BMW has thrown down the gauntlet to premium competition with the arrival of its all-new, second generation X4 Sports Activity Vehicle - it's bigger and better in every way and has even developed an aggressive streak.
The first generation X4 has sold more than 200,000 units since it was launched in 2014, so thelatest car has a lot to live up to. And it does just that thanks to a lower, longer and wider stance, along with a modern interior that's packed to bursting with on-board technology.
Our car in muscular M Sport trim cost £44,970 although a number of optional extras saw the price jump to £57,255. It was powered by a 2.0-litre 190ps diesel engine delivering 400Nm of torque and could complete the 0-62mph dash in 8.0 seconds, maxing out at 132mph. And according to official figures, the X4 could deliver combined fuel economy of 50.4mpg with carbon emissions of 146g/km.
The new X4 is a difficult vehicle to ignore with a road presence that simply demands a second glance thanks to its muscular and aggressive appearance. Styling cues include BMW'sinstantly-recognisable kidney grille along with twin headlight units.
There are new horizontal fog lights integrated into the outer air intakes plus L-shaped LED tail lights positioned at the extreme edges of the vehicle to accentuate its width. Twin tail pipes and 21-inch alloys complete the look.
Move inside and the interior cannot fail to impress with a modern and upmarket feel. It boasts the finest leather upholstery, lots of neat piano black trim and soft-touch surfaces.
There's a wealth of on-board technology to explore, including full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a 10.3-inch touchscreen, a harmon kardon sound system, plus air conditioning.
Our car featured a Technology package which added £1,690 to the cost but introduced a head-up display, a digital cockpit that alters the display according to the driving mode, Bluetooth with wireless charging and gesture control which allows you toadjust functions such as the audio volume by rotating your finger clockwise or anticlockwise near the touchscreen. You can also accept or dismiss phone calls via this feature.
When it comes to performance, the X4 is a dream to drive. The chassis set-up has been upgraded, which increases the comfort levels, but the car can still deliver where it matters - out on the open road.
The acceleration is rapid through theeight-speed automatic gearbox with paddles if you fancy taking a little more control. The diesel engine offers all the power necessary for short bursts of acceleration and the car is happy clocking up the motorway miles or being pushed through the country lanes. The road-holding is assured and, despite its high-sided design, there is minimal body sway.
The steering is perfectly weighted and the X4 feels balanced and composed while still delivering plenty of adrenalin-rush performance.
Driving modes called Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport alter the throttle, steering and handling of the car, and the instrumentation adjusts accordingly too. In Sport mode there is a red glow to the read-outs along with the introduction of some ‘M' badging.
The X4 also featuresxDrive, which is BMW's impressive all-wheel drive system, that will keep you on course during harsher driving and weather conditions.
The cabin is well-insulated against any road surface, engine or wind noise and the highly-efficient suspension system irons out most of the bumps and dips along the way.
The X4 is based on the X3 but is more dynamically styled and that has a slight impact on passenger and storage space.
The boot can accommodate between 525 and 1,430 litres of kit with the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat, but if storage is a priority the X3 can carry up to 1,600 litres.
Due to the X4's sloping roof coupe-like design, taller passengers in the back may find the head room a little limited, but leg space is good.
As one would expect, the X4 is packed with safety systems to protect occupants and pedestrians alike, as well as a number of driver aids to help prevent collisions occurring in the first place.
For example there is Collision and Pedestrian Warning with City Collision Mitigation, Cruise Control with braking function and autonomous Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go that will bring the car to a halt and set off again in heavy traffic.
Out car also featured a Driving Assistance Plus pack that added Lane Keeping Assist with Side Collision Protection, Steering and Lane Control, Cross Traffic Warning and Crossroads Warning Systems.