BMW X4 (2014-2018)

By Jonathan Crouch

Models Covered: Mid-Sized SUV 5dr (2.0 petrol, 3.0 diesel - xDrive 20d, xDrive 30d, xDrive 35d [SE, xLine, MSport])


When BMW launched their original X4 model, they told it was a sports coupe. Whatever your take on that, their X4 is certainly an interesting take on fashionable family motoring, an avant garde compact SUV you’d want to be seen in. If you can afford the fee, it’s a tempting, sportier take on the mid-sized SUV genre and if you like the looks, then you’ll probably like everything else because it’s pure BMW.

It’s even a little more practical than you might expect. True, the world may not need another car like this – but you certainly might.

The History

BMW is leaving no stone un-turned in its efforts to fill every possible premium market automotive niche with desirable products. In 2014, they brought us another one – the first generation version of their fashionable X4 SUV coupe.

If you’re at all familiar with the Munich maker’s model line-up, then you’ll get the idea behind this car immediately. In 2008, the company brought us a design they badged as the ‘X6’, a kind of sportier coupe-like version of their established X5 luxury SUV. Against the odds, the X6 subsequently proved to be a profitable car for the brand, so the same concept was down-sized to create this X4, a sportier coupe-like version of the squarer, more practical MK2 model X3 compact SUV.

By the time the first generation X4 arrived in the Autumn of 2014, other brands had already been showing BMW that there was a small, significant group of affluent buyers looking for a sportier, trendier take on the whole mid-sized SUV concept. Some of these had been satisfied with cars like the Range Rover Evoque, while others with deeper pockets had turned to the even more dynamic Porsche Macan.

With the X4, BMW had a product that it hoped would appeal in either case. The MK1 model sold until the Spring of 2018 when it was replaced by a second generation version.

What To Look For

As usual, make sure that servicing has been correctly carried out at a BMW main dealer. Given this X4’s ‘crossover’ rather than full-SUV status, it’s unlikely than any given car will have been subjected to any off-road heroics, but check around the sills just in case. Kerbed alloy wheels and signs of interior child damage are much more likely. Use these as negotiating points with the seller.

Our ownership survey uncovered a number of satisfied customers, but also a number who’d had teething issues. One car exhibited a knocking noise from the front right, traced to a faulty steering rack. In fact, no fewer than four replacement racks were needed on that particular model; apparently, it’s due to a design fault. On owner reported a buzzing sound from the back end of the car, while another talked of transfer case whine (a £2,000 fix) and yet another said he’d noticed occasional screeching from the engine. Look out for all these things on your test drive. Other failures related to the front door latch, the rear boot latch, the trip computer, the tow bar and the Bluetooth module; check all of these. One owner found his car’s front brake discs needed prematurely replacing. Another reported a rattly sunroof and door seals that squeaked.

On The Road

Given that BMW’s X3 - the car this X4 is based upon – is arguably the sportiest offering in the premium-badged compact SUV segment, you might approach a drive in this model with quite high hopes, armed with the knowledge that it has a lower centre of gravity and springs that are about 15% stiffer. It’d be hard, you’d think, for the Munich men to mess this one up.

Nor have they. Point it down a fast, winding road and your smooth, flowing progress will be imperious, aided by xDrive all-wheel drive traction that inspires enormous confidence. It helps that feedback from the tactile, pleasantly chunky three-spoke sports steering wheel is far better than you fear an electric steering system might offer – though for us, it still lacks that last enth of tarmac feedback that as enthusiasts, we’d be really seeking. Under the bonnet, the mainstream X4 line-up is an all-diesel one that opens with a xDrive 20d variant packing a 190bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel. Of course, for some a BMW is only worthy of the name if it features a proper straight-six plumbed in up-front. If that's the case, you'll start your search with the xDrive30d variant. This is fitted with the auto ‘box as standard and delivers a pokey 258bhp that’s an exact match for the directly comparable Porsche Macan S Diesel. In the unlikely event that this should prove to be a little tardy for you, there's always the xDrive35d which delivers 313bhp and uses Launch Control to batter its way to 62mph in 5.2s before keeping on accelerating all the way to 153mph.


Inevitably, a model of this kind will continually divide opinion. The people who don’t like it will tell you to buy a cheaper, more practical X3 – but then they’re probably the same people who can’t see the point of anything prioritising style over substance. In any case, this X4 does have substance to its proposition – at least when it comes to efficiency, quality and low running costs. It’s even reasonably spacious and practical.

Don’t be dissuaded then, if you’d like one. This may not be quite the sharpest dynamic contender in its segment but it’s still an astonishingly rewarding steer for something based on SUV underpinnings. Yes, there's an element of compromise in its packaging but the world would be a dull place if we only bought cars on a pragmatic basis. File this one under 'unexpectedly likeable'.