Originally published on AutoNationDrive.com by Chris Chin, reedited for updates for 2015 republishing on egmCarTech.
The Germans like to answer questions that have never been asked–it’s actually another way of saying they just constantly like to innovate. And because automakers are locked into a relentless sales war with each other, desperate bids to become the top-selling automaker in the world have led to desperate measures with them scrambling for the next big trend, if they haven’t started it themselves.
Click here for more news on the BMW X4.
For some odd reason, achieving the title for top-selling automaker crowns you superiority, simply because we’ve evolved into a society based on numbers. Whatever happened to the virtue of quality over quantity? Those days of handbuilt goodness and limited mass production are sorely missed. Though I digress…
One of those desperate measures has led to creating market segments that just do not exist in attempts to give buyers a little bit of everything. BMW is very much guilty of this, but really, you can’t blame their intuition of just constantly asking: “what if…?”
2015 BMW X4 xDrive35i
|Body Style:||Compact Crossover SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle in BMW Jargon)|
|Seating Capacity:||Five Passengers|
|Base Price:||$44,700 (xDrive28i)|
|Price As Tested:||$61,475|
|Engine:||3.0L TwinPower Turbo N55B30 Inline-Six – 302hp and 295 lb-ft of torque|
|Transmission:||Eight-Speed ZF-Sourced STEPTRONIC Automatic|
|0-60:||5.0 seconds (estimated)|
|Top Speed:||155 mph|
|Fuel Economy (City/Highway):||N/A (Observed 16-22mpg)|
Like, “what if we made a 5-Series into an SUV,” you get an X5 “Sports Activity Vehicle.” And we see how well that’s worked for them. How about the 3-Series? Es ist kein Problem. Here’s the X3. That’s still alive and well. This has led to the cultivation of really interesting new concepts–one of them being the low-slung SUV crossover. Ok, “what if we make the X5 less practical, give it a nice suit, charge more and call it the day?” Verschleierte! You have the X6. This latest X4 is a byproduct of this cultivation, filling a gap of the compact luxury sports crossover between market segments with a healthy dollop of Bavarian creme. Establishing a market that’s based on other famous recipes is a common occurrence with the Germans so the story with the X4 is all but different. Just like the X6, “what if we took an X3 and…” well, you know the rest.
In nearly the same exact fashion as to how the X6 came to be, the X4 was birthed, first in concept form at Auto Shanghai 2013–Don’t forget, China is the world’s largest and most potential car market at the moment. If you thought we love crossovers, don’t also forget China is the most populous country in the world. Again, society of numbers. That said, take a 2015 X3, chop its rear off, rake its roofline, tweak things here and there, and throw in the towel. The result is actually something that you would call handsome. Except instead of resembling a less practical X3, it can be seen more as a 3-Series GT on stilts. Or an X6 mini-me. The profile is less boxy, more curvaceous, fulfilling the sentiments of less for more. And yet, the X4 still has all the creases and folds as other models.
The same notions of being a stylistically appointed and raised 3-Series GT carry on into the confines of the X4’s passenger cell. Because the roofline is raked like the X6, head space still exists comfortably, even in the back. It’s the trunk that loses its headroom and prevents any sort of tall objects from being stowed upright. You can put the seats down in typical 60/40 split, but just make sure it isn’t some potted foliage, unless you want a trunk full of soil. Despite the slightly extra ride height, you still sit cocooned like you’re in a 3-Series GT, making the X4 feel much sportier than the X3.
Because of the X4’s 3-Series roots, the same selection of a turbocharged four-banger or inline-six for go power are on tap with the choice of rear-wheel drive or xDrive all-wheel. The lineup starts with a 2.0L TwinPower Turbo with 240hp and 260 lb-ft of twist for the xDrive28i and the admirable 3.0L TwinPower Turbo inline-six good for 300hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. We have the latter. Both of their transaxles consist of the ubiquitous ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic.
While the X4 does have a much higher center of gravity than the 3-Series GT, the boffins at Munich did what they do best. It doesn’t feel much different than a more tightly sprung X3 to drive. The steering is decent with feel, though very accurate with good weighting and on-center feel. It’s a BMW tiller, they’re known for these things. In comparison with tillers of the past–we’re not really here to argue that. Either way, it gets the job done with plenty to brag about and will meet expectations for The Ultimate Driving Machine.
There’s not much more to the X4 except that it’s the first to establish the market for a low-slung coupe-like crossover of its size. That said, Mercedes-Benz and Audi are more likely to follow up with their own competitors as well in order to get a piece of this new compact sports crossover pie. It will undoubtedly help the German automakers continue their onslaught of new models and product updates, all to become the world’s top-selling automaker by sheer volume.
– By: Chris Chin
All Photos Copyright © C Squared Photography for AutoNation and egmCarTech.