Give this crossover craze another year or two and high-riding crossover limos will likely be off-loading dizzy, glittery celebs at the Academy Awards.
Why not? A few years ago, as you may recall, Nissan introduced a crossover convertible that lingered on the market for a couple of years before mercifully fading away.
So, BMW may just be trying to stay ahead of that quirky, unconventional curve with the restyled X4, a crossover-coupe thing missing its rear quarters.
The whole idea was to make the X4 sporty with a tad less bulk and slightly sharper handling than the X3, the mainstream compact crossover based on the 3-series sedan.
OK. I don’t want to water down the vodka-spiked punch at the crossover Christmas party, but why not just buy a 3-series sedan if you want sporty?
Oh, well. The dark gray X4 I had – technically an XDrive 30i – looked a bit odd, but packed a certain Starbucks suburban ferocity into its all-wheel-drive envelope.
Scowling headlamps, for instance, squeezed a pair of signature kidney-shaped grilles, topped by a long, powerful hood.
Short overhangs front and rear, and a deep character line through the restyled X4’s lightly muscular sides gave it a distinctly BMW look.
Meanwhile, a curving coupe-ish top slid into a flat hatchback that looked kind of clumsy, but was more attractive than the one on the X4’s profoundly strange big brother, the X6.
Like the X6, the $62,000 X4 sat kind of high but rolled on car-style 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped with 245-45 tires.
Admittedly, I often wondered: Was I driving a high-riding car or a crossover in drag?
Beats me, but my all-wheel-drive X4 – powered by the standard turbocharged 2-liter four with 248 horsepower – performed like a feisty, somewhat bulky car.
Although the little four had to contend with 4,200 pounds of weight, it bounded away from stops with a nice burst of torque, running hard with a subdued growl to 50 or so.
Above 50, the engine kind of flattened out, but it still pulled well enough to sprint to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, according to Car and Driver, and cruised easily at 80.
Aided by a well-sorted 8-speed automatic, the X4 is capable of 25 miles per gallon overall fuel economy – a possible consideration if you’re weighing the merits of the $10,000 higher price for a six-cylinder version of the X4.
Though the X4’s steering was thick, it was quick and precise, giving the “coupe”-crossover decent agility in traffic.
If I really pushed hard around corners, however, it stumbled some, tripped up a little by body lean.
Most of the time, the X4 handled freeways or two-lane back-roads with typical BMW confidence.
Of course, with its firmer springs and dampers, the X4 rode pretty aggressively, clomping over bad sections of road.
Fortunately, its dark-red interior filtered much of that mild irritation out.
Like many BMWs, a 10.25-inch iPad-shaped touchscreen dominated the car’s smooth black-plastic dashboard.
Beneath it, two slender horizontal panels contained most of the controls for the audio and climate systems. I say most because the audio system had to be tuned through the screen, a set-up that invites distraction.
Take solace, I guess, that somewhere in there were enhanced smartphone connectivity, as well as Apple CarPlay compatibility.
Moreover, with the touchscreen mounted high on the mid-dash and the audio and climate controls in separate panels below it, BMW avoided the need for a clumsy center-stack.
Meanwhile, a broad console trimmed in piano black and silver complemented the X4’s dark-red leather seats, which featured sectioned and pleated centers and subtle stitching on the bolsters.
They matched door panels that had dark-red padded centers and armrests.
While back-seat passengers may have to duck to get through the rear doors because of the slinky curving top, they will find good leg- and head-room in back once they get in.
Even with its truncated rear, the Bimmer sports 19 cubic feet of cargo space that easily swallowed a week’s worth of groceries with space left over.
My X4 had roughly $10,000 in options, including the red-leather interior, $1,700; a convenience package, $1,000; a driving assistance package, $1,700; and a premium package, $1,600.
If you like different, the distinctive X4 offers good performance and handling, a nice dash of luxury and surprising fuel economy.
And if it stands out a bit on the parking lot, at least you should be able to find it in the sea of crossovers there – just like my old-school car.
2019 BMW X4 xDrive 30i
- What I liked most: The X4’s sharp responses and composed handling, which were almost as good as a car’s.
- What I would change: If the X4 wants to be truly sporty, it needs a base 2-liter engine with more zest than the standard 248-horsepower.
- MSRP: Base price, $50,450; as equipped, $61,545.
- Official color: Dark Graphite Metallic.
- Fuel economy: 22 miles per gallon in the city, 29 on the highway and 25 mpg combined with filler on the right.
- Odometer reading when tested: 6,674 miles.
- Spare tire: None – run-flat tires.
- Weight: 4,191 pounds.
- Length-width-height: 187.5 inches long/75.5 inches wide/63.8 inches tall.
- Fuel-tank capacity: 17.2 gallons.
- Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds.
- 2019 BMW X4 XDrive 30i in a few words: An unusual but useful “coupe” variant of a compact crossover.
- Warranty: Four-year, 60,000-mile overall warranty
- Final assembly location: Spartanburg, S.C.
- Manufacturer’s website: www.bmwusa.com
- E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Up next: 2020 Kia Soul GT