Car reviews - BMW - X4 - xDrive35d
Effortless torque, surprising agility, sumptuous cabin, promised efficiency
Room for improvement
Divisive design, confined rear space and shallower cargo area compared to donor X3, expensive options
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29 Jan 2016
BMW’S recent revelation that the 265kW/465Nm M40i high-performance flagship version of the successful X4 won’t be coming to Australia due to a lack of right-hand-drive production may be disappointing news to M SUV fans – and there are a high number of you out there it seems – but we’re here to tell you that you should cry in your Starbucks Caffe Misto Grande no more.
The advent of the xDrive35d, with its 630Nm of stump-tugging torque, makes the M40i redundant.
Think about that… 630Nm – that’s 165Nm (or almost a Corolla’s total amount of) more pulling power, in a car that would probably cost well over $120K (instead of under $90K) if it wore the famous BMW tuning arm’s tri-colour badge. The 35kW of extra power that the xDrive35d concedes to the M40i would be, in our experience, pretty academic. It’s the ability to overcome turning resistance that’s key here.
If you’ve never driven an X4, even the most basic 2.0-litre turbo-diesel version will surprise you with its very car-like dynamics – the upshot of being loosely based on the 3 Series platform. So is the X3 that begat it, of course, but the coupe-SUV version sits a bit lower, and so feels more hunkered down to the ground.
Anyway, we reckon the xDrive35d is probably the sweet spot between grand touring comfort and sub-M SUV performance, because this vehicle’s standard adaptive dampers do quite a lot to help smooth out the rough roads that big-wheeled BMWs without it bump and crash over. Over the beautiful rural roads around the Dandenong Ranges, leading back to the outer ‘burbs of Melbourne, the newcomer’s ride quality felt sufficiently compliant.
That the xDrive35d’s tied-down chassis, with its constant all-wheel drive, can handle all that torque without breaking traction or going sideways in the rain is a credit to the Bavarian engineers, who have made this brutally fast SUV behave just so civilised. It came as a surprise to us, because there is a thuggishly menacing aura to this car that belies the sophistication lurking underneath. Yep, we revelled at its instantaneously effortless acceleration, beautifully weighted and measured handling, and unshakable road-holding. Even in squally rain, the xDrive35d feels impervious.
Downsides? Well, can you deal with the overbearing styling? There’s a fair bit of road noise droning through over some of our coarser-chip surfaces. Rear-seat headroom is limited for adults. And while BMW equips its bolshie SUV surprisingly well, kitting it out with options requires very deep pockets.
Having said all that, in the scheme of things, for the performance, refinement, security, and even fuel economy on offer, the xDrive35d represents something approaching value for money… especially considering how much the M40i would have cost.
So fret no longer, M fans. If you’re hankering for a performance coupe-SUV, the flagship X4 walks the walk and talks the torque.
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