2014 BMW X4 review: Less practical, more expensive BMW X3

The BMW X4 is the rakish, ‘coupe’ version of the X3 mid-sized premium SUV. It is sold in the UK in a six-strong model line-up powered entirely by diesel engines, while all examples come with xDrive four-wheel traction as standard. The X4 is designed to appeal to buyers who want the practicality and security of an SUV, with some of the visual ‘elan of a sports car thrown in, and to that end the X4 is supposed to be a sharper steer than its closely-related X3 stablemate. It competes in a class with the sportier SUVs offered by rivals, such as the Jaguar F-Pace, Porsche Macan, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe.

Did you know? BMW makes petrol X4s for other markets – including the superb M40i high-performance model, with 360hp and a sub-five-second 0-62mph time.

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If you can live with the idea of a less practical and yet more expensive version of the BMW X3, then there’s little reason to avoid the X4. Its peculiar appearance won’t win over everyone, but by the same token the sweeping roofline is the main reason that buyers who do decide to take the plunge will opt for the X4 over and above the X3 in the first place. Beyond the concept of an SUV coupe, what we have here is a classy, well-built, and comfortable four-wheel-drive vehicle that comes with plenty of desirable equipment and frugal diesel engines – although it’s a shame that there’s no petrol or hybrid option. The BMW isn’t particularly cheap, but it’s on a par with key rivals for purchase and running costs.
Technology & Connectivity
Performance & Handling
Spec & Trim Levels
Fuel Economy
We Like
Superb engines
Attractive interior
Typically impressive BMW chassis
We Don’t Like
No petrol option
Rear-seat space is compromised
Not appreciably better to drive than the X3

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There’s no point debating the looks of the BMW X4 here – people are either going to love it or loathe it, and will have long since made up their minds which camp they fall into. Nevertheless, for what it’s worth we think the X4 is a slightly more convincing SUV coupe than the bigger X6, purely because it is a physically more delicate machine that doesn’t look hulking and offensive. The detailing is largely all identical to the handsome X3, save for that descending roof at the rear, and the X4 looks its absolute best in top-ranking M Sport guise, where its body addenda and larger alloys work well with some of the bolder paints offered.
Furthering the X4’s case is the fact there is only one direct rival for it within the class at this stage, which is the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe. Audi hasn’t yet done a ‘Q6’ derivative of the Q5, which is the X3’s analogue, and while the Porsche Macan and Jaguar F-Pace are both dynamic machines, they have conventional SUV shapes, rather than the BMW’s fastback appearance.

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Up front, the X4’s cabin is identical to the 2011 BMW X3’s cockpit, but that’s already been replaced, so while it’s orderly and beautifully built, the X4’s dash does lack for visual flair and feels old now. However, BMW’s iDrive remains the best infotainment system controller in the marketplace. Touchscreens are all well and good, but to use them effectively you have to take your eyes off the road for longer than is comfortable, whereas the iDrive’s click-and-scroll rotary controller works far more intuitively on the fly. Alongside that feature, every X4 comes with Nevada leather and heated front seats, which makes for pleasant motoring on cold winter mornings.
The obvious deficiencies compared to the X3 come in the form of reduced rear visibility for the driver, less headroom in the back, and a smaller boot. Yet, on these latter points, neither of them are as big a drawback as you might imagine. The roof is lower on the X4 than the X3, but then so are the seats, the rear bench mounted 28mm closer to the ground than it is in the regular SUV. That means headroom isn’t awful at all, even for taller adults, and there’s plenty of legroom too. The middle rear seat is less convincing, given the squab is high and flat, and the X4 has a chunky transmission tunnel cutting into the space allocated for lower legs and feet.
Meanwhile, the X4’s boot only loses 50 litres of capacity compared to the X3 with all chairs in place, and 200 litres with the back seats folded away; outright X4 numbers are 500 litres and 1,400 litres respectively. To boost practicality, all models have an automatic tailgate fitted and the rear backrests split in the 40:20:40 ratio.
There are plenty of storage cubbies, big door bins, and a capacious glovebox to make storing items a cinch, while multi-way adjustment of the seats and steering wheel allows for a spot-on driving position to be attained. So the X4 is not as impractical as its fiercest detractors would make out, although we can’t really defend the rear visibility issue – the back screen is like a letterbox and the X4 has fat D-pillars that restrict three-quarter vision too. That’s probably why BMW includes Park Distance Control sensors as standard on all X4s.

