2015 BMW X4 xDrive
BMW creates new sporty crossover with 2015 X4 xDrive Prices: $44,700-$48,000
Many young up-and-coming white-collar workers snapped up a BMW 3-Series model some years ago and thus made the car a rather common model with a somewhat comical "yuppie" reputation. Their older bosses drove a more sober Mercedes.
Virtually all BMW models now are popular. The automaker has retained its decades-old sporty, youthful reputation and offers a much broader lineup that helped it outsell Mercedes to folks of all ages in 2014.
The latest new BMW--the X4 crossover vehicle--promises to provide BMW with higher sales, despite far more competition the old 3-Series faced.
The X4 comes as the $44,700 xDrive28i model with a 240 turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder engine or as the more muscular $48,000 xDrive35i with a 300-horsepower turbocharged inline 6-cylinder with appreciably more torque.
I walked away impressed after testing the X4 xDrive35i, although it had a few obvious drawbacks.
I'm glad my test X4 had the turbo "six." Few automakers over the years have been able to match BMW when it comes to smooth, potent inline 6-cylinder engines. Adding a turbocharger just icing on the cake.
The only X4 transmission is an 8-speed automatic, which shifts seamlessly and can be quickly manually shifted with either steering wheel shift paddles or a console shifter. A drawback of the shifter, however, is that it partly blocks driver access to the twin console cupholders.
Both models have standard all-wheel drive with a torque-vectoring design for added stability.
The four-door X4 is essentially a sportier coupe-style hatchback version of the BMW X3. It shares the X3-chassis, 111-inch wheelbase, hood and dashboard, but has distinctive features. They include a roofline lowered by 2.2 inches and flared rear fenders.
BMW calls the X4 a 5-passenger vehicle, but the stiff center of the backseat is best left to a large fold-down armrest, which contains cupholders.
Sacrificing practicality for sportiness causes the lowered roof to cause the rear seats to be set considerably low and the "shoebox" rear window to be quite small. A driver thus should keep a watch on the large outside rearview mirrors. Still, I found also was a good idea to glance over my right shoulder when changing lanes to the right.
Front occupants sit high, although it calls for a little extra effort to slide into the X4. The large cargo area has a wide, but somewhat high opening. Seatbacks flip forward to provide an impressively spacious cargo area.
The X4's cabin is quiet and decidedly upscale. Gauges can be quickly read and, although most dashboard controls are small, they're clearly marked.
There are a decent number of storage areas, including a console bin with a cover and deep pockets in all doors. The hatch floor has a removable cover that hides a fairly large, although shallow, storage area.
The X4 xDrive3.5i does 0-60 m.p.h. in 5.2 seconds and has a strong 65-80 m.p.h. passing time despite weighing approximately 4,300 pounds. The X4 xDrive2.8i can't match that performance, but has lively enough acceleration, with a 0-60 m.p.h. time of 6.1 seconds.
I'd opt for the turbo 6-cylinder because, after all, this sporty crosssover deserves it. Even estimated fuel economy is approximately the same between the two engines: 21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 on highways with the 4-cylinder and 19 and 27 with the "six."
The well-equipped X4's standard features include an AM/FM/CD/MP3 player audio system with HD radio, multi-function sport steering wheel, a 2-way power glass moonroof, cruise control and a power tailgate that opens and closes automatically. There also are a good number of safety and security features.
Options can quickly inflate the price, although the $700 Driver Assistance package is especially handy with its rearview camera and park distance control. And it might be hard to pass up the $2,200 Premium Package, which has items including power and heated front seats and automatic climate control.
My test car was equipped with the $1,900 M Sport package, which contains a sport suspension, 19-inch wheels, front sport seats that provide excellent grip and an aerodynamic kit.
My test X4's firm steering was fast and accurate, handling was exceptional for a crossover and the brake pedal had a reassuring feel. The all-disc brake setup has Dynamic Control for surer stops. The ride was supple, although the 19-inch wheels caused it to be jiggly on some roads.
The hood raises smoothly on twin struts to reveal a surgically neat engine compartment.
The X4 carries on BMW's tradition of making sporty cars, and this one adds a good dose of practicality.