2022 BMW X4 first drive review: Rare breed
It’s an established fact now, the SUV-coupe isn’t easy on the eye. Kind of like the international equivalent to the sub-4 metre sedan segment. But like the sub-4 metre sedan, the SUV-coupe formula works for every manufacturer making one, which is why so many years into the birth of this style, this shape still clocks in the numbers. The second generation of the X4 has been facelifted, which means there is a new car to test for us journalists and report about the cosmetic changes. Typical stuff like a new grille, redesigned bumpers, refreshed interior, slimmer headlights, the refreshed X4 does look a tad better than before. The changes are in line with the facelifted X3 that the X4 is based on.
However, what floats our boat is the 3-litre inline six diesel engine under the hood of the X4.
It straddles this rarefied world of above 2-litre diesel engines that are under the Rs 1 crore mark (only offered on other BMWs like the 5 Series and 6 GT). Even the X3 doesn’t come with the 3-litre diesel, making it a very clear BMW India strategy to offer its mid-range sporty vehicles with a fast diesel engine for enthusiasts willing to pay that little bit extra for a faster, sportier diesel over the slightly slower and far more thirsty petrol X4.
Sit in the familiar driver’s seat of any BMW and almost every control is muscle memory by now. I lower the seat a bit, inspired by the coupe roofline. Had it been the X3, a commanding higher-up seating position would be my pick. Click Sport Plus on the drive mode selector, turn the traction control fully off, step on the brake and accelerator and let go of the brakes. The X4 squats stressing the rear shocks under a huge surge of torque – 620Nm can give quite the kick – spins the 275 section rear Bridgestones a bit before finding grip and launching forward. The long bonnet raises up while the rear squats and soon settles to a quick 80kmph when the first speed warning sounds. When you’re driving on a closed road, the speed warning doesn’t matter, so I ride the torque surge as the 8-speed torque converter runs through the gears.
The turn of pace is fairly rapid in the diesel X4 that every time you squeeze the throttle pedal a little more than at cruising pace, there’s a noticeable rear squat, a slight shove in the seat and a quick overtake. The diesel makes similar power figures compared to the petrol, 261bhp to 248bhp in the petrol, however it’s the extra 270Nm of torque that gives this car its sporty credentials. It makes this diesel X4 fun to drive in the city as much as it does out on the highway or the occasional smooth gravel road. Running 20-inch wheels with 40 section tyres do restrict the X4’s ability when the tarmac ends, but then again, that’s not part of a regular drive for an X4 owner.
As it has always been, the X4 corners well. The lower CG compared to an X3 allows for more spirited handling. The standard sports seats hold you well and there isn’t any pronounced body roll to make you ease off. While it is rear biassed, the xDrive AWD system keeps any amateur move in check and without much drama, you devour the corner. The X4 can do this all day making it an ideal SUV-coupe for a roadtrip.
It’s a rare breed now when the world is shifting to a petrol-electric diet, and in the coming years, such powerful diesels will only get rarer in India. Diesel fuel isn’t going anywhere though. A majority of our commercial vehicles will be diesel powered for the foreseeable future. With most passenger cars shifting to either petrol or electric, the price of diesel isn’t going to skyrocket. The current pressure on pricing is a clear strategy to wane off diesel car purchases. We have already seen over 75 percent of new car sales shifting to petrol powered cars. However, when you pay Rs 72.5 lakh ex-showroom for a car, slightly higher prices at the pump for a year or two won’t hurt. Eventually we will see lower diesel prices since the price of diesel is directly related to inflation in the country. Nothing brings more certainty than politics!
Now picture that world when you are sipping on commercial fuel in the 3-litre diesel X4 and driving faster than most cars around you. Isn’t that a pretty sight?