As we suspected on our first glance overseas, the X4 is less likely to attract the teeth-gnashing consternation that greeted its big brother.
The X6 had the obnoxious on-road presence of a chromed whale carcass; smaller dimensions (i.e. the ability to fit snugly into a British parking space and the outside lane) make the new car’s still overtly posturing appearance more tolerable.
Inside, the roofline’s coupe-ish swan-dive has a predictable impact. All 5’8” of yours truly fits fine in the back, but even with the ceiling emphatically scooped out, it appears likely that Autocar’s collection of six-footers can, at the very least, expect to have their hairline tickled.
It’s a similar story in the boot, where 50 litres of seat-up capacity - not to mention clearance for especially big, longer items - has been lost. That still leaves a hearty 500-litres of pleasingly high loading, square and flat floor space - but the inevitable practicality demerit stands.
Upfront, of course, the driver wouldn’t recognise any compromise. Headroom here is massively plentiful, and although one wonders how BMW has managed to squeeze a clutch pedal into the cramped, offset area underfoot, the driving position is otherwise satisfying (aided by a 20mm drop in hip point compared to the X3).
Being lower to the road is a prominent X4 theme; a 36mm reduction in height has brought the centre of gravity down, and the retuned chassis is obviously primed to take advantage of that. This it does in now familiar style, spurning the dynamic handicap of being still comparatively tall with the kind of bemusing nimbleness one associates with an NBA point guard.
Changes of direction, always grip-happy and torque-trimmed, are ruthlessly gouged from the road surface - especially in Sport mode, where the dampers disregard pliability entirely for jowl-quivering levels of tautness.
Teamed with the steady fizz of BMW’s straight-six, and the xDrive30d makes for a consummate hot hatch botherer. The unfortunate thing is that it somewhat struggles to be much of anything else.
Despite defaulting on start-up to its softest Comfort setting, the X4 (admittedly in M Sport garb with 19-inch wheels) never truly relaxes on its springs.
There’s a slight irritability about the ride around town; not significant enough to jostle you needlessly - but short of the plush civility one would hope for in an upmarket SUV, and certainly at odds with the low-speed amiability being dispensed by the drivetrain.
Around this central niggle, others orbit. There’s rather a lot of wind noise at motorway speed, and a wee bit too much engine noise below it. Heave it onto the scales, and you’ll discover the X4 still weighs the best part of two tonnes - so expect its claimed 47.9mpg to be difficult to eke out while deploying anything more than a slither of its potential.
Also, some of the switchgear and polished trim plastic used in the taller dash architecture isn’t of the same standard as those used in the 3-Series - unforgivable in a car which starts and then ascends at a much steeper cost rate.