Sunday drive with Hormazd Sorabjee: It’s an SUV? It’s a coupe? It’s a BMW X4!
You have SUVs and you have coupes, which are two distinct body styles that sit at different ends of the spectrum. But can you roll them into one and have an SUV coupe? It’s a bit like mating a gorilla with a gazelle and the offspring is well, something in between. Purists may cringe at the thought of this mixed breed of vehicle which looks like a jacked up sports car, but the fact is that the ‘crossover coupe’ segment has exploded ever since BMW invented it with the X6 over a decade ago.
Not surprisingly, BMW’s rivals like Mercedes and Porsche all wanting a slice of action, crashed the party with their own models. But BMW went a step further (and a size down) with the X4, the X6’s baby brother, to keep its grip on this lucrative niche.
And it’s the latest or second-generation BMW X4 that’s on sale in India, which came four years after the original X4 was launched.
Quite a sport
The BMW X4 is essentially the coupe version of the new X3 and under the skin there’s a lot of commonality between the two. Whilst the X3 is the practical one, the X4 is the sportier sibling whose reasons to be are its sleek looks and more dynamic character.
But to craft a high-riding SUV with large wheels into a svelte coupe is always a tricky job for designers and the result is usually something that isn’t easy to digest. Like the X6 before it, the scaled down X4 has the same love it or loathe it styling which SUV traditionalists may scoff at. True, the upright front and vertical grille are at odds with the swooping roofline at the rear but with the second-generation X4, BMW has got the proportions right and the 19-inch wheels give it aggressive road presence.
With the new X4, BMW is targeting style-conscious Indians who want a bit more flash in their SUVs and don’t mind sacrificing a bit of practicality.
Back seat bump
Style and practicality are two fundamental requirements that are always at odds with each other and the point where they collide in a car that aims to look good and be spacious at the same time is the back seat. So let’s get that bit out of the way first.
The coupe-like roofline eats into headroom and six-footers sitting at the back will brush the rooflining with their heads. Legroom though is surprisingly good, but the seat back is too upright for long drives. I was hunting for a lever to adjust the backrest angle but realised that there’s no recline function, which is an option on the X3. No, this is not the car to buy if you’re mainly chauffer driven, especially if you’re tall. The place to be, is in the front. You’re treated to the same spot-on driving position, sensibly laid-out controls, virtual dials and an infotainment system that comes with the latest version of BMW’s iDrive system.
The xDrive 30d variant of the X4, which comes with all-wheel-drive and a smooth and muscular 265hp six-cylinder diesel engine, offers all the power you’ll need. The tsunami of power that follows a firm tap of the accelerator will slingshot you past traffic in sports car-like fashion. A claimed acceleration time of 0-100kph is seriously fast but the way the X4 rockets forward, it feels even faster.
There’s no point having exceptional pace if you can’t use it and thankfully the X4’s chassis is happy to play ball. High ground clearance, safe and secure handling and eye-poppingly effective brakes let you exploits the X4’s performance easily and safely.
Should you buy one? The BMW X4 is essentially a svelte version of the X3. It’s less of a family car and more for the individual who loves to drive and wants an extra bit of style. And that’s what you’re paying a hefty premium for.
Hormazd Sorabjee is one of the most senior and much loved auto journalists in India, and is editor of Autocar India
Sunday Drive appears every fortnight
From HT Brunch, August 11, 2019
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