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Yet another 'X' marks spot as crossover gains speed

THE demand for crossover vehicles is prompting more variants by the day. BMW is now going to make an 'X' version of its new 4-series that will go on sale next year.

The German maker will introduce the X4 at the Shanghai Motor Show later this month.

That means it joins the 4-series coupe, which goes on sale this year, and there is a convertible mooted for next year.

That is quite a lineup in a short time but shows how much of a market the big makers see coming down the line. The 4-series generally is aimed at younger buyers who want premium motors with a bit of swish and style.

As an indication of how the crossover market is growing, BMW's X1, X3, X5 and X6 made up more than one-quarter (26pc) of its European sales for the first two months of the year.

Last year, European mid-size premium SUV sales increased by a quarter.

The new X4 will be based on the X3 platform while the coupe and convertible will have the 3-series saloon as their underpinning.

As of now it is not clear if all-wheel drive will be standard.

There is no doubting the resemblance between the design theme of the X4 and the current X6, which I think is not a pretty car at all.

I don't think mixing coupé looks with a high riding off-roader is the most successful blend available. However, the X6 has done really well, especially in the US, and BMW says it is going to be the look of future 'X' models.

The X4 (4648mm) is 227mm shorter than the X6, 68mm lower (1622mm tall) but 70mm wider (1915mm). It shares the 2810mm wheelbase with the X3.

However, it will have different track widths to give it greater grip.

Like the latter it will be built in the US and is expected to share items such as the dashboard and centre console.

The individual rear seats will be divided by a console for the more traditional four-seat layout, but expect a five-seat option too.

Also expect it to have a range of 4cyl/6cyl petrols and diesels and either a 6spd manual or 8spd automatic transmission.

Irish Independent