X to the fourth power

Observer writer

Friday, February 22, 2019

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The 2019 BMW X4 has matured quickly for its second generation in order to catch up with the styling, luxury, and driving dynamics offered by its older sibling the X6, the vehicle that began the SUV-Coupé trend.

As expected, the BMW X4 shares a lot of the improvements with the also recently updated X3 on which it's based on. This means its longer and wider and roughly the same dimensions as the previous generation X5 and X6. Visually it turns head. There's more drama to the rear roofline as the new platform allows it to be a bit lower.

The benefits extend to the interior. Keyless entry sees quick and easy access to the well-appointed cabin. In M Sport trim, soft-touch material with lovely stitching and accents are abundant at all the key contact points. The powered M Sport seats continue to deliver the flexibility from SUV high seating position to performance car low. Regardless how one sits the gauge cluster, a blend of traditional physical and modern digital style, relays all the data from the three drive modes. It proves a great assistant to the easy to use iDrive infotainment system. Connect via whatever method, USB, Bluetooth and stow away the device in any of the large practical storage solutions. Flip the rear badge to open the power tailgate which reveals a sizeable trunk.

Interaction can take place via the intuitive iDrive controller or the buttons on the chunky leather-wrapped steering wheel. All major functions are automated and can be set and forgotten with one button. One such button is Park Assist, when activated the X4 will automatically scan for parking spaces nearby. If one is found, owners can experience the current generation of this BMW technology. Holding it down, with no other input, will see the vehicle park itself either parallel or horizontal.

In the rear, the roofline has little impact on ingress and egress, again due to the new body parameters. Once in back, passengers enjoy the same level of luxury as the front pair even partaking in the influx of light when the panoramic sunroof is opened. At night is where the BMW's luxury touches shine, literally. Open the doors and one is greeted by illumination from all four door handles. Adding further guidance the X4 displays a strake of lights on the ground as if a runway. The ambient lighting inside runs from front to back and has several colour options.

Fire up the X4 and cabin refinement continues. In ECO-PRO, or the default COMFORT modes the 2-litre turbo charged engine only makes itself felt during aggressive acceleration.

In SPORT mode, the display quickly switches to the relevant information, as throttle, the eight-speed transmission and steering become more athletic. This is where the X3 and the X4 depart ways. With its sportier visage, the driving feel is the same devouring the road like a sports sedan rather than a traditional SUV. It never gets uncomfortable as bodyroll is non-existent. Only major impacts make it into the cabin, others it just floats over. Handling is helped by the xDrive all-wheel drive system, but despite its on-road bias the X4 does have some off-road chops handling situations with its intelligent traction control that even full blown 4x4s might have problems with.

The SUV-Coupé is a hot market, but still unique enough to grab attention. This is exactly what the X4 is, that thin line between sports car and SUV in every way possible. If not for the raised ride height one could easily mistake it for a sleek sedan. Inside it contains all the elements expected from a SUV, but has the ability to drive so car-like one would forget it is an SUV. Throw in the fact that it can be taken off-road and the BMW X4 is for the SUV buyer looking for something out of the norm

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