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Technology & Connectivity
There’s just enough standard connectivity gear to commend the X4, although it’d be nice if some of the toys that are cost options were included in the high purchase prices. Nevertheless, from SE level upwards, satellite navigation on a 6.5-inch colour screen is included, as is Bluetooth, DAB, MP3 compatibility, a multifunction steering wheel, BMW ConnectedDrive services, and Wi-Fi hotspot preparation.
Options include upgrading to full BMW Professional Nav on an 8.8-inch screen, which also comes with 20GB of hard drive storage space, plus enhanced Bluetooth with Voice Control and wireless phone charging, a TV function, and Apple CarPlay support. A reversing camera and an around-view monitor system are both available to aid parking manoeuvres. None of these items are extortionately expensive.
And neither are the two optional sound systems. The 205-watt BMW Advanced Loudspeaker packs nine speakers and a seven-channel amp, but the dearer Harman Kardon set-up is the audiophile’s choice, as it’s a 16-speaker system with a nine-channel amp, rated at 600 watts.

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Performance & Handling
As midsized SUVs go, the X4 is up there near the top of the dynamic charts, if not as involving as the Jaguar F-Pace or the sublime Porsche Macan. It’s about as good to drive as the X3, which is a compliment… but the promise of sharper handling, courtesy of its coupe-like bodywork, is never really fulfilled. It grips and goes with aplomb, rather than sparkle, as the steering is fine, the body control excellent, and the brakes nice and progressive. It’ll rarely put a grin on its driver’s face, sadly, although it is comfortable and hushed in regular driving conditions by way of compensation.
However, the engines are uniformly excellent. They’re all diesels, with a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder unit in the entry xDrive20d. It delivers 190hp and 295lb ft, enough for an eight-second 0-62mph time. It’s a mostly quiet and punchy engine, only really making harsh noises if it is revved to the redline.
It’s the engine we’d recommend if you’re on a budget, although it’s hard to resist the temptation of the bigger motor offered. It’s a 3.0-litre straight-six, with either 258hp and 413lb ft in the xDrive30d, or the range-topping xDrive35d’s deeply impressive numbers of 313hp and a beefy 465lb ft. Inline-six engines are a BMW trademark and this is a fabulous unit, cultured and full of muscle. The 30d can hit 145mph and takes 5.8 seconds to do 0-62mph, but the 35d trumps it with 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds and 153mph flat out.
As the xDrive badging asserts, the X4 range is entirely four-wheel drive. And, while there’s a six-speed manual gearbox fitted to the 2.0-litre engine, BMW’s exceptional eight-speed automatic is standard for the rest of the range; it’s an option on the manual 20d cars.
Recommended engine: xDrive20d M Sport
0-62 MPH
8.0 seconds
Fuel economy
53.3 mpg

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The X4 is a sturdy, protective car, with six airbags, tough passenger cell construction, DSC, and run-flat tyres with a pressure-monitoring system universally fitted. Options include a Head-Up Display, with Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane-Change Warning, Pedestrian Alert, Front Collision Warning, and Adaptive Headlights with High-Beam Assist function also available. There is no Euro NCAP rating for the X4, although the X3 reaped five stars in 2011, so there’s no reason to expect the coupe SUV to be any less safe.

