Sports SUVs are taking the world by storm, and we wouldn’t be doing our part if we didn’t jump behind the wheel of one of the best to investigate what it is customers find so appealing about these slopey roof vehicles. On paper, they still confuse us from both a practicality and versatility perspective, but there’s no denying their ability to attract attention through good looks and sporty performance. But, just how different do they drive? And why would you buy one over their full-size brother?
With a route planned for the weekend that included a stop through the Hunter Valley and a detour home via the infamous Putty Road, we were surely going to test the 2022 BMW X4 xDrive30i in all environments and find out for ourselves.
|2022 BMW X4 xDrive30i Specifications|
|Engine||2.0-litre inline 4-Cylinder|
|Power||185kW @ 5,200-6,500|
|Torque||350 @ 1,450-4,800|
|Fuel consumption||7.9 litres/100 km (Combined)|
BMW X4 xDrive30i Review – A Day Trip from Sydney
Where Does the X4 xDrive30i Sit in the Range?
The performance specifications quoted above give you a gentle understanding of where the xDrive30i sits in the new X4 range. While at first a little misleading (“30i” used to indicated 6-cylinder power) you’ll now have to spend a little more to get your hands on the legendary B58 motor as it’s only found in the M40i. As it stands, the xDrive30i sits above a less powerful ’20i’ option, but that model is relatively underpowered (135Kw) for most applications and in our eyes barely suits the purpose of a ‘sporty’ SUV.
How Does the xDrive30i Drive?
Our mission with the X4 was not to test how nice it was to scoot around the city, but rather how well it could cruise on the freeway and handle a few back roads on a day trip from Sydney. In our eyes, this should be the cars natural habitat and without kids in the back or screaming friends, the ultimate goal was to understand if you can actually enjoy taking a few twisties and maybe even ‘have fun’ doing it. More on that later.
We ventured up the M1 Freeway towards the Hunter Valley wine region without ever putting our foot down or asking anything ‘sporty’ from the car. That would come later, but for now, it was all about the cruising potential. Sow how did it go?
While you might think the X4 is simply a dressed-up version of the X3, the sharing of platform doesn’t tell the full story. All BMW X4s are equipped with the ‘M Sport Package’ as standard that adds a few stylish bits to the exterior, interior and plenty of ‘M’ badging, but you also get an adaptive suspension, a cost option on the X3 that keeps it a little more sedate. Around town, the suspension rides a touch firm even when placed in its ‘comfiest’ setting, but on the open road, it provides another level of surefootedness perfect for the freeway.
Overtaking is a breeze with the 185KW motor and giving it the odd punch to merge or overtake is met with a little induction noise from the turbo, the tiniest amount of lag, and practically zero exhaust noise. Something that’s nice to stop you from looking like a tool bag, but something we’d wish was more apparent when driving spirited.
What’s it Like on the Inside?
How the car drives on the freeway is just one factor to consider when road tripping a vehicle. Maybe the biggest factor to take into account is how comfortable it is and the features you have access to, luckily, one look at the badge on the steering wheel and you realise you’re in a BMW – so all is well.
The midlife facelift shares most of the architecture with the previous generation, enhanced by features such as the new BMW Live Cockpit Professional featuring two high-resolution 12.3″ displays for the central control display as well as the instrument cluster. Pretty much identical to those you find in all-new high-end models the displays are crystal clear, and when combined with wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto it’s a slick and quick unit (fullscreen integration for both).
The centre screen is a touchscreen unit, but we found ourselves using the console-mounted dial to navigate when cruising on the freeway, that way you always focus on the road ahead and not where your finger is pointing.
Once you reach your destination, Parking Assistant Plus comes in handy for convenient maneuvering. More often than not you’re going to be a little tired after a 3-hour journey, so the surround view system really helps with Top View, Panorama View, Remote 3D View, Lateral View, and emergency braking so you don’t hit anything. This might be the easiest car to park on the planet, we’re not kidding.
Technology aside, the sports front seats are electronically controlled and manually adjustable to hone in on your perfect driving position. Electronically adjusted bolstering keeps sporty drives engaging and comfortable, but dialling it back for freeway cruising is a neat party trick. Galvanised embellishments add a premium touch to areas such as the steering wheel, door control panel, and door lock switches. They offset the black and red theme of our press car particularly well.
The majority of the touchpoints on the interior are wrapped in leather, the steering wheel is very comfortable for travelling with a good cushion, but some of the plastics are surprisingly hard to the touch. Make no mistake, they feel solid, but we were underwhelmed with the material choice along the dashboard upper and central air conditioning surrounds. Sometimes manufacturers get a little cheeky and skip out on these areas, but we didn’t expect it in the $100,000+ AUD X4. Maybe the only downside for us on the entire car.
Just How Sporty is the BMW X4?
The sports SUV segment is growing by the month as customers realise the potential in a vehicle that can pretty much do it all. It’s a hotly contested segment where cars have to achieve everything and remind the driver why they opted for a slightly less practical vehicle every time they step behind the wheel. Did the X4 fit the bill?
Short answer: Yes.
We weren’t able to get our hands on the range-topping X4M or M40i models this time around, but the xDrive30i is the model most buyers will opt for and it’s by no means short on power or engagement. With a 0-100km/h time in the low 6-seconds, it steps into hot-hatch territory for speed and when you consider the size and weight of the vehicle it’s more than happy to be chucked around through a few bends.
After jumping off the freeway and stopping at a few wineries to top up the cellar we headed home via the infamous ‘Putty Road’. Coming from Milbrodale, the road winds its way through Howes Valley, the perfect spot to check out the X4’s Variable Sport Steering. Electronically assisted as most modern vehicles are, the steering was very light around town, but we were worried it would be a little analogue through the twisties. Flicking the drive mode from Comfort to Sport immediately tightens up the suspension and steering response. It’s heavier, more direct, and although it’s electronically assisted you know exactly where the front wheels are at all times.
Body roll in sport mode is reduced and the car uses its trick xDrive system to help tuck the nose in on hairpins. Even at moderate speeds, the tires did quite a bit of talking to let you know just how far you’re pushing the envelope, and the slick 8-speed transmission was smart enough to keep us in the powerband without using the flappy paddles. If anything, it was a little hard to manually select gears as there’s practically no exhaust or engine note to go off, you find yourself reliant on the heads-up display, which has an RPM gauge shown in sport.
Should You Buy the BMW X4?
While it’s by no means a ‘sports car’ in the traditional sense the X4 more than fulfils its brief as a sports SUV. Quick enough in a straight line, competent when asked to tackle a few bends, and comfortable enough for longer journeys. If you take the long way home you’ll be rewarded with a fun driving experience that sacrifices only a little space in the rear. We weren’t the biggest fan of the ride around the city, some of the materials and plastics on the interior were a little too hard and scratchy for BMW standards, and the exhaust note was inaudible and missing, but it’s a fantastic product that reminds you exactly why these are so popular on the market.
It’s perfect for someone with a family, who loves the look, and wants to enjoy themselves should the opportunity present itself. The features on the inside tie the entire experience together and you’ll absolutely love the parking experience, seamless phone mirroring, and responsive controls.
Our press vehicle came in at around $105,000 AUD plus on-road costs, but you could bring that down considerably without the sunroof ($4154 AUD), but we highly recommend opting for the Comfort Package that adds lumbar support for the driver and steering wheel heating ($912 AUD).
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