BMW X4: a more expensive, less practical X3

BMW will charge more for less with the X4 SUV due to arrive in Australia in July.

The new BMW X4 follows the trend established by the X6 in costing more for a less-practical, more “coupe-like” alternative to traditional SUVs.

Where the X6 is based on the bigger yet cheaper X5, the new X4 shares its underpinnings and most of its drivetrain options with the more competitively priced X3 compact SUV.

The biggest disparity in pricing hits buyers at the bottom end of the new X4 range. The X4 20i is priced from $69,900, compared with $59,000 for the X3 20i with the same engine and transmission.

Compared to the X3, the X4 is 14mm longer overall, its roofline 36mm lower. Both cars share the same 2810mm wheelbase.

BMW claims equipment levels on the X4 justify the 18 percent price penalty.

“The X4 comes with over $9000 of additional features as standard,” said BMW spokesperson Scott Croaker. “So when you add up the additional features, which is actually about $9250, and compare it to the equivalent X3, the prices are pretty lineball.”

BMW also says buyers will see value in the dynamics equation.

“It’s based on the X3 blueprint, so it’s essentially the same car with a different body, but it’s got a much more dynamic focus,” said Croaker. “It comes standard with BMW’s Performance Control and variable sports steering, so it’ll be much sharper.”

The X4 will become the fifth model in BMW’s growing SUV range, which currently includes X1, X3, X5 and X6.

SUVs are big business for BMW and account for about 40 percent of the brand’s total Australian sales. Of these, traditional SUVs such as the X3 and X5 account for the lion’s share, with the X6 barely managing one-tenth of the X5’s volume last year.

Like sports cars, ‘sporty’ SUVs have strong sales initially, but tend to weaken in following years. The X6 reached a high watermark of 573 in 2009, but managed just 366 sales in 2013, a fall of 33 percent.

Given the newness of the X4’s segment, BMW is reluctant to predict sale numbers, but revealed it doesn’t believe the X4 will eat into the X3’s volume.

“That styling decision is very popular, as we’ve proven with the X6, so we’re obviously hoping it will be successful,” said Croaker. “At the moment we’re selling every X3 we can get our hands on, but the X4 is clearly very different in buyer appeal.”

Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.

Want free access to 5 years of Wheels archive content? Sign up now!