ROAD TEST: The cavernous and curvy BMW X4
PICKING your favourite BMW X4 is akin to lining up the Hemsworth brothers.
While the Aussie acting trio aren't as polarising in looks as the X4, both possess a similar family lineage that ends with an almighty Thor-like hammer.
The X4 follows resemblance principles of its bigger brother, the X6, which ignited the coupe-inspired SUV genre. Sharing underpinnings with the mid-size X3, the X4 range was revised last year which delivered extra cargo carrying capacity and additional internal space.
Prices start from $76,900 for the base models, but our back-to-back test featured the derivative's top two models: the xDrive30i which has a sticker of $83,900 and the powerhouse M40i which starts from $109,900.
Given their positioning on the X4 tree, the pair are rightfully well specified with little need to visit the options aisle.
Most customers opted for the M Sport pack previously and that's now standard across the range, which includes side cladding, bigger wheels, leather steering wheel and sports seats. White is the only external paint colour that doesn't cost an extra $1950, while other options are black, silver, grey, red and blue. Sunstone metallic costs $2300.
The 30i also has keyless entry with automatic tailgate which can open by swiping your foot under the back of the car, driver's 12.3-inch colour instrument display, 20-inch alloys, 10.25-inch central touchscreen and three-zone aircon.
Jumping up to the M40i comes with a panoramic sunroof, bigger 21-inch alloys, Harman/Kardon surround sound system with 16 speakers, heated front seats as well as BMW's concierge service that offers 24-hour assistance for just about anything you need - like finding an ATM, service station, travel destination or a specific restaurant.
BMW uses "condition-based” servicing, but bank on maintenance annually. There are basic service packages for $1495 covering five years and includes many of the essentials such as new filters and plugs, but the $4400 "Plus” pack covers brakes, wiper blades and clutch.
The X3 was awarded five stars by Australia's crash safety experts, but the X4 hasn't been officially given a rating due to low volumes. The X4 did gain five stars in European testing during 2017, and much of the landmark testing criteria is shared here.
Across the range a head-up display is standard, while the active safety suite now includes traffic sign recognition to provide constant advice of speed limits.
It also comes with 360-degree cameras to make parking easier, radar cruise control and functionality which can autonomously steer the car between white lines.
One innovation that works well is radar cruise control which operates in conjunction with traffic sign recognition. When the cruise control is operational and the speed zone changes up or down, a small triangle illuminates on the head-up display and one push of the steering wheel toggle matches the new speed. Smart.
Poles apart, this pairing offer vastly different experiences behind the wheel.
Equipped with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo tuned for 185kW/350Nm, the 30i offers strong and effective performance without setting the world alight.
Across the range the suspension and ride is firm, aimed to offer cornering dexterity, but the 30i falls short on the athleticism scale despite a nifty 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.3 seconds.
But punch the M40i ignition button and there's an indication of the extra $26,000 investment. Blipping the throttle from start-up, a raspy exhaust soundtrack boisterously displays its attributes.
Ripping from standstill to 100km/h in less than five seconds it's likely to win just about every traffic light sprint. Sub five seconds used to be a benchmark for supercars not long ago.
The suspension tune is even stiffer than its siblings, but consider this a performance car on stilts. Gravity ensures the X4 still pitches and rolls somewhat during aggressive cornering with sharp changes of direction, yet keen drivers will love the engagement on offer.
Operationally, BMW maintains familiar internal design and layout across the range.
The larger and just launched X5 has adopted a slightly different set-up, and surprisingly we think the old system used in this X4 range is better and more intuitive.
Cargo space grew by 25 litres with the update, bolstering the curvy SUV's boot capacity to 525 litres, with the flexibility of dropping the seats in a 40-20-40 split.
Big and bold, the X4 is no shrinking violet among the SUV trendsetters but I love the look.
That soundtrack and the ability of the M40i is worth the extra spend. It takes the X4 from "meh” to "my God”.
MERCEDES GLC 250 COUPE FROM $82,400
Also more style than sporty, it is motivated by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder good for 155kW/350Nm. For something a little more savage, there's always the capable GLC43 AMG from $111,250 with a 3.0-litre twin turbo V6 good for 270kW/520Nm and a similar sprint time to the M40i.
ALFA ROMEO STELVIO TI FROM $78,900
While it's not flawless, the fashionable Alfa Romeo Stelvio offers a distinctive new flavour in the mid-size SUV market. Base model powered by a 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 206kW/400Nm. At the top of the tree is the Quadrifoglio at $149,900, powered by a 375kW/600Nm Ferrari-manufactured 2.9-litre V6.
Bolder and arguably more beautiful, the X4 is still a head-turner of the highest proportion. The growth spurt makes it more loveable from practicality perspective. Opt for the M40i and you have lust as well.
AT A GLANCE
BMW X4 XDRIVE30I
WARRANTY/SERVICING 3 years/unlimited km, basic servicing $1495 for five years
ENGINE 2.0-litre 185kW/350Nm 4-cylinder turbo petrol, 8sp auto
SAFETY AEB, Active Cruise Control with Stop&Go function, Cross traffic warning on the front, Steering & Lane Control Assistant and Lane keeping assistant with Side Collision Warning
THIRST 7.8 litres/100km
SPARE None, run flats
AT A GLANCE
BMW X4 M40I
ENGINE 3.0-litre 265kW/500Nm 6-cylinder, 8sp auto
THIRST 9.2 litres/100km