Rumours started floating around in May 2017 that BMW was gearing up to refresh its X4 sport activity vehicle (their term, not ours) for the 2018 model year, but that speculation proved off the mark: BMW has revealed the latest version of this compact utility, and it is entirely a carry-over from the 2017 model.
Not that we're surprised: BMW has a tendency not to rush into redesigns, and if we're being honest, we actually like the look of the X4, especially next to its bloated big sibling, the X6.
This type of rakish utility vehicle is popular among upscale manufacturers eager to attract buyers who like certain elements of SUV design -- higher seating position and ground clearance, for instance -- but want something that looks more adventurous. The X4 also gets a firmer suspension setup than the more conventional X3 with which it shares its underpinnings.
One of the giveaways the 2018 hasn't been updated is its retention of BMW's last-generation N26 and N55 engines; the new B46 four-cylinder and B58 six-cylinder (as found in the latest 5 Series) will likely be part of an updated X4 that will come for 2019.
Therefore, once again, the X4 comes in two trims built around four- and six-cylinder powertrains. In the xDrive28i model, power is from a 2.0L turbo four that makes 241 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, while the M40i gets a turbo inline six good for 355 hp and 343 lb-ft. Both use an eight-speed automatic transmission and AWD.
The basics include 19-inch wheels on the 28i and flashier 20s on the sport oriented M40i; inside, leatherette seats are standard, with Nevada leather in a variety of colours being the option, with hue depending on what other extras are selected.
Despite its use of the M label, the M40i is not a true BMW M-car, but rather shows BMW knows many buyers who go for the big motor also want more than just power. This uplevel model is meant to take on the Audi SQ5 and Porsche Macan S, both of which the Bimmer out-muscles, without venturing into full-on performance territory the way the over-the-top X6 M does. But we have to wonder what a true M variant of the X4 would do for this vehicle's image: after all, Porsche wades well into compact performance SUV territory with the Macan Turbo.
Pricing for the 2018 BMW X4 starts at $49,600 for the xDrive28i, and $61,850 in M40i form. Fuel consumption estimates are 11.8/8.6 L/100 km (city/highway) for the four-cylinder engine and 12.7/9.1 for the six-cylinder model.
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