2015 BMW X4 First Drive

Test Drives | May 23rd, 2014 by 8
2015-bmw-x4-test-drive-49

With over 260,000 X6s has already sold, and with a proven platform, X3, BMW aims to fill a niche in the premium segment that will …

With over 260,000 X6s has already sold, and with a proven platform, X3, BMW aims to fill a niche in the premium segment that will further differentiate them from its competitors.

Meet the BMW X4 Sports Activity Coupe, or the little brother of the upcoming X6, which not only previews a design language most likely seen in the second-generation X6, but also hopes to wow a new generation of BMW buyers.

So we went to Bilbao, Spain, to sample the 2015 BMW X4 xDrive35i, the highest offering in the current X4 lineup, until and if BMW will offer an X4 M. Going in our expectations were fairly low. Plain and simple yours truly expected a similar ride as the F25 BMW X3, with less space, but more looks.

2015 BMW X4 First Drive

Has the X4 proven us wrong?

COMPARISON WITH THE X3

Let’s start with a few undisputed difference from the X3 is based on, and some background information. BMW X4 is 14mm shorter, at 4671mm, than the X3, despite sharing the same 2810mm wheelbase. The rear track has a width of 1632 mm, enough to give the car that masculine look from behind. It also sits 20 mm lower than the X3, a number that might seem insignificant on paper but noticeable on curvy roads. More on that soon shortly.

2015 BMW X4 First Drive

Therefore the X4 is much more than an X3 knock-off with better looks. BMW says that only five percent passengers space is sacrificed in the X4 when compared to the X3. Its body has been tighten up by the BMW engineers and it is and feels stiffer than the midsize Sports Activity Vehicle.  BMW X4 is also fitted with a steel suspension with a five-link rear axle which has been modified to match the character of the car.

Compared to the X3, the front passengers sit lower by 20mm, and the rear passenger by 28mm.

Design wise, the BMW X4 doesn’t necessarily takes your breath away at first sight, but the fine design cues seen across the the car come to show the attention to details that emerge from under the BMW design department. It has an athletic edge without being vulgar and flashy, and it imposes respect when it approaches you.

2015 BMW X4 First Drive

The X4 features a sweeping roofline and coupe-like features that stand out from the A-pillar onward. In the back, it loses the more flat look of the X3 and opts for a small spoiler that not only helps with downforce, but it improves visually the X4.

Inside, the X4 is nearly identical to the X3′s, and offers similar trim and leather options, made out of high-quality materials. The front seats are BMW-like, wrapping around your body and offering plenty of back support even in the most devilish curves. As expected, rear seating suffers a bit from lack of space, considering the smaller dimensions and the sweeping roof, reduced leg support was not a surprise to anyone. BMW says the X4 is a car for five people, but four is more what they aim to comfortably carry them around.

2015 BMW X4 First Drive

There’s a more than decent trunk capacity as well, including 500 liters of capacity when the 40:20:40 rear seat is in its normal position and 1400 liters when it is down flat.

The M Sport Package that was fitted to the X4 xDrive35i is exactly what we have seen in the past on other models: large air intakes, more aggressive and massive look, and a well worth it extra expense.

2015 BMW X4 First Drive

HOW DOES IT DRIVE?

After a day with the new BMW 428i Gran Coupe model, the X4 was a nice switch from the low seating 4 Series model and again the expectations were more aligned with the X3′s drive and feel. But the 2015 BMW X4 xDrive35i manages to prove us wrong. Due to the body stiffness and the “Performance Control” feature which distributes power seamlessly between the rear wheels, the X4 began early on in our 350 km trip to impress us.

2015 BMW X4 First Drive

Under the hood, we have the staple engine in the current BMW lineup: 3.0-liter inline-six turbocharged, single scroll. It produces 300 horsepower from 5800 to 6400 rpm and 300 lb-ft of torque from 1200 to 5000, and official figures say the xDrive35i is capable of running to 60 mph in about 5.4 seconds.

As always, we kick off the drive in Comfort mode, a driving setting that is meant to cater to the less spirited drivers. The X4′s chassis behave as expected, less firm and more accommodating, perfect for a calm cruise on straight roads or curvy back roads.

2015 BMW X4 First Drive

But to really see what the X4 is made of, Sport or Sport+ is the world where you want to live in. A couple of touches on the button and we can instantly feel the steering become stiffer, the body flexes its muscles and the engine roar is louder.

Now we are ready to conquer the amazing roads around Bilbao, with the most corners we have seen in a while and virtually no traffic at all. One couldn’t ask for a better scenario.

