity.
The entire body sits 1.5 inches lower than the X3, and occupants sit lower as well — 0.8 inches up front and 1.1 inches in back, which are meant to evoke the idea of riding in a sports coupe. Cargo capacity is different from the X3 — 17.7 cubic feet behind the second row in the X4, compared to 27.6 cubic feet for the X3. This improves to 49.4 cubic feet in the X4 with the seats folded, but it still falls well below the X3's 63.3 cubic feet of total cargo volume.
All X4 models get BMW iDrive as well, and when equipped with the optional navigation system, it will receive the new touchpad controller that allows for usage of a finger to write out text letter by letter. Interior color choices are numerous, with two optional design packages (M Sport and xLine) that allow for greater customization and color variation for interior and exterior trim. All X4 models get a standard power tailgate, leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift paddles for the transmission, variable sport steering and rear parking sensors.
The X4 is not about hauling people or cargo; it's about hauling something else. This is the sportier sibling to the more utilitarian X3, and it shows up in the equipment list. Standard on the X4 xDrive28i is the 240 horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder found across the 3 Series-based lineup. It is mated to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission and sends power to all four wheels — all-wheel drive is standard. It propels the X4 from zero-to-60-mph in just 6 seconds flat, but if more power is your thing, step up to the X4 xDrive35i with its 300 hp, turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six cylinder engine, which will jet the X4 to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds. Both engines feature BMW's Eco Pro mode that's engaged through the driving dynamics control switch in the cabin. Eco Pro changes the engine's performance to favor fuel efficiency over speed and responsiveness. Both engines also feature stop-start technology that shuts down the engine instead of letting it idle when the vehicle is stopped.
The latest safety systems will be offered in the X4, just as in the rest of the X lineup. From active cruise control with a stop-and-go automatic braking function to a pedestrian detection system that will also automatically stop the car, the X4 will be sophisticated in its electronic gear.
Automatic parallel parking, blind spot warning, a backup camera, a bird's-eye monitor for seeing objects surrounding the X4 and more will be offered. BMW ConnectedDrive service will be offered, linking the car to a monitoring concierge center, and BMW Assist eCall and Teleservice are standard with free subscriptions for a decade.
The X4 xDrive28i will start with a sticker price of $45,625 including a destination fee, while the more powerful X4 xDrive35i will begin at $48,925. The car is set to make its public debut at the 2014 New York International Auto Show in April, with sales beginning soon after.
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Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman grew up in the Detroit area, comes from an automotive family and is based in Ann Arbor, Mich. Email Aaron