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Driving Performance Is a Highlight For the Compact X4

What changes will make it different?

It was completely new for 2015, so don’t expect much to be different in model-year ’16. We might, however, see a performance M version. These days it seems that if BMW can find even the slightest gap in its model lineup, it will fill it, and the X4 is a good example of this. This compact crossover makes no pretense about being any sort of mud-plugger; like its bigger sibling, the X6, it is all about on-road performance and handling. The X6 was a truly original vehicle that has confounded critics with its popularity with buyers since its launch, but the X4 comes off as a hole the automaker filled between the X3 and X5.

Why should I wait for the 2016?

Unless you want a more powerful, performance version, there is little reason to wait for the ’16 edition before making your purchase. At such an early stage in this vehicle’s lifecycle, we expect mostly a carryover model.

Should I buy a 2015 model instead?

The better question to ask is: Do I really need one in the first place? The X6 makes a lot more sense. But if you like the idea of a less-practical, coupe version of the X3, then go ahead and splurge.

Will the styling be different?

While the X6 was a more brutish, imposing and aggressive take on the X5, this offering is just too similar to the X3 upon which it is obviously based. The styling is likely to stay largely unchanged for ’16, although we wouldn’t rule out some very minor tweaks to the front fascia.

Any mechanical changes?

It should come as no surprise that the X4 shares the same engines as the X3. Although the 2015 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder and the straight-six 3.0-liter turbo are both pretty good, they are set to be replaced by the company’s new modular units before too long. However, we don’t think that will happen as soon as the ’16 version, with BMW choosing to concentrate on a new performance version first.

Will fuel economy improve?

For a sort-of compact crossover coupe that performs with considerable agility, this vehicle delivers reasonable economy figures. Expect the four-cylinder version to give you 20 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg combined, while stepping up to the 3.0-liter straight-six will reduce that to 19/27/22 mpg, respectively. We don’t think those figures will change for the ’16. The automaker’s aging stop/start system certainly aids the mileage, but it definitely doesn’t do a great deal for the overall driving experience.

Will it have new features?

Since it’s soon in the lifecycle, a host of major new features likely aren’t on the agenda. There’s no doubt that this is a premium offering when you’re inside it, and its standard level of equipment isn’t bad at all with the inclusion of a synthetic-leather interior, a multi-function steering-wheel, a power tailgate, wood trim, rear parking sensors, automatic climate control, Bluetooth, USB connections and power front seats. There are plenty of cost options if you want more, including the M Sport, xLine and tech packages costing an extra $2,300, $1,500 and $3,150, respectively.

How will 2016 prices be different?

The ’15 version of the base xDrive28i costs $45,650, while the more powerful xDrive35i will set you back $48,950 in its standard form. Don’t look for significant increases in these prices for 2016, though much could depend on how well sales go in the meantime.