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Spec & Trim Levels
There are 11 colours. Standard, non-metallic finishes are Jet Black and Alpine White. The cost-option metallic colours on all cars are Glacier Silver, Sophisto Grey Xirallic, Black Sapphire, and Melbourne Red. The following colours aren’t available on M Sport models, but there’s also Mineral White, Mineral Silver, Sparkling Brown, or Deep Sea Blue. Only the M Sport X4s come in Carbon Black metallic, with Jet Black solid not available on the top trim.
Trim Levels
The 20d comes in SE, xLine, and M Sport guises. Of those, the 30d drops the SE grade, while the 35d is only available as an M Sport. SE X4s get 18-inch alloys, Drive Performance Control switchable modes, variable Sport steering, and Xenon headlights. The xLine has different 18-inch wheels, as well as aluminium dash trim inside, neat exterior detailing, and front sports seats. The M Sport has bespoke external body styling, larger 19-inch alloys, sports suspension, an M Sport steering wheel, and Anthracite headlining.
Size and Dimensions
Curiously, the X4 is longer and wider than the X3, by 107- and 26mm respectively, although it is of course lower by 51mm. Folding the door mirrors in, the BMW’s body is 1,881mm across.
2,089mm (including door mirrors)
Max towing weight without brake
750kg (all models)

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Fuel Economy
BMW providing just diesel engines gives the X4 range decent economy figures from top to bottom, and opting for the eight-speed automatic on the 20d improves its fuel returns. The worst figures are turned in, not by the 35d, but actually the 30d M Sport, although 46mpg and less than 160g/km are still commendable figures for a big fast SUV. The cleanest X4 is the 20d SE Auto, which’ll give back more than 57mpg and emit less than 130g/km.
That means none of the X4s are too expensive to tax under the April 2017 revised VED laws, although of course the 30d and 35d models attract the lb310 surcharge from years two to six of ownership, courtesy of list prices in excess of lb40,000. The same applies to the 20d xLine Auto and the 20d M Sport. The lowest Benefit-in-Kind of 25 per cent is attached to the 20d Automatic on smaller wheels, while BMW’s traditionally healthy residual values means the X4 will protect its value well.
Reliability and servicing
While the X3 has been on sale since 2011, it hasn’t proved unreliable – and the newer X4, hitting the market in 2014, also seems dependable. It uses tried and tested BMW diesel powerplants and components, so it’s a pretty safe investment. BMW includes a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, too, for additional reassurance.
The X4 has the same condition-based servicing system as any other current BMW, which means an indicator on the dashboard flashes up when the car thinks it needs to go into the workshop for routine maintenance. Plans covering up to three years or 36,000 miles of servicing are available for a fixed fee.
Petrol models
Diesel models
No fixed schedule – BMW Condition-Based Servicing.

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The BMW X4 is at the pricier end of the spectrum, although the Mercedes GLC Coupe and the Porsche Macan are more expensive again. Some variants of the 20d list below the lb40,000 mark, but others are the wrong side of that figure, while the 30d xLine and M Sport cars are both in excess of lb45,000. Priciest of all is the xDrive35d M Sport, which knocks on the door of lb51,000, but two things help it here: one, it has loads of equipment and pace for that money; and two, a 240hp petrol Range Rover Evoque Autobiography is an astonishing lb51,200, putting the 313hp six-pot Beemer’s price into perspective.

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Company Car Buyer
Choosing the xDrive20d SE with the more efficient eight-speed auto is the best option for fleet managers interested in the X4.
Car Enthusiast
Straight to the top of the tree – the xDrive35d M Sport is the sportiest-feeling X4 of the lot, thanks to its 313hp six-cylinder engine.
Luxury Seeker
The xLine grade is the opulent choice and with the creamy 30d engine it’s the most comfort-oriented X4 of the line-up.
Audi Q5
The Mk2 Q5 of 2017 is more angular, looking like a shrunken Q7, but it majors on refinement over acuity – and it’s very, very sumptuous.
Jaguar F-Pace
One of the sportier premium SUVs, the Jag’s at its best with six-cylinder engines, which are pricey – so four-pot diesels are offered too.
Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe
This is the BMW’s only direct analogue. Regular GLC is a lovely machine and the Coupe is good too, although it is compromised and costly.
Porsche Macan
Still the sharpest-steering SUV of the lot, the Macan has a chassis that feels like it has been lifted from the Cayman sports car.
Range Rover Evoque
Unquestionably the fashionistas’ choice in the segment, the Evoque is small in the back and there’s no six-cylinder engine offered.


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