BMW X4 Estate Leasing
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It handles well for a large SUV and the engines are strong. The cabin looks and feels upmarket, and has plenty of space for four people.
The boot is quite shallow and the X4 loses its value more quickly than key rivals. Engine and wind noise are a problem on the motorway.
If you want a fast, premium SUV that’s good to drive, you could do a lot worse than the BMW X4. If practicality is a priority, though, you’ll be better off with the roomier, cheaper X3.
There are three diesel engines available, one 2.0-litre (badged 20d) and two 3.0-litre units (the 30d and 35d). The 30d is impressively quick and, because it pulls strongly from just 1700rpm and doesn’t run out of puff at higher revs, effortlessly flexible. This sensation of speed is helped by the brilliant eight-speed automatic gearbox, which rarely gets caught out when asked for a sudden burst of acceleration, and moves through the gears sharply, but smoothly, at other times.
Ride & Handling
The X4 turns in to bends more crisply than anything this big should (helped by quick, accurate steering) and stays admirably flat during fast cornering. The ride is impressive, too. All the cars we’ve tried have been fitted with BMW’s optional variable damper control and, just as we’d recommend that option on the X3, we’d do the same with the X4. It ensures the ride stays on the comfortable side of firm, even at low speeds and on pock-marked urban roads.
Engine refinement isn’t great. There’s a gravelly baritone to the 30d’s engine, especially when worked hard, and this is accompanied by turbo whistle. At least engine noise settles at a steady cruise, and there’s little vibration sent back through any of the controls. Wind noise is another weak spot, though; there’s noticeable rustle at motorway speeds, particularly from around the door mirrors and the base of the windscreen pillars.
Buying & Owning
BMW charges a premium for the X4’s more stylish design over the more practical X3, but the X4 looks competitively priced against rivals such as the Porsche Macan. Fuel and tax costs aren’t too high considering the performance on offer, but the X4’s biggest problem is depreciation – it struggles to hold on to as much of its value over three years as its premium rivals do.
Quality & Reliability
The front half of the X4’s cabin is similar to that of the X3, which means it has a good blend of high-quality materials and well-damped switchgear, and feels nicely put together. There’s not much to inspire and delight, however, and a Porsche Macan’s interior is plusher still. The X4 was too new to be included in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey, but BMW finished close to the bottom of all the manufacturers for reliability.
Safety & Security
Safety kit is comprehensive, and includes six airbags, run-flat tyres and a system that will automatically apply the brakes to help avoid collisions with cars and pedestrians at low speeds. An alarm is also standard, and the X4 received the maximum five stars from security firm Thatcham for its resistance to being stolen, and an impressive four out of five stars for its resistance to being broken into.
Behind The Wheel
The driver’s seat and steering wheel have enough adjustment to ensure you can easily get comfortable. Visibility is average at best, though; you get a commanding view of the road ahead, but your over-the-shoulder view is hampered by the thick pillars and narrow rear window. Reaching the climate and audio controls is easy, and their simple rotary dials design makes them simple to use. The rest of the dashboard is logically laid out, too.
Space & Practicality
Front-seat occupants will have few complains about the space on offer. There’s also enough head-, leg- and shoulder-room for two adults in the back; three would be a squeeze due to the high transmission tunnel. Boot space is 500 litres, around 50 less than in an X3. In reality the difference is probably a little greater, because the angle of the rear hatch will limit the height of items you can carry, even when the 40/20/40 split rear seats are folded to increase the space to 1400 litres.
Even entry-level SE editions are generously equipped. They get heated leather seats, sat-nav, an electrically operated tailgate, dual-zone climate control, xenon headlights, front and rear parking sensors, a digital radio and 18-inch alloy wheels. Next up is xLine trim, which adds sports seats, sporty exterior details and different 18-inch alloy wheels. M Sport models bring 19-inch wheels, M Sport suspension and even more figure-hugging sports seats.