Currently reading: BMW to expand plant for new X4
New X3-based X4 coupe-SUV due in 2013; hot M version also planned; follows successful X6 formula

BMW is to invest $900m in its factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina to build the new X4, a sporting version of the X3, it has been confirmed.

Plans for the car were predicted by Autocar in 2010, and last year BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer gave the first official indication that the four-seater SUV will be built when he said, "Yes, we will position a BMW X4 above the X3".

The car, depicted here in Autocar’s exclusive computer-generated rendering, will extend BMW’s already strong presence within the toughly fought premium SUV market.

Smaller and more agile than the X3, the new four-seater is expected to be badged X4 when it goes on sale in 2014. And in keeping with the new four-wheel-drive’s sporting brief, BMW’s plans also call for a range-topping X4 M version, previewed in our rendering.

Individual styling

Although the X4 shares the same floorpan, drivelines, chassis and hard points as the X3, it is set to receive its own individual styling in a move intended to give it a more sporting image and enable BMW to position it higher than the SUV upon which it is based.

Design proposals suggest that the X4 differs from the X3 in much the same way that the X6 is distinguished from the X5, with a bullish front end, curved coupé-style roofline and heavily angled tailgate.

As with its larger sibling, the exterior design changes are set to make it less practical than its more upright sibling, with reductions in headroom and luggage capacity. However, strong sales of the X6 have convinced BMW bosses that customers are prepared to forgo everyday usability in the name of style.

The car is also depicted in a pair of official BMW sketches. Although they reveal a three-door model badged X3, they hint strongly at the X4's design, mainly its roofline and front-end styling; BMW sources insist that too much shouldn't be read into the fact it has three doors.

Read our previous story on the BMW X4

Production ready?BMW’s answer to the Porsche Cajun — Stuttgart’s new three-door SUV, which is due for launch in 2013 — was first proposed by in-house designers back in 2006. However, capacity concerns at Magna in Austria, where the first X3 was made, ultimately led BMW to postpone a decision on the car’s future until production switched to Spartanburg — something that has been realised with the second-generation X3. As well as the Cajun, BMW will level the X4 at the Audi Q5. Influencing BMW’s decision to push ahead with the X4 is the continued slow sales of sporting estate cars in North America.

Engines and layoutThe X4 is expected to come with a choice of four and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines mated to a six-speed manual, seven-speed double-clutch or optional eight-speed automatic gearbox. As with the X3, BMW does not plan a two-wheel-drive version.

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It will be allied to BMW’s latest electronically controlled Dynamic Performance Control system, which provides an individual apportioning of drive to each rear wheel dependent upon prevailing traction.

Sitting at the top of the line-up will be a performance-orientated X4 M model boasting styling upgrades and a next-generation in-line six-cylinder engine with twin turbochargers from BMW’s M division. The X4’s double-wishbone (front) and multi-link (rear) suspension will be tuned to deliver more engaging handling than the X3.

There will be a lowered ride height, reduced wheel travel, uprated anti-roll bars and unique spring and dampers that will feature variable control. 

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SpiritOfSenna 15 January 2012

Re: BMW X3 to spawn sporty X4

Whilst I adhere to the view that the X6 isn't exactly a beauty, I will admit that the idea of the X4 does appeal to me - but with provisos . . .

  • I don't want it to be lower than an X3, but higher - proper ground clearance.
  • I want it to be a two-door model (plus hatchback, so that's technically three-door, i know).
  • I want electric pillarless windows, front & rear.
  • I want a large sunroof.
  • I want it to be diesel and to happy run on old cooking oil.
  • I want the engine to be as refined as the best BMW petrol engines.
  • I want it to return at least 80mpg on the combined cycle.
  • I want it to be inexpensive to insure.
  • I want it to cost less than £10,000
  • I want it to to be a limited run of no more than 1000 examples, in order that it is genuinely a prestige vehicle.
  • I want it to have genuine off-road ability.

Now that's what I call niche. Would BMW care to fill that niche for me? Hope so.

Seriously though, BMW is making hay whilst the sun shines, which won't be forever, so good luck to them - if the RR Evoque is considered desirable, I can't see why a BMW X4 shouldn't be - personally, I think the Evoque looks intriguing but ghastly, and seems a mite over-priced to me, but the right price is what the market will pay. I would never buy a RR of any type in the current climate because of the type of people that drive them - not bad people but selfish people that consider it ok to use an unnecessary amount of the world's resources, because they think it makes them look cool. OK, they're not all like that, but many are, and it isn't just RR but most 4x4s, but I'm sure that you get the point.

Two other thoughts whilst I'm in my ranting mode - firstly, the only niche that BMW etc won't happily explore will be the onemarked "inexpensive" - I fully expect other manufacturers to emulate all BMWs most profitable niches in the next decade, but as sub-categories of the VFM (value-for-money) niche - and there a whole lot more less-affluent people than affluent people . . .

Secondly, and you'll probably be glad to read, lastly, am I the only person who thinks that there should be a standardised 4x4 performance test that requires any 4x4 vehicle to be able to successfully navigate a particular 4x4 course? It doesn't need to be a rutted green lane course that requires rivers to be forded etc, but something that will require a certain level of broadbrush 4x4 competence. For example, I'm told that the BMW X5 is useless on snow, ice, mud - in fact, anywhere except near-perfect roads - but terrific on the road. So why carry around the weight of a 4x4 system just to perform well on the road, which BMWs tend to do anyway?

Fidji 13 January 2012

Re: BMW X3 to spawn sporty X4

This should be an interesting car. I don't want to see the inevitable Audi Q4 though.

WooDz 13 January 2012

Re: BMW X3 to spawn sporty X4

iamthestig wrote:
I like the X6 and am quite keen to see what an X4 would be like, maybe its aimed at the younger market.

What an awesome comment.
The X1 is aimed at a younger market but I wouldn't exactly call it cheap as chips. The X1 is also mainly bought by older people who no-longer want to stoop down into a car and love the idea of having something smaller and taller than the 5-series they used to drive.
The reason behind the X4 is because there is ultimately a market for it. Plus BMW need a car of that size that Americans will buy because the choice they have is an X3, X5 or an X6. Americans still don't like the idea of driving a Wagon and the GT has been with-drawn. So instead of bringing the 3-series GT to the states and it failing, they put bigger springs on it and call it an X4.