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BMW shrinks X factor to the 4

12:52 15 October 2014

BMW X4 is based on the X3 platform but styled to look like a smaller X6.

BMW X4 is based on the X3 platform but styled to look like a smaller X6.

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Styled to look like the X6 and yet sized in line with the X3, the X4 poses serious problems for competitor companies, writes Matt Kimberley.

BMW’s X4 is a new model with new customers in sight, but it borrows its undergarments from the X3 and swipes its top layers straight out of the X6’s wardrobe.

It is, effectively, a mini-X6, blending the X3’s size and raised ride height with the X6’s coupe-like sloping roof line and greater bias towards style.

Looks and image

BMW X4 xDrive30d M Sport

Price: from £46,395

Engine: 3.0-litre diesel unit producing 255bhp and 413lb/ft of torque

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic driving all four wheels

Performance: 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds, top speed 145mph

MPG: 47.9 combined (varies with wheel size)

CO2 emissions: 159g/km (varies with wheel size)

The reaction to this car will probably be similar to the one the X6 was subjected to – say some people will be totally turned off while others will be dashing post-haste to their nearest BMW dealer to buy one.

Like it or loathe it, the X4 is certainly sleeker and sportier-looking than the X3, and since it has the same new front features as the facelifted X3, it’s a lot prettier than it could have been. Its proportions are well balanced, and its muscular flanks make it look even bigger and more imposing than it is.

Space and practicality

This is where the X4 makes sacrifices in the name of style. The front seats seem to have all the headroom above them that you could ever need, and the big, plush seats are all-day comfy. The outer back seats are almost as restful, but there’s 44mm less headroom to play with.

The boot has lost 50 litres of space compared to the X3, too, despite the X4 being a tiny bit longer. It’s still a broad space, but you do have to lift bags up quite high to get them over the load sill.

Behind the wheel

Unfortunately, the X4 gets nowhere near repeating the dynamic miracles that the X6 pulls off – the X3 chassis beneath it is just too inert, the car’s weight is too obvious and the steering is lifeless. But don’t despair, – it’s extremely comfortable, quiet and easy to drive, and you’re surrounded by a very nice interior.

BMW thinks most buyers will go for the X4 30d model, with its 3.0-litre straight six-cylinder turbo diesel. It has a pleasantly gruff growl to enjoy under acceleration, but I’m not so sure it’ll be the most popular against the 20d variant. The cheaper, more economical diesel should sell better in the real world, despite it being likely to struggle with the X4’s weight.

Value for money

At £3,600 more than an equivalent X3, the X4 has its ‘style tax’ firmly in place, but you do at least get extra luxuries like a powered tailgate and heated front seats.

The more salient point here is that but that actually fits into parking spaces. For those who subscribe to the extra prestige of the coupe roofline, paying the premium, and getting the extra kit, will seem like a no-brainer.

Who would buy one?

Buyers who want the looks and don’t care too much about carrying tall passengers in the back will be lining up at showrooms. The controversy doesn’t bother the typical target buyer and the decrease in size relative to the impact of the look will see X4s fly out of the showrooms faster than you can say “I’ll have mine in black, please”.

This car summed up in a single word – pumped.

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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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