2016 BMW X4 xDrive 35d Test Drive. Well-Mannered Rhino
Naughty diesel goes to etiquette school
Beauty contests are not the BMW X4's favorite thing, although the Bavarian SAC won't say no to a powerlifting session, especially the xDrive 35d model we tested.
So, we got to try out a downsized X6 built on the same platform as the solid X3, fitted with an oil burner that's too powerful for the car's purpose. Here's what we found out.
Recommended for:familiesseniorsyoung and single
Created for:highwaysurban driving
Hats off for:luggage spaceengine power
Bang for the buck:forget about it
Tornado. I can't think of a better word to describe what's sitting between the driver and the X4's elephantine front end.
With 230 kW (313 hp) and 630 Nm of torque waiting to crack your collarbone from as low as 1.500 rpm, the 3.0-liter diesel engine feels like you've been appointed as the manager of a buffalo stampede.
It's an alluring engine, whose six cylinders hum like a squadron of drones whenever you hit the gas and pushes your chest towards the seat's backrest as if you were getting CPR from a Hulk-sized David Hasselhoff.
There's power flowing towards the asphalt with every gear shift, and the eight-speed auto gearbox keeps the engine's manners in check. It's also a blast to pound the throttle from a standstill, as the X4 35d can take you to 100 km/h in just 5.2 seconds, so you're always two seconds away from bagging a speed ticket.
I would have expected more feedback from the steering, which I didn't get with the X4 35d. You're not getting enough feedback on how the tires' contact patches interact with the asphalt, although the level of steering precision is what you'd expect from a BMW and makes for easy navigation through a compressed landscape.
Go enthusiastic on the X4, and you'll unlock loads of grip, and while the car won't complain as it tries to remain stuck to the ground, you'll feel the electronics struggling to preserve your body's integrity.
This is also a reminder that the BMW X4 35d, a 1.9-ton (1.940 kg) box with a sloping roof feels like home only on the open road or around the city, where it doesn't need that much testosterone under the hood to get the job done.
What you want on your X4 are the adaptive dampers, quite necessary since the standard wheel size stands at 18-inch. Our tester came with 19-inch alloys which translated in a bumpy ride over poor surfaces, although the suspension setup aims to deliver the best of two worlds: the X4 is less stiff than the Porsche Macan, yet not as soft and comfy as the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé.
The X4 is yet to go through the Euro NCAP safety trials, but the X3 which it shares underpinnings with got five out of five stars, so we wouldn't be wrong to assume the X4 could match the score.
Every BMW X4 comes with front and side driver and passenger airbags, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and run-flat tires. Optionally, you can tick the adaptive headlights and approach warning boxes - with the latter being part of the also-optional Driving Assistant package.
Those who sit up front will get good lateral support and a comfy posture, although the seats feel a tad too hard for my taste.
On the backseat, things don't look too good when it comes to headroom, and the angle between the seat and backrest will have taller people sitting with their knees in an upward position with added pressure on the lower back.
Although you sit lower than in the BMW X3, there's good visibility towards the car's front and sides, but the narrow rear window limits the perspective towards what's behind the car.
The X3 gusto is spottable all around the cabin so those familiar with this model will have no reason to act surprised upon entering the X4.
Typical BMW offerings in this department mean materials are on par with the brand's reputation, with soft plastics and quality materials.
My only complaint is the outdated cabin design which looks more of a 2010, 2011 choice rather than a contemporary notion.
Storage spaces are up for the job of housing personal belongings like smartphones, water bottles, and whatnot, while the 500-liter trunk will swallow two large pieces of luggage and one or two average-sized backpacks and bags.
The X4 uses BMW's latest iDrive infotainment system which is a no-nonsense approach thanks to clean graphics, intuitive menus, and glitch-free behavior making for one of the most straightforward choices in the segment.
The consumption figure advertised by BMW has nothing to do with reality so take your mind off the 6 l/100 km in the combined cycle, because you'll have to do with an average of 10 l/100 km and CO2 emissions worth of 157 g/km.
Every X4 35d comes fitted with a sports leather steering wheel which can be upgraded to a BMW M-style one with the M package. Furthermore, the eight-speed auto Steptronic transmission is also a standard offering on the 35d version, just like the Driving Experience Control (with its Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes) and the DSC system.
Also standard is the single-zone automatic air conditioning setup, while optional equipment includes the PDC (Park Distance Control) system, a head-up display (HUD), the storage package bundle with net, hooks and rails for the trunk and the surround view camera.
Besides being the elephant in the room and showing debatable design cues, the BMW X4 35d gets the job done with no fuss.
However, the grunt-packing 35d version simply feels too much at times so you might be better off with the 20d model in terms of acquisition and running costs.
Speaking of which, in Germany, the BMW X4 35d starts at €61,800, but our tester wore optionals worth the better part of €19,000, for a total tally of €80,849. The less demanding 20d starts at €48,200, so if you're stuck on diesels, this alternative provides a slightly manageable investment.