The Guggenheim museum here is playing host to a show by none other than the former Mrs. Lennon, Yoko Ono, who fancies herself an artist. Her art isn’t exactly what you’d consider for mass consumption; mass confusion would be the kindest words I can offer. Of course, I’m no art critic.
But I am a car critic, and I find BMW’s new X4 only slightly less confusing than Yoko’s creativity. Because once again, the German company has come up with something we didn’t know we needed: a four-door, mid-sized coupe crossover. The X4 continues the design ethos of the X6 that debuted in 2008, so if you like that, you’ll love its little brother.
However, like avant-garde art, not everyone finds it appealing, as it continues that awkward melding of a sports car and SUV. But neither is the X3, on which the X4 is based, ugly. So why take a perfectly good crossover, cut a steep slope into the roof for less headroom and terrible rear-view visibility, and charge more for it?
Because, says BMW, the X4 is for extroverted people who like to be seen and talked about. And it expects people will buy them. Well, okay, then. If you are in the market for a mid-sized luxury crossover (sorry, Sports Activity Coupe), and you like to be noticed, you’re in luck; two versions of the X4 will be available in Canada in July: the X4 xDrive28i, with a 247-hp, 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, and the X4 xDrive35i, with a 300-hp, 3.0-litre inline-six; both engines are twin-turboed.
We took the more powerful version on a twisty mountain drive north and around the Spanish shoreline. The 3.0-litre is a screamer, punching the car up to 100 km/h in 5.2 seconds. That’s even more amazing when you consider the portly curb weight of 1,932 kilograms. Sport mode proved best for this, as there is a slight but discernible throttle lag in Comfort.
And it performs well in the corners, but that’s only after considering its heft; this is certainly no sports car. Especially in Comfort, it has a tick too much roll. And though the tire grip is there, there is a slight vagueness in the electric steering that makes it difficult to find the car’s limits.
The sloping roof means the X4 has less cargo space than the X3; it’s hard to say who would want a car with less practicality and higher cost than the crossover on which it’s based.
But then again, BMW did sell more than 250,000 X6s worldwide, so what do we know?
The writer was a guest of the auto maker.
2015 BMW X4 xDrive35i
Base price: $54,950
Engine: 3.0-litre, twin-turbocharged inline-six
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 8.7 city; 12.5 highway
Alternatives: BMW X3, Audi Q3, Porsche Macan, Range Rover Evoque
You will like this car if: You’re a young executive needing space but are desperate for a sports car.
It sports the usual BMW austere elegance in decor, and the car is packed with electronic features.
The 3.0-litre offers plenty of power, but the steering is vague and suspension in Comfort mode is too soft.
It’s loaded with air bags and just about every electronic safety system you can think of. Both models also feature all-wheel drive.
While not exactly small, the room behind the seats of the X4 is less than that of the X3.
BMW’s iDrive is much improved and easier to use.
6.5 - While the X4 is distinctive and offers a luxury ride, you can buy an X3 with more room for less, or a Porsche Macan with better performance.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the model name of the vehicle. It is the X4 xDrive 35i.