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In-depth reviews

BMW X4 (2014-2018) review

The BMW X4 is a downsized version of the divisive X6 coupe-SUV taking aim at the Porsche Macan and Range Rover Evoque

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

  • Good to drive, high-quality materials throughout, decent equipment spec
  • Compromised ride, lack of practicality, no petrol engines

The BMW X4 is similar in concept to the larger X6, in that it mixes SUV proportions with a coupe roof line. It’s based on the X3, which is BMW’s mid-sized 4x4 and a range of powerful diesel engines – along with the company’s usual hallmarks of sharp handling and strong performance, which makes it good to drive.

However, don’t let the SUV size and four-wheel drive fool you into thinking it’s a proper off-roader. The X4 is much more at home on the road, although it's no sports car for handling, and while the coupe body is stylish, the sloping roof line takes a bite out of practicality. And despite this loss of practicality over the X3, it's more expensive to buy.

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The coupe-style SUV is the latest niche to draw the attention of car makers, although it was BMW with its X6, and now the X4 that pioneered the concept. The X4 was launched in 2014 as a sister model to the X3, albeit with a reprofiled roof for a sportier look.

The X4 is identical to the X3 under the skin, and most of the styling is similar from the nose to the base of the windscreen. From there, the X4 gets a steeper windscreen, lower roof and a hatchback-style tailgate. The rear end has different tail-lights, but that's about as far as the differences go between the the X4 and X3.

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New 2018 BMW X4

Inside, the only way you can tell you're in an X4 over an X3 is because the view out of the windows and rear-view mirror are different. Aside from the lower roof, the cabin has been carried over wholesale, and unlike the X6, which can be had with two individual rear seats, the X4 retains the X3's three-abreast seating in the back.

As the X4 is based on the same platform as the X3, it's no surprise that it has the same engines. There are only three options, and they offer varying degrees of economy and performance. The range kicks off with the 20d 2.0-litre diesel with 190bhp, then there's the 30d and 35d, which both use the same 3.0-litre straight-six with 258bhp and 313bhp respectively.

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The 2.0-litre diesel has a six-speed manual as standard and a six-speed auto is optional, while the 3.0-litre diesels come with BMW's excellent ZF-sourced eight-speed auto. All models feature xDrive four-wheel drive as standard.

There’s a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes for the smaller diesel engine, while the two 3.0-litre units are only available with BMW’s eight-speed Sport automatic transmission. All cars get the firm’s xDrive four-wheel drive system as standard. 

One difference between the X4 and X3 is that the X4 doesn't have as wide a trim range. SE trim is only available with the 20d, while xLine is offered on the 20d and 30d. Top-spec M Sport is available across the range, and the 35d is only offered in this top spec.

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• Best SUVs to buy

The basic X4 SE gets 18-inch alloys, automatic air conditioning, heated leather seats, cruise control, DAB radio, parking sensors and sat-nav fitted as standard, while xLine adds a few extra styling tweaks, sports seats and different 18-inch alloys. In 30d trim it also adds an automatic gearbox with BMW’s Driver Performance Control system.

At the top of the range, the M Sport adds 19-inch wheels, a subtly sporty Sport bodykit and sports suspension. Of course, like any BMW, you can dip heavily into the options list to tailor your car to exactly how you want it. Expect to pay plenty more on top of the purchase price if you do though.

The most obvious rival to the X4 is the Mercedes GLC Coupe. It copies the X4's design philosophy and suffers from the same problems, namely a higher price than the standard car, less practicality and not as sporty a drive as you'd imagine. If it's a sporty SUV you want, then the Porsche Macan is the go-to machine, while the Jaguar F-Pace is also pretty accomplished. Another rival is the Range Rover Evoque, which comes in a three-door coupe shape for those that want something different.

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