If BMW is aiming to offer a vehicle to fit just about anyone’s desire, things are going well.
You can have the two-door 2-Series as a convertible or hardtop with a turbo-four or a turbo-six cylinder in either two or four wheel drive. Going up to four doors, you can have the 3-Series as a wagon, sedan or a sedan with a fastback roof and even more engine choices, including diesel.
If something bigger would better suit your needs, consider the 4 or 5-Series. Really want to make an impression? How about the imposing 7-Series or 8-Series coupe?
If you’re looking for a car that’s a bit greener than the snarling 8-Series, consider the practical i3, or if you want supercar performance that won’t empty the wallet at gas stations, there’s the i8 in both hardtop and Roadster versions.
Fancy a traditional roadster? Well, there’s the Z4.
Want the practicality of a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6-Series with sport tuning? There’s an M version for that.
And then there is BMW’s SUVs and crossovers. You can have your choice between a compact, two-liter, front-wheel drive X1 or the roomier X6 with a 4.4-liter V8 with all-wheel drive and seemingly everything in between.
If sir desires an X3 but wants a sloping roofline, right smack in the middle of the SUV/crossover range is the X4, which BMW calls a “Sports Activity Coupe.”
The SAC enters its second gen in 2019, now a bit bigger but also lighter (stop laughing).
The wheelbase, length and width of the X4 have all been extended slightly but overall the weight has decreased by 110 pounds.
The mid-sized crossover also sports a new look. The classic BMW kidney grille is larger and imposing on the front while the roofline cuts to the rear more dramatically in the updated version.
Overall, the exterior styling provides a much more exciting crossover to view and more fluent that the first gen, but with the sloping roofline and practically vertical rear, the X4 still looks a bit like a fastback clog shoe.
The interior styling, mostly taken from the X3, is exquisite.
Every knob, button and lever felt substantial and well-made. There were also visually pleasing aspects such as adjustable ambient lighting and an “X” embossed on electroplated surfaces of the doors. The optional red Vernasca leather in my test version also made for a striking interior coupled with the metallic trim and black knobs.
The 10.25-inch infotainment screen is now freestanding on the 2019 model and serves as the display for BMW’s iDrive system.
Major features such as audio and navigation are easily accessible, either through the iDrive controller or adjacent buttons. However, diving further into the system can be tricky with an array of submenus. Realigning the head-up display or changing the color of the ambient lighting can be an exercise in patience.
The X4 now comes with gesture control which allows you to adjust the volume, audio channel or answer the phone with hand movements. While it was relatively easy to switch channels, I had trouble with any other function and appeared as if I was karate chopping an invisible villain on the dashboard. I felt the tech was superfluous and gimmicky given these tasks are easily accomplished with the X4’s intuitive knobs and buttons.
Despite the outward appearance of the fastback, the X4 does not crunch the neck of rear passengers. While my head (and I’m 5-foot-10) ever so slightly touched the roof while sitting up completely straight, there was a surprising amount of headroom, though of course we are not talking the Sistine Chapel here. My legs also had room to stretch.
While the roofline may not cause any major troubles for those of average height, it does mean there is extremely limited visibility through the rear window.
The sloped roof also cuts down on cargo space but the X4 still has 18.5-cubic feet on the rear deck with added storage underneath. BMW also provides tethers than slide to keep things in place when needed.
The rear seats fold flat automatically with the pull of a lever and are erected easily from the rear passenger area.
Continuing the BMW theme of making a car for every need, the X4 offers two engines, both powering all four wheels. The xDrive30i I tested comes with a two-liter, twin-turbo four cylinder while the M40i has a 3-liter, twin-turbo inline six.
The 30i’s turbo four was plenty peppy for everyday driving and average fuel consumption with a combined 25 mpg. Other than a noticeable hesitation on throttle tip-in, the two-liter gave me no complaints.
For every day jaunts, the X4’s ride is relaxing in comfort mode even with standard run-flat tires on the 19-inch wheels.
Put the 30i in sport mode and the power plant becomes lively and paddle shifters allow you to have more control with quick gear changes. That said, the eight-speed automatic was not flustered in sport mode and kept the revs high on downshifts.
That proved beneficial when trying to see if the sport activity coupe lives up to the sport designation.
With standard Variable Sport Steering — which adjusts the steering ration depending on daily or spirited driving — along with BMW’s all-wheel drive system and a solid but comfortable suspension, the 30i was surprisingly nimble and planted while traversing the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
While these features kept body roll to a minimum and gave me the confidence to power through tight undulations despite the girth of the X4, it was also disappointing when I was after some added, non-traditional fun.
I took the X4 to the skid-pad at Atlanta Motorsports Park and struggled to easily get the BMW and its intelligent all-wheel drive system spinning in circles, which is what I wanted to do rather than the skid-pad’s original intent — helping you learn to car control. Of course this a good thing should you encounter soaking road and would rather not spin out.
The 30i starts at just over $50,000 with the top package, the Executive Tier, bumping the price up by $6,000. The tier includes surround view, parking assist, full LED lighting, ambient lighting, a digital instrument cluster, head-up display, heated steering wheel and gesture control. The X4 comes in nine colors, however, all but Jet Black and Alpine White are a $550 extra.
The Driving Assistance Plus Package ($1,700) includes active cruise control, lane keep assist, side collision avoidance and other safety features.
Overall, the X4 is comfortable, relatively practical and does live up to the designation of a sport activity coupe.
But if it’s not exactly what you were after, don’t leave the BMW dealership too quick. Because there is likely something there that will suit your needs in the brand’s ever-expanding lineup.