First Drive: 2019 BMW X4
When we asked project leader Joachim Dunkel about his team’s top objectives in engineering this all-new ’19 BMW X4, his first response was, “The exterior. To address the sportiness. To underscore more its coupe quality.” That is what customer research said was wanted in the next generation.
“First, we had to understand what it had to look like,” Dunkel said. “Can we bring the height down, make the wheelbase longer, and the track wider? Also to increase functionality with more headroom and more space in back. These are questions we had to answer from the beginning.” Because with award-winning carryover engines and the same new chassis that’s under its taller, boxier X3 platform mate, this Gen II X4’s performance, efficiency, and dynamics were hardly in question.
For those not up to speed on BMW’s model designations, its odd-numbered Series (1, 3, 5, 7, X1, X3, X5) are sedans and crossovers, or “Sports Activity Vehicles.” Even-numbered models (2, 4, 6, X2, X4, X6) are “coupes” (coop-ayes in Eurospeak) and convertibles. But the X2, X4, and X6 are actually sleek-roofed, five-door hatchbacks of the sort that European makers have recently taken to calling “coupes,” and BMW labels them “Sports Activity Coupes” or SACs.
And while this ’19 X4 is otherwise all new from its tire patches up, its engines (for North America) are carried over from the outgoing ’18. The X4 xDrive30i’s 2.0L turbo four generates 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, good for 6-second 0-60–mph runs. The X4 M40i’s 3.0L turbo I-6 pumps out 355 hp and 365 lb-ft for 4.6-second bursts to 60.
Both boast “BMW TwinPower” twin-scroll single turbochargers, direct fuel injection, Valvetronic fully variable valve timing, and Double VANOS variable camshaft control, with power going through an eight-speed “Steptronic” automatic transmission (with steering-wheel shift paddles) and rear-biased xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive. The M40i adds extra-large M Sport brakes with blue-painted calipers and Adaptive M Suspension with electronically controlled dampers.
This new X4 stands 3 inches longer, 0.1 inch lower, 1.4 inches wider, and 10 percent more aero slick, on a 2.1-inch longer wheelbase. With 19-inch alloy wheels (or available 20s or 21s), shorter overhangs, and full-LED lighting, it’s better proportioned and more athletic than the previous X4, yet retains good cargo capacity and has more rear-seat passenger room.
Premium materials and boldly bolstered sport seats complement its driver-oriented cockpit, ambient lighting offers a choice of six colors, and large door pockets and storage trays add functionality throughout. Its standard navigation works through a large 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen that can also be interfaced through an improved BMW iDrive Controller and cloud-powered voice control, and its head-up display projects navigation directions and other information on the windshield just below your direct line of sight.
A large panoramic moonroof is standard, while power heated seats, active seat ventilation, three-zone automatic climate control, and black or red leather with red or blue contrast stitching are optional. The back row offers three fullsize seats with an inch more legroom than before, and there’s 18.5 cubic feet of cargo space under the hatch, expandable to 50.5 by dropping their 40/20/40 split (and reclining) backrests, which can be done remotely from the trunk. The M40i has M-specific sport seats, a leather sport steering wheel, an anthracite-colored “BMW Individual” headliner, and aluminum trim with chrome accents.
The extensive option list includes a high-speed LTE WiFi hotspot for up to 10 mobile devices, and such devices as Apple Watch, Amazon Echo, and Google Assistant can sync with BMW Connected. The camera system offers Top, Panorama, and 3D View and can call up a live image of the vehicle and the area around it on your smartphone, and the aforementioned BMW Connected can remotely check fuel level, lock the doors, or activate ventilation.
We tested an X4 M40i on a variety of roads and found its driving dynamics—crisp, responsive steering; agile handling; tight but compliant ride; and sure, fade-free braking—in keeping with BMW tradition. It is more athletic than the taller X3 and dynamically close to a 3 or 4 Series car. The turbo six offers up a pleasingly aggressive engine note at wide-open throttle, but a bit too much “pop-pop” for our taste during lift-throttle deceleration. We also tried an xDrive30i and found its less muscular turbo four nearly as satisfying to drive.
Our few negative observations: With steering-wheel controls and a volume knob, we questioned the usefulness of gesture control (rotate your finger in the air in front of the radio, and it may respond), we were disappointed to find no grab handle above the front passenger door, and the nav screen’s automatic scale changes approaching a turn made at-a-glance judgments of distance to it somewhat difficult. Also (unlike the X3), it is not rated to tow.
In a market increasingly crowded with tall-car crossovers, it’s tough to make one at once functional, fun to drive, and distinctive-looking. But this new X4 seems to hit those marks well.
2019 BMW X4
Vehicle type: Midsize five-door crossover
Base price: $50,450
Price as tested: $71,825
Engines: 2.0L turbocharged I-4; 3.0L turbocharged I-6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Horsepower: 248 @ 5,200-6,500 rpm; 355 @ 5,500-6,500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 258 @ 1,450-4,800; 365 @ 1,520-4,800 rpm
Curb weight: 4146-4323 pounds
Towing capacity: NA
EPA mileage ratings: 2.0L: 22 mpg city/29 hwy/25 comb.; 3.0L: 20/27/23
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