THE sport utility vehicle (SUV) market continues with an unabated appetite for every variant on the theme. When BMW invented the coupé-styled SUV with the X6, what many thought was a fad has become one of the hottest niches. For 2022, the mid-sized version of the original, the X4, has been updated to keep it ahead of the competition. It begins with the knowledge that to BMW the X4 is not a SUV, but a SAV, that's sport activity vehicle to the layman. It might sound like a marketing term, however, there's more than enough sport and activity in the X4 to justify that claim.
Sport isn't only about performance, but appearance as well. Love or hate the merging of SUV and coupé, the X4 charts an aggressive stance. There have been slight tweaks with the major differences seen in the headlights, front bumper and rear lights, all LED, thinner and sculpted.
The X4 is BMW luxury from the get-go. This is real keyless entry. Once the vehicle senses the key at the correct proximity, the side mirrors extend to indicate it's open, the doors unlock with all four lit and a puddle lamp that stretches to the rear doors. It's pull the door handle to enter and walk away to close.
Like the X3, the X4 has inherited the interior bits from the 3 series sedan making it feel even more car-like. It's a familiar design, with quality materials from stitched leather to metal accents across every surface highlighted by the large panoramic sunroof. Everything is easily within reach, not that much effort will be necessary to use them as many controls are either powered or can be set to operate automatically. Running things from the centre is the large infotainment touch screen. BMW iDrive continues to offer significantly different methods of interaction ranging from the rotary controller, to voice and even hand-written input. Of course, there is great audio from any of the several connectivity options.
The refined cabin has plenty of space. Those worried about the impact of the sloping rear roofline on back seat packaging need not do so. The X4 can haul its occupants and cargo in comfort. Multiple storage solutions, a powered rear hatch, and three-zone climate control and ambient lighting go a lot way to doing so.
What happens when priorities move from everyday activities to performance? The X4 is right there with a press of the SPORT mode button. The powerful two-litre TwinPower Turbo motor gets snappier, ready to unleash all of its 184bhp and 221 lb/ft of torque. With the aid of the traction of the xDrive all-wheel drive system this isn't just forward acceleration, but the athletic chassis and electronic sub-systems ensure corners aren't a threat either. Now endowed with sharper throttle performance, faster shifts from the eight-speed automatic transmission which also holds the gears longer to the redline, the X4 can be easily coaxed into a spirited drive, confirming its sporty driving credentials.