BMW X4 excites
Ever since the launch of the BMW X6 in 2009, it has been clear that the company isn't afraid to try new design concepts. For this reason, they have continued with the coupÈ-SUV hybrid and brought it to the X4.
The first thing that stands out is the bold kidney grille, with huge functional air vents in the bumper that give it a demonstrative look. It also appears more refined, with more curves, than its predecessor, which was a bit too boxy for my taste.
There are other improvements from the previous model as it is 81mm longer, with 54mm added to the wheelbase and 37mm of extra width. It is also lowered by 3mm. All of these elements come together to give it dynamically stretched proportions that emphasise its 50:50 weight distribution and hint at the enhanced performance potential.
From the side, it's hard to miss the swooping roofline, which does cut in on the head space of rear-seat passengers. The design also leads to the L-shaped LED rear lights, with their three-dimensional housing, which are slim in design and positioned at the extreme edges of the rear. At the base are the twin exhaust tailpipes, which magnify the width of the rear end.
Interior design that's on point
The interior is what is expected of BMW, with refinement and elegance all over and a premium feel. The driver sits in a multi-directional bucket seat with side bolsters that can be electronically adjusted in size to perfectly hug the driver. These redesigned sports seats, with the boldly contoured side bolsters, provide outstanding lateral support, even in extreme handling situations. In addition, the base of the seat can be adjusted for persons with long thighs.
The surfaces of the instrument panel and door panels merge smoothly into one another, while the 'X' logos embossed into the electroplated surfaces of the front and rear doors are further eye-catching details. The centre console is angled slightly towards the driver, which, from a functionality standpoint, is very effective.
All the controls are aesthetically organised to look contemporary while ingratiating themselves into the overall theme of the interior. One row, which sits below the A/C vents, is dedicated to the audio controls, and even has a dedicated slot for a CD. The row below has the temperature controls, which have the option to control the climate for both driver and front passenger.
Another standout is the panoramic glass roof, which has much larger dimensions than the previous model. The two-sectioned glass has an overall length of 924 millimetres and a width of 890 millimetres, allowing the amount of light in the interior and the supply of fresh air to be altered as required. There is also a sunblind that is electrically operated, as is the front section of the glass roof.
It's evident that BMW paid attention to all the small details as most things in the vehicle feel very personalised, with precise build quality and a host of meticulously crafted details.
The electric window buttons, the start/stop button, the multifunction buttons on the sports steering wheel, and the controls on the centre console can also be embellished with galvanic detailing as an option. Meanwhile, ambient lighting around the centre console and instrument panel, in the door panelling, and in the footwells enhances the sense of well-being. The lighting mood can be adjusted by the driver, with a choice of six colours.
Technology at its best
The overall build and handling of the vehicle feels well engineered, and it performs in a way that is both smooth and impressive. Even the weight of the steering feels perfect to handle the two-litre engine. As the accelerator is pressed the BMW advanced TwinPower Turbo technology kicks in, providing a thrust of power. This lets you know that it is fully capable of utilising the 252hp if it ever needs to achieve the top speed of 240km/h.
Given that it is an all-wheel-drive vehicle, matted to an eight-speed Steptronic transmission, it is equipped to take on multiple terrains with various drive modes. For me, normal mode was quite sufficient as the engine was well tuned.
The most intriguing feature I wanted to experience was its self-parking capabilities. So the brand manager, Sloane Jackson, and I went to Emancipation Park to try it out. With me in the driver's seat, we searched for a parking spot.
When we finally found one, I pressed the self-parking button, put the gear lever in reverse, and turned on the indicator. From there, the vehicle used the camera and sensors to manoeuvre itself into the space, without me having to touch the steering wheel. This was nothing short of impressive, plus, it's ahead of its time.
The version I test drove was the xDrive 30, which felt commanding on the road, with impressive suspension. From a performance standpoint, BMW certainly did not disappoint with this vehicle.
- Comfort Access
- Parking assistant
- Hi-fi speaker system
- M Aerodynamics package
- Ambient interior lighting
- M Sport Suspension
- Adaptive LED Headlight
- M leather steering wheel
- Model tested: BMW xDrive 30
- Cost: $13,100,000
Vehicle provided by ATL Autobahn, 38-42 Lady Musgrave Road, Kgn 5.