BMW X4 Review: Pricey, but pretty
Before we can even begin talking about the new BMW X4, perhaps a quick primer on the carmaker's naming conventions.
BMW uses X to denote its SUVs and the even number behind the letter marks it out as one of its sportier, or more special (for a given value of special) vehicles.
What this makes the X4 is it's effectively the sportier, or at least, sportier-looking counterpart to the X3. It's also roughly $20,000 more expensive than the X3, which represents around a 10 percent premium.
But is it worth the extra 20 grand? Well, stick around to find out.
The importance of being practical
Not everyone is interested in absolute practicality and that's fair enough. If the need for good looks trump everything else, then the X4 is a no-brainer. To achieve the X4's low roofline and sleek silhouette, some concessions were made, with the most obvious coming in the car's compromised visibility.
The view out the rear window is particularly bad, and if it's all too easy for objects and other road users to hide in your blind spot. The fact the X4 rides fairly tall and has a slight wedge shape doesn't help matters either.
Thankfully, the poor rearward visibility while parking isn't too much of a problem, since the X4 comes standard with a reverse camera, along with 360-degree cameras that project a bird's eye view of the car onto the central screen.
But where most people will feel the practicality pinch is in its rear bench. Rear headroom isn't the best and taller passengers are likely to feel rather claustrophobic back there. And thanks to the lower roof, its boot isn't as large, with 500 litres on offer versus the 550 litres in the X3.
Then again, if practicality was your main concern, then you probably wouldn't even be considering the X4, would you?
The importance of being good-looking
Whether or not you're taken with the way the X4 looks is entirely dependant on your point of view. We think that the X4 looks pretty good, though we may be comparing it to its predecessor, which tended to look a little, well, generic.
But like most modern cars, the way we think about it depends on its colour. Black or white (the colour of our test car, incidentally) certainly don't do the X4 any favours, making it look exceptionally nondescript.
As for its interior, well, it's exactly the same as the X3. That is to say, on the sombre side, in keeping with the current BMW interior design idiom, with the atmosphere lifted somewhat by the presence of LED ambient lighting strips. though you do get a few X4 plaques peppered throughout its cabin to let you know exactly what you paid $20,000 more for.
...And on the topic of that $20,000...
We're not entirely sure how to tell you this, but apart from its sleek new looks, the X4 is, for all intents and purposes, identical to the X3. Yes, it handles in a far more tidy fashion, the sleeker roofline affording the X4 a lower centre of gravity, but for most people and for most situations, there aren't a lot of other distinguishing factors.
On the surface of things, it's hard to justify the additional expense — a not-insignificant additional expense at that.
But then again, you are getting a whole lot more prestige, similar to the way you pay a lot more for a sports car.
Don't get us wrong, we're not shilling for BMW. It's just that the X4 is a luxury product, and if such things made complete sense, they probably wouldn't be as desirable now, would they?