Since the radical styling shift BMW made with the 2001 7 Series, the company's model changes have been much more evolutionary. To wit, while BMW calls the second-generation of its X4 crossover "all-new," you have to look pretty hard to see the difference.
BMW says this sport activity coupe, as it describes the car, boasts sportier proportions thanks to a wider track (by 37 mm), while overall length also increases by 81 mm and the wheelbase is 54 mm longer. The automaker says the new X4's proportions call out the car's nearly perfect (50:50) front-to-rear weight distribution.
But as is the way of the auto industry now, BMW is more keen to talk about the X4's new technology features, including an available head-up display 75 percent larger than before; and a suite of standard active safety kit that includes lane departure warning, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic warning, rear collision prevention, front collision warning, city collision mitigation and automatic braking and pedestrian detection.
At its mid-2018 launch, the X4 was available in M40i M Performance and xDrive30i variants. The former is powered by a turbocharged 3.0L six-cylinder engine making 355 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque, and the latter uses a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder good for 248 hp and 258 lb-ft. Both engines share an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Both trims get BMW's xDrive AWD system, but in the M40i its power delivery is biased toward the rear for sharper handling in enthusiastic driving, and adds a launch control function to the automatic transmission. That speedier model also gets big M Sport brakes with blue calipers.
Inside, BMW says the X4's options list includes ventilated seating and three-zone air conditioning with automatic temperature control for the rear seat. And now standard is a larger panoramic sunroof that allows more light into the rear section of the cabin.
For all that some people remain up in arms about BMW's dramatic shift into the sporty crossover market, the X4 is a well-done example of the breed. It competes primarily with the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe, which looks and feels a bit more posh where BMW has clearly focused on sharp driving dynamics, at least in the M40i model. The X4 embraces the same stylistic concept as the larger X6, but without coming across half as obnoxious as the latter model.
If we're honest, these rakish crossovers are a nice change from the raft of traditional crossovers that have saturated roadways in North America, many of which are also made by BMW: The X1, X3 and X5 are pretty basic boxes on wheels, so the X4 (and the smaller X2, to an extent) do add some colour to the marketplace.