BMW X4 3.0d M Sport

BMW X4 M Sport, front
BMW X4 M Sport, front
BMW X4 M Sport, front
BMW X4 M Sport, interior
BMW X4 xDrive 20d M Sport, 2018, side, profile
BMW X4 M Sport, rear

YOU can't get away from the fact that the BMW X4 is less practical than its boxy brother, the X3, with which it shares much of its parts and engineering.

The semi-coupe styling means less luggage room and the lower ground clearance limits its off-road ability. But so what?

Truth is most SUV owners never venture further off-road than a Waitrose parking bay, and the majority of buyers chooser their motor on the basis of what it looks like.

All which puts the second generation X4, launched last year, in a strong position. The somewhat wishy-washy styling of the earlier version has been toughened up and replaced by a large dominant grille and at the rear new tail treatment gives the latest version greater road presence and identity.

It might not have the impact of the larger, more flamboyant X6, but the gap has certainly been narrowed.

There's the usual wide engine choice, taking in petrol and diesel versions including two-litre four-cylinder units and three litre six-pots. All models are four-wheel-drive.

It was the turbocharged 3.0 diesel that we focused on - a swift five-door that marries punchy performance and sharp handling with a reasonable degree of comfort and luxury.

With a lower centre of gravity than the boxy X3 and a wider track together with a more sporting suspension set-up, it is no surprise that the more rakish X4 corners and handles with greater finesse and athleticism. Sharp steering which offers a degree of communication is a further plus for keen drivers.

Power from the creamy 3.0-litre is smooth and plentiful with 62mpg coming up in less than six seconds, putting it in the Porsche Macan class.

The cabin has the familiar Beemer hallmarks of heavy duty dark plastic mouldings and a general air of quality if not individuality. There's actually ample room for passengers partly thanks to more generous external dimensions - it's 8cm longer and nearly 4cm wider than the earlier car.

Boot space is up by 25 litres giving it a cargo area of 525 litres which should be enough for most families. The rear seat splits 40-20-40, adding to its practical appeal.

There are no gearbox options other than the eight-speed Tiptronic unit, but that's no hardship as this box is crisp, sharp and as intuitive as they come. Changes are made quickly and smoothly and with huge amounts of torque, progress is impressively rapid and unflustered.

The only fly in the ointment, at times, is the ride which can prove a trifle lumpy over indifferent surfaces only to smooth out as speed mounts. The clever four wheel drive system juggles power continuously to the correct wheels allowing high levels of drama-free adhesion.

Although visibility is good, you tend to sit somewhat lower than many SUVs which emphasises the more sporty nature of the X4.

While there's a tendency to press on and revel in the generous spread of power, fuel consumption remains modest. Our average of 34mpg will probably be improved upon by the majority of owners.

FAST FACTS

BMW X4 3.0d M Sport

Price: £54,435

Mechanical:265bhp, 2,998cc, 6cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 149mph

0-62mph: 5.8 seconds

Combined MPG: 47.1

Insurance Group: 41

C02 emissions: 154g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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