Moving over to M mode by taping the ZF 8-speed transmission, we are taking over the shifting by using the often praised steering wheel-mounted paddles. Up and down shifting warms up the “boxer” a bit getting it ready for our first 180 km of spirited driving. And by saying this we are really downplaying what the “baby-SAC” went through. Think along the lines of Chris Harris’ famous: NO DRIFTING!

2015 BMW X4 First Drive

Did we forgot to say how much we loved the thick-rimmed and heavy steering wheel?

BMW has come a long way with their electromechanical power-steering system, and it is as good as it can get right now. It is precise, responsive and progressive, and any driver can only fall in love with those three characteristics.

Thanks to the M Sport Package, we ran on 19-inch wheels, complete with 275/40 R19 rear tires and 245/45 R19 fronts. This setup gave us the confidence on the road, and the fairly heavy and chunky X4 (1815 kgs plus and minus some due to the options) handled better than the 4 Series Gran Coupe we sampled the day before. Shocking in a way, but the X4 has more verve and less body roll, while sitting taller.

2015 BMW X4 First Drive

In a nutshell, BMW X4 handled everything we threw at it, from tight corners to back-to-back twisties, to long straights, sudden direction changes and heavy braking, the X4 delivered effortlessly the maneuverability of a compact car.

The handling package is sharp, barely any body roll, and we wonder how the Porsche Macan would stack up against it.

180 kilometers later, 20 liter per 100 km, and we were sold on it. The BMW X4 might become more than just a niche player for Munich and actually surpass the sales of the X6.

2015 BMW X4 First Drive

SHOULD I BUY THIS CAR?

Porsche Macan, Range Rover Evoque and Acura RDX are the current players in this segment. All of those three cars have something going for them, so the choice can be tough, but the 2015 BMW X4 deserves more than just a first look. Jump behind the wheel, tell your sales person to buckle up and go for a longer ride, in the end, he or she might not even have to do the sale, the car will do it by itself.

BMW X4 comes with three configurations, base, xLine and M Sport. In the U.S., the entry level BMW X4 xDrive28i starts at $44,700 and the xDrive35i sells for $48,000. In Europe customers have more options, including four and six-cylinder diesels.

 

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  • Freepat 75014

    Seams really superb, and still a possible option for my next car, despite no PHEV model was announced so far ! I could not see it for real yet, to feel the impression it makes versus “dominant” X6 astonishing look that really appeals to me, but that is too expensive.
    The BMW concession I visited last week near Paris La Defense said they would only get their X4 demo models sometime in June. I did several configurators with 3.0D and 3.5D models, checked with their Rep as they have a better configurator on an iPad, that for example allows to add Wooden Inserts not offered on current BMW X4 WEB configurator). It ended a lot more expensive than I was expecting. Adding the minimum comfort options on top of base models (Innovation Pack, Xeon pack, Metal paint, electric transparent roof, electric front seats,…) I’m ending between €65K and €75K w/o the (local) Ecological Malus tax that comes on top. And the Sales Rep told me that new orders placed now could only be delivered in December 2014, and I should expect between zero % and a very low single digit Rebate on that model for this year… I then went to a Porsche concession, and could see the wonderful Macan Model Diesel S, w/ 6 cylinders that stroke me. All S models start # €60K and end # €76K configured in a comparable way to my X4 above. Rep also told me to expect only marginal single digits discount and a March 2015 delivery for a new order placed now, …. plus they admitted a PHEV model was expected for next year but the Sales Rep. could not say when announced exactly, what will be the size of its battery (>12KWH ? or better >25KWH ?, or far lower again at meaningless sizes not allowing my average 65KM local commutes done in “all Electric mode” with no more than one charge per 24h ?), nor if it will be positioned as a “mainstream PHEV” model this time (= Based on 4 x cylinder, hopefully allowing a price near same €60K starting price as Macan S and Diesel S, hence same final €76K configured – I know I may be dreaming -) or again positioned at the top of the range, above Turbo S model, with 6 x cylinders Turbo, hence priced well > €100K as for the new Panamera PHEV and likely the next Cayenne PHEV expected announced this fall on same Top Range basis….Means out of my budget and end of the story for me….
    Bottom line, I’ll wait another few months and see what both, plus Audi, will announce at the Paris Mondial de L’Automobile in October. I still favour a PHEV SUV fefore all other models, as I expect only Plug-In SUVs to be able to drive in Paris core center in the coming years, and if Audi was announcing as a real model then, and within my increased €76K total budget, their “almost perfect” TT OffRoad PHEV concept presented at China Motor show last month (12KWH Battery, 4 x cylinders,…) it could become my favorite option, as BMW already confirmed the wrong sizing of X5 eDrive battery, and my hopes on Macan PHEV set in my budget are <5% odds….

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