The SAV coupe with the looks you will either love or hate
First Drive: BMW X4
The X4, which gets here on July 12, is a more straightforward proposition. I don't care how much they extol its virtues, it is to my way of thinking not a good looking Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) coupe. But then neither is the Nissan Juke (both have that awful sawn-off look) but look how well it does. There is no accounting for taste.
This is less outrageous than the larger X6 it copies. BMW people said to me they have learned lessons from the X6. Not sure about that.
The 3-litre diesel will lead the charge initially with this all-wheel-drive motor but the 2-litre diesel will be the one in demand. The seats are 20mm lower at the front and 28mm in the rear – that's to give you reasonable headroom under the sharply sloping roof. The strange-looking rear window isn't good for visibility.
The rear bench will take two in great comfort and the boot is decent with 500 litres expanding to 1,400 with the rear seas folded.
With 18ins wheels standard there was a metre of tyre tread under the axles, and really the level of traction and balance in this was extraordinary.
The 8spd automatic gearbox gives you the option of paddles on the steering column and, boy, can you have fun with that.
At €56,870 it is €5,740 more expensive than the X3 on which it is based (comparing 2.0ds) but there is more spec and equipment and when that's accounted for the gap is much narrower.
This gave quite a performance on the road and gripped like mad.
They have gone to great rounds to improve headroom at the back and the tailgate opens remotely (or you can whirl your foot under the rear bumper and sensors pick up on that and open it – optional extra).
And yet the X4 is an acquired taste. There is no denying its ability and the 435i version we had on test showed a capability that, perhaps, we have forgotten with our (understandable) preference for diesel.
If it were my choice I'd stick with the X3 or the Audi Q5. But I'm being a bit insular. This is the sort of car, apparently, they crave in the markets of real volume such as the US (where it is made) and China. Sales of its big brother X6 prove that.