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.
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.