BMW's second-generation X4 is sleeker, quicker and more refined
BMW's second-generation X4 is in a league of its own With its cushy seats, generous footwell and driver-centric cockpit, the BMW X4 is ideal for long hauls. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

People who say sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and driving pleasure should not be used in the same sentence have not driven the new BMW X4.

Sitting wide and low, the smaller, younger and prettier version of the X6 "coupe-SUV" has a natural affinity for the tarmac.

And in BMW fashion, its chassis exudes poise, balance and coherence - traits which remain quite apparent despite the car's crossover profile. On the go, it tracks flawlessly, with tidy body movements and a performance-biased blend of ride and handling.

It is not as lightfooted nor as agile as a BMW sedan or coupe, but it is streets ahead of most SUVs.

Of course, you might ask if the X4 is really an SUV or a fastback with a slightly higher ceiling and better ground clearance.

Either way, there is no denying the X4 xDrive30i's abilities and prowess. Propulsion comes from a 2-litre turbo churning out 252hp and 350Nm. Channelled through an eight-speed autobox to all four wheels, the output translates to progress which is as swift as it is smooth.

While it may not seem as blistering as its 6.3-second sprint implies, the X4 has an enormous stamina. Power delivery is very linear across a wide rev band. You hardly detect the surge and lag associated with many turbos.

Its immense power comes at a price, though. Fuel consumption is about 50 per cent higher than BMW's declared 7.8 litres/100km. But for fans, that may well be par for the course.

The ride is firm and slightly jiggly over protrusions, but not entirely uncomfortable. At higher speeds, the chassis has an amicable frequency.

Together with its cushy seats, generous footwell and driver-centric cockpit, the X4 is ideal for long hauls.

Excellent insulation helps to keep fatigue at bay too.

Fit and finish is now clearly better than when the first American-made X-cars arrived two decades ago.

Still, there are tiny things that have escaped attention, such as sharp edges around door handles, and an extremely sticky roller cover for a centre console compartment, requiring both hands to open.

And though the boot is fairly sizeable, its opening is surprisingly narrow.

The car has a more dynamic design, with headlights made slimmer with LED tech and an almost Italian rear end. Quite sexy, even for an SUV.

The second-generation X4 is bigger than its predecessor, with growth most obvious in its length, width and wheelbase. Yet it is sleeker, with better wind-cheating properties.

It has more modern features, such as wireless smartphone charging, phone pairing (BMW Connected), automatic parking for perpendicular and parallel spaces, and drive mode selection as well as customisation.

All fine and well, but the properties which define the X4 are still very much related to the way it drives. On that score, this SUV is in a league of its own.