What's the used BMW X4 estate like?
The X4 is a prime example of BMW’s obsession with niche-filling. It’s a large SUV but it’s also a coupé, apparently.
It takes the existing and popular X3 (an upright, spacious and straight-down-the-middle SUV), stretches it slightly, lowers it a tad and seats its passengers lower until it arrives at this car, which has an undeniably sportier look. It is, in short, the same job BMW did to the X5 to create the X6.
Underneath, the company has kept things relatively simple, with all X4s being four-wheel drive. Engine options are fairly limited, too, with a choice of diesels but only one petrol unit. The oil-burners start off with the four-cylinder 20d, available in six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic forms, and they end with the auto-only six-cylinder 30d and 35d. Topping the range in much the same way as the M model does in the X6 line-up is the X4 M40i, which uses a 355bhp, 3.0-litre, six-cylinder petrol engine.
Three trim levels were offered: SE, xLine and M Sport. All are well equipped, with entry-level SE featuring dual-zone climate control, cruise control, a DAB tuner, the iDrive infotainment system with sat-nav, DAB radio and Bluetooth, heated seats and all-round parking sensors. Upgrade to xLine and you get bigger alloy wheels, chrome detailing, a sports automatic gearbox and front sports seats. M Sport trim gets 19in wheels, sports suspension and an aerodynamic bodykit, while the M40i model gets numerous M Division revisions along with the heavily reworked 3.0-litre petrol engine.
On the road, the 20d offers surprisingly decent acceleration, with 0-62mph taking just 8.0sec. The 30d is impressively quick and, because it pulls strongly and doesn’t run out of puff at higher revs, it is effortlessly flexible. This sensation of speed is enhanced by its brilliant eight-speed automatic gearbox. It rarely gets caught out during sudden bursts of acceleration and it moves through the gears swiftly, but smoothly, at all other times. The 35d does the 0-62mph sprint in a mega-quick 5.2sec; few diesel SUVs can keep up with it in a straight line. None of the engines is particularly refined, however. There’s a gravelly baritone to the 30d’s motor, especially when it’s worked hard, while the 20d produces a lot of clatter.
In corners, the X4 is surprisingly good. It grips strongly and feels reassuring through its meaty steering. It handles well, turning in eagerly and staying flat. The ride is impressive, too, especially if fitted with BMW’s optional electronic damper control, which is worth seeking out. Comfort mode takes the sting out of bumps and potholes around town, while Sport improves body control in corners.
Inside, the driving position is good, but visibility can be a problem. The dashboard and all the surrounding layouts are familiar BMW, with clear, logical dials and controls. The iDrive rotary controller is a lovely thing to use – it's one of the best – and there are well-damped switches and high-quality materials on offer.
Space is fine up front and for two in the back, with loads of leg and head room, but a third rear passenger in the middle will feel a bit hemmed in. Boot space is sizeable, but a fraction down on the volume offered in the X3, such is the price of style.