However, a deeper and more heavily structured bumper, boasting larger cooling ducts along with a new kidney grille and a more contoured bonnet serve to give it a more instantly aggressive air.
Further back, the new X4 also flaunts greater structure within its flanks, with three separate swage lines integrated within the body sides rather than the two used on the X3 – a styling development set to be repeated on the new X6, according to BMW sources. It also receives a heavily curved roof.
The rear is distinguished by slender C-pillars, muscular hunches over the rear wheels, a high rear deck, new LED tail lamps and a deep bumper.
At 4671mm in length, 1881mm in width and 1624mm in height, the X4 is longer and lower than the X3. Tracks widths have also increased up to 1616mm up front and 1632mm at the rear.
The X4 shares its interior appointments with the X3, including its dashboard and related trims. The reduction in exterior height is reflected inside, with the front seats mounted lower than those of its more conventional sibling.
Owing to the acute angle of its liftback tailgate, the nominal boot capacity is considerably less than that of the more upright X3, at 500 litres, increasing to 1400 litres when the rear seats, which split 40/20/20, are folded away.
The X4 will be produced with the same range of longitudinally mounted petrol and diesel engines as the X3 at BMW’s Spartanburg factory in North America.
An eight-speed automatic gearbox, which incorporates a coasting function for added fuel saving, is standard on all models save for the xDrive20d, the expected volume seller in the UK, which receives a six-speed manual gearbox.
Included among the diesels bound for the UK is a base turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit producing 187bhp and 295lb ft in the xDrive20d, which is described as the most economical of all new X4 models. Touted economy figures include a combined 52.3mpg and 143g/km of CO2.
It is joined by a turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder producing 254bhp and 413lb ft in the xDrive30d and 307bhp and 465lb ft in the xDrive35d – the latter of which is claimed to deliver the best straight line performance figures of the X4 line-up with a claimed 0-62mph time of 5.2sec and 153mph top speed.
The petrol line-up starts with a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder delivering 181bhp and 199lb ft in the entry-level xDrive20i, rising to 242bhp and 258lb ft in a higher state of tune in the xDrive28i.
Further up is BMW’s traditional turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder with 302bhp and 295lb ft in the xDrive35i. But, in line with moves taken with the X3, none of the petrol engines will be offered in the UK.
While BMW is remaining quiet on further engine variants, Munich-based sources confirm there are plans for an M-Performance model featuring a more powerful version of the xDrive35i’s turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder, although it isn't likely to be seen until 2015.
Befitting its sporting brief, the X4 receives a revised version of the X3’s double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension with firmer spring and damping properties. It also gets a standard variable rate electro-mechanical steering system, multi-plate clutch four-wheel drive system and an electronic torque vectoring function that continuously varies the amount of power delivered to each individual rear wheel depending on prevailing levels of traction.
The launch range comes shod on either 17- or 18-inch wheels and 225/60 or 245/50 profile tyres.
The lower height of the body is also claimed to result in a lower centre of gravity, endowing the X4 with what BMW describes as “driving dynamics that surpass those of the X3 in terms of sportiness”.