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First Drive: 2015 BMW X4 xDrive 35i M Sport Review by Henny Hemmes +VIDEO

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2015 BMW X4 xDrive 35i M Sport

     • SEE ALSO: BMW Buyers Guide

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

BILBAO, Spain - May 22, 2014: BMW is expanding its X-family with the totally new X4. The production model was unveiled at the New York auto show, just a year after the debut of the Concept.

• SEE ALSO: BMW X4 Set to Debut at 2014 NY Auto Show

The X4 is the fifth model of the BMW X-line up of SAVs (sports activity vehicles), that was launched in 1999 with the X5. With a stake of some 30 per cent of BMW’s total sales, the X-models are very important. From 1999 until last April, 3.2 million units have been sold. The family of all-wheel drive BMWs will be expanded by the X7, probably at the end of 2016, after the capacity of the plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, has been expanded.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2015 BMW X4 xDrive 35i M Sport

Earlier this week, the new X4 was available for the first group of automotive journalists to test drive in the area around Bilbao, a nice town in northern Spain. The fact that the hotel is situated opposite the Guggenheim museum is no coincidence, as it was the subject of an academic dissertation written by Karim Habib, design chief of BMW Automobiles. He is responsible for the design of the X4 and looked really happy with the result. “The X4 takes on the X6, which was the first SAC (sports activity coupe) with coupe-typical lines in the X-world.”

The X4 is like a shrunken X6; it is built on the platform of the 3 series, just like the X6 uses that of the 5 series. All components are identical to those of the ‘3 ‘, only the body is different. Also the engines are taken from the 3 Series warehouse.

We drove the top version, the xDrive35i with M Sport package. The X4 model that will be available on the North American market is the 240 hp strong xDrive28i, which is also a TwinPower turbo engine. Like all BMW X-models the X4 comes standard with xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive.

With its 300 hp 3.0-liter six cylinder motor, the X4 is absolutely fun-to-drive. The engine is lively and there's no need to paddle shift the (optional) 8-speed Steptronic transmission in order to have a véry sporty drive. The X4 does not feel like an SUV, the body hardly moves in tight bends and the springs/dampers are well set to handle high cornering speeds.

The X4 may be a technical blue print of the X3 and is 14 mm longer, its roof is 0.55 inches lower, while thanks to the M Sport Package, the suspension is closer to the ground by 0.4 in.

We drove our X4 mainly in Sport+, just to enjoy the capabilities of the new Bimmer. It also means that the ESP is disconnected. But no sweat, we never had one hairy moment on the winding mountain roads. The car really can handle a sporty push on the throttle! The engine’s high torque (295 pound-feet) is available between 1,200 and 5,000 rpm. It indeed makes the X4 a very nice and supple machine that can be driven both in an energetic manner or a more relaxed style when your mind-set is more laid back in order to better enjoy the country views (the Sport and Comfort settings are the ones to select). If you want to save fuel, there is also Eco Pro. Anyway, the X4 xDrive 35i accelerates in 5.5 seconds from zero to 62 mph and reaches a top speed of 153 mph.

The interior is nicely executed with high quality materials, while the M Sport package adds some nice stitching and embossed logos to the leather seats. We are used to BMWs excellent ergonomics and the X4 is not different.

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My only questionable comment is that if you are about my height (5 ft 6 in) and don't like sitting in the highest position, you'll find that the huge outside mirror in combination with the fat A-pillar blocks the view on road crossings. It is not new problem, since the regulations require the large size, but it should be an issue that manufacturers bring to the attention of the regulators both in Europe and in the US.

The X4 has a wheelbase of 110.6 inches, is 181.9 in. long, 74.05 in. wide and 63.92 in. height. The luggage compartment takes 17.6 cubic feet, or 49.4 cu.ft. with the rear seat backrests folded down. Both X4 models for the US market can handle a maximum trailer load of 5,291 pounds.

The X4 will reach BMW dealers in the US and Europe on July 12 and then other markets around the world on August 9. The X4 xDrive28i has an MSRP of $ 45,625 (including destination and handling), the price of the X4 xDrive35i is $ 48,925.