From the driver’s seat, the X4 looks practically identical to its X3 sister car. You sit a touch lower in the cabin, but the infotainment, dash layout and digital instrument binnacles are all recognisable from the more conventionally shaped SUV. There’s good adjustability, too — as you would expect from a vehicle designed with keener drivers in mind.
In the back, the tapered roofline hasn’t eaten into head room a great deal, while leg room doesn’t create any great cause for concern either. The boot opening is usefully wide, although there is a bit of lip that can make loading and unloading heavy items a more taxing endeavour. The sloping roofline can be an issue here, too; although there’s 525 litres of seats-up storage space on offer, it does mean large boxes (or chests of drawers, in this tester’s case) can be a bit of a struggle to fit in.
From a dynamic point of view, though, the X4’s more sporting intent is evident from the get-go. The thick-rimmed steering wheel’s gearing errs on the heavier side of things, and while there isn’t a great deal of talkativity to be experienced here, it does let you steer the X4 into bends with confidence. It’s a responsive thing, too; the front end turns in quickly and the lateral weight transfer experienced while navigating successive bends isn’t as significant as you might expect from what is a fairly tall, heavy vehicle.
As for comfort, there’s little to complain about. Well, for the most part, anyway. At speeds below 30mph, ruts and bumps in the road surface will transfer a noticeable amount of shudder into the cabin, although this is ironed out as the pace is increased. Particularly lumpy surfaces will test the X4’s vertical body control, but unless you’re travelling ridiculously quickly the M Sport suspension — which is standard on all variants of the X4, not just our M Sport model — keeps things in check nicely.
The four-cylinder diesel engine isn’t as overtly grumbly as some oil-burning powerplants can be, only becoming particularly vocal under hard acceleration. Its 295lb ft of torque is available at a lowly 1750rpm, so while there is a decent amount of initial shove off the line, it does run out of puff sooner than you might like. For the most part, the eight-speed transmission is smooth and quick to change, although at low speeds under part-throttle there can be a degree of hesitation while it makes its mind up as to whether it wants to stick with its selected ratio or change down.