New BMW X4 offers sleeker lines and a sportier drive as well as more space than before
New BMW X4 offers sleeker lines and a sportier drive The latest BMW X4 has a spoiler strip running across the top of its rear windscreen and its new iDrive system comes with a free-standing 6.5-inch display on top of the dashboard. PHOTO: BMW

The second-generation BMW X4 looks somewhat sportier than its predecessor, which is not a bad thing for an SUV.

It is 81mm longer and sits 3mm lower, with a roof that slopes slightly more gently towards the rear. Its rear LED lights are slimmer and there is an interesting-looking spoiler strip - which looks more like a visor - running across the top of its rear windscreen.

Twin rhomboid tailpipes peek out from either end of a diffuser assembly. LED strips housed in a restyled front bumper replace plain circular fog lamps in the previous car.

"Sporty" can be used to describe the way it drives too. The all-wheel-drive X4 has a wider rear track, an M Sport suspension and variable sports steering.

The X4 xDrive30i xLine tested here corners surprisingly well for an SUV. Fast bends are dispatched with aplomb, while tight curves require judicious use of the throttle. Its communicative steering inspires confidence and a responsive engine allows you to get on the power earlier for swifter exits.

While "Comfort" is the default mode, you can drive all day in "Sport" and enjoy sharper throttle response and swifter gear changes from the eight-speed transmission. The penalty to ride comfort is slight, even with the optional 21-inch wheels on the test car.

With 252hp and a meaty 350Nm on tap from its 2-litre turbocharged engine, the car excels on highways. The century dash is completed in 6.3 seconds, equivalent to what a hot hatch achieves.

Overtaking is easy and you will find yourself passing a row of cars instead of just one. BMW claims a fuel consumption of around 7.3 litres per 100km, but the test-car averages 8.4 litres - a decent figure for an SUV with a top speed of 240kmh.

Part of the credit goes to improved aerodynamics and a 50kg weight loss.

Inside, the car's sporty character continues with a driver-focused cockpit and redesigned front seats, which provide excellent lateral support, even in extreme handling situations. Opting for the M Sport X or M Sport trim lines will get you an M leather steering wheel and M-specific seats.

Like the X3, the X4 has BMW's new iDrive system with a free-standing 6.5-inch display on top of the dashboard. You can specify the Professional system, with a gorgeous 10.25-inch touchscreen. Also new is a 12-inch driver's instrument cluster in black panel design.

Even with its wheelbase longer than before, the X4 remains less spacious than the new X3, on which it is based. Still, rear passengers have 27mm more legroom than in the current X4, while the boot is 25 litres bigger at 525 litres.

Last year, the X4 accounted for one-third of all BMW X cars sold worldwide. The new model should keep it on top of the sales chart.

The car will arrive in Singapore in the third quarter of this year.