Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Calvin Chan
The BMW X6 was always a love it or hate it car, and compromise was it's middle name. It wasn't exactly an SUV either. The Range Rover Evoque, MINI Paceman, and the X6 all had a large affinity for sloping rooflines, but this attributed to miniature cargo spaces, minimal rear passenger headroom and poor rear visibility. Yet since its launch in 2008, BMW has sold more than 250,000 of them off the dealer lots, so they must have been doing something right.
But somewhere in BMW HQ, somebody thought they needed a vehicle to fit somewhere in between an X3 and X6, but to be slightly larger than a 335i GT. They were ready to compromise anything as long as the styling was radical and defined a new market niche. They turned to the local crossbreeder and the BMW X4 was born. Compared to the X3, this mini X6 is only 14mm longer, but sits 36mm lower. Cargo space is also 50 litres less with the seats folded up, and a mind-boggling 200 litres fewer with them folded down. Borrowing the front of an X3 with its LEGO block head lights and the rear of a bulky hunchback X6, the controversial X4 is poised for the 2015 market with a mindset of looks over practicality.
There are only two powertrains available for the BMW X4, each separated by a $8650 price difference. The 28i model that we are currently testing shelters a turbocharged inline-four that delivers 241 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The beefier 35i engine is the traditional straight-six and churns out an even 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. Our first impression of the 28i engine was that the throttle response was too numb. There wasn't enough pedal feel and the acceleration felt lethargic. That was COMFORT mode, so you can only imagine ECO PRO mode. In this driving mode, power delivery is tuned down and the gas pedal gets anaesthetized for the sake of saving fuel. But the lack of power complaints are mitigated once you hit the SPORT mode button. Like suddenly finding the mythical spot of the female anatomy, everything sharpens up - the gear changes are faster and the throttle gets extremely sensitive. The built-in torque display even showed us that a delicate feather of the gas pedal in SPORT mode unleashes all 258 lb-ft of torque at once to the four wheels. The inline-four engine is fast, the powerband is linear, and it's more than one second quicker from 0-100 km/h than the Range Rover Evoque. The only unfortunate aspect is that the car's default setting is COMFORT mode, so get used to punching in that SPORT button every time you start the engine. If that becomes too much of a nuisance, I would opt for the quicker 35i straight-six engine that offers 59 more horsepower and 42 more lb-ft of torque. It offers more beef and more sport for your money. The M-Sport package, which adds a whole array of aerodynamic bumpers, sills, and interior upgrades, is also standard on the 35i model but optional on the 28i.
We loved the steering in the BMW X6, and the X4 is no different. The wheel has a good heft to it and there is a moderate amount of feedback from the front 19-inch tires. The X4 grips strongly in the corners for such a tall car, and it's body control and understeer resistance definitely sits above most other SUVs in its class. The cabin is well insulated and the ride is fairly comfortable thanks to a moderately soft suspension, but the gentle ride molds the X4 into lacking any sense of dynamic appeal. Even in SPORT mode, we expected the suspension and steering to be much stiffer and more communicative considering the X4 is being classed as a "Sports Activity Coupe".
Fuel economy with the X4 is mediocre. We averaged 10.9 L/100km with a heavier bias on city driving. The ubiquitous START/STOP engine feature that shuts off the car when idling isn't too intrusive and feels like more of a helping hand. Though it does hinder fast acceleration off the get-go, the function can be muted with the push of a single button (and the computers will remember the "OFF" setting for the future too).
We've asked our friends and colleagues about the styling of the X4, and we've come to a general consensus that it's not a very handsome looking car. The crossbreed bears an awkward rising shoulder-line that peaks right above the driver's seat and takes it's time sweeping into the bulging trunk. The rear lights follow a common theme with the 4-series and GT models from BMW - I actually like them better than the current 3-series and 5-series lights. We've also agreed that the car only looks good from certain angles - the full front view and full rear view. Catching a glimpse of the sloping roofline makes me feel disoriented, is this supposed to be a coupe or an SUV? It's stuck somewhere in limbo.
What the X4 lacks in the sheetmetal, it makes up for in the cabin. It looks like any other BMW interior, but there are minute changes that make me very happy. The retractable cup holder cover is a welcome sight, it's much better than the manually removable cover found in previous models, aka. shove-in-the-glovebox-forever-covers. The pop-up iPad-style infotainment screen that we have oh-so-despised has also gone M.I.A (for the better) and has been replaced by a sunken-in screen that is flush with the dashboard - the current 5-series also incorporates it and we think it looks way better. Furthermore, the interior fit and finish of the X4 is excellent. The materials look solid and the leather seats feel durable and comfortable.
It was our first time testing a BMW without the optional Harmon Kardon speakers and coming from someone who isn't too experienced in audio, I can tell the speakers aren't as crisp. I can't hear as many background instruments, the sound gets slightly hazy at high volume, and the bass isn't as strong. If you like your windows down and volume turned up, I'd recommend grabbing the Harmon Kardons.
Things I don't like about the interior are the X-marked headrests that come standard with the X-Line package. They look like tally marks for how many parking tickets I've gotten. Front passenger space is very good due to the roofline peaking right above the driver's seat. You sit fairly low in the X4 compared to other SUVs, but the square and straight driving position allow for great forward visibility. However, the plunging roofline doesn't do us any favours for rear and blind spot visibility. Headroom in the rear is a downer, but we didn't expect much from the baby X6 either. Standing 6-feet tall, my neck has to hunch a bit when I sit in the back and mimics the feel of sitting in the rear seats of an Evoque or BMW 435i Coupe. I am disappointed about the cargo space in the trunk, or rather the lack of it. The 40:20:40 split-folding rear bench can accommodate 500 litres of cargo space folded up and 1400 litres when folded down. The numbers are comparable to the Porsche Macan S, but both the X3 and Evoque can carry much more in the boot.
I really want to like the X4, but the looks aren't there and the cargo space, which is what most SUV buyers look for, is lacking. Why would you buy an X4 when an X3 that costs $3000 less looks better, has more rear passenger room, sports a bigger boot, and has an optional diesel engine. Yes, the X4 is BMW's answer to the popular Evoque and Macan, but I feel like it has tipped the scales into a more fashionable vehicle rather than a pragmatic one. Don't get me wrong, the build quality is excellent and the drivetrain is beefy and smooth, but practicality is what turns me off about the X4. Rather, this vehicle is for those that would rather wear high heels and skirts on a snowy winter day rather than a parka. They're certainly not warm, but they know it looks hella damn good.
型号 Model: 2015 BMW X4 xDrive28i
顏色 Paint Type: Melbourne Red Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $46,300
試車售價 Price as Tested: $53,995
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2810
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4671 / 1881 / 1624
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1873
引擎 Engine: 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline-four
最大馬力 Horsepower: 241 hp @ 5000-6500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1450-4800 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed Steptronic sport automatic with paddle shifters
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD (xDrive)
前懸 Suspension-Front: MacPherson struts, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Multi-link, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Ventilated discs
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Ventilated discs
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 11.8 / 8.4 / 10.3
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Goodyear Eagle LS - 245/45R19