There are some who will, and rightfully so, question the need for an SUV-coupe—in BMW’s nomenclature a Sports Activity Coupe—to exist.
But we’re willing to concede that these people are automotive traditionalists, and for the most part, they don’t make up a large portion of the general car-buying population. There is ostensibly a huge number of people who are in need of a big, high-riding car that also has a healthy amount of sporty styling thrown in.
Otherwise how else would you explain the existence of the X2 that slots in below the X4 and the X6 that sits atop the BMW Sports Activity Coupe pile? Only time will tell if there will be an X8 to join the recently launched X7, but we’re not betting against that possibility.
Or the fact that the genre has been going strong since 2008, going on to spawn a host of pretenders keen to get in on the action in the form of the Audi Q8 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe and GLE Coupe, amongst others.
Or that buyers are willing to pay a premium for the luxury of sleeker styling (around SGD20,000 in the case of the X4 over the X3), a smaller boot and compromised visibility. But we will concede that the X4 handles in a more tidy fashion than the X3, which objectively speaking is some feat. Given that the X3 already was no slouch there.
The steering in the X4 is astonishingly good. Meaty with pinpoint accuracy, and done through a satisfying, thick rimmed, leather-upholstered wheel. You always know where the front wheels are and what they’re doing, which makes the X4 extremely easy to place in corners.
Add to that how little inertia the car seems to have in the corners, which again, is amazing since it’s a car that weighs a hair under 1.8 tonnes and stands 1.6m tall.
And its drivetrain. Oh wow, its drivetrain.
We’ve always maintained it’ll be a dark day if BMW makes a lacklustre power train, but thankfully today is not that day. Well, there was a time in the late 2010s when it lost its way for a model generation, but thankfully it’s found its mojo again recently.
So the engine in the X4 is a two-litre turbo unit with 252hp that gets the car from 0-100km/h in 6.3 seconds. Decent enough, but the real gem is its gearbox, an eight-speed automatic, though it does try its level best to not feel like a standard torque converter auto.
Shifts are snappy whether going up or down the ratios and its directness is great, too. The transmission hooks up immediately with no slush.
But of course, there’s a trade-off for all that handling ability. The biggest being its ride quality. Against the X3, the X4 jostles a good deal more and the suspension constantly seems to be pattering. It never quite settles the way it does on the X3.
And that gearbox that’s so quick on the uptake, the downside to that is it’s almost impossible to drive smoothly at low speeds.
Munich giveth, Munich taketh away.
Of course, not everyone is willing to put up with the X4, with its compromised practicality and lower ride quality. But then again, the X4 enjoys a status as a niche product that really isn’t for everybody. This also means that when buyers are convinced, they’re really convinced.
They don’t care that the price premium will cost them two-thirds of a new COE, or that the boot’s load sill is higher, or that its equipment list is virtually identical to the X3, or even that you can’t really see out the rear window.
What you’re essentially paying (quite a lot) more for is a car that has better styling. Not essentially a bad thing, but again this is not a car for the people who ask “is this the right car for me”, but for those who ask bigger questions like “when can I get it delivered to me”.
ENGINE 1,998cc, 16-valves, inline-four, turbocharged
POWER 252hp at 5,200-6,500rpm
TORQUE 350Nm at 1,450-4,800rpm
0-100KM/HR 6.3 seconds
TOP SPEED 240km/hr
TRANSMISSION Eight-speed automatic
FUEL CONSUMPTION 7.8L/100km
VES BAND C1 ($10,000 surcharge)
PRICE $269,888 (including COE, excluding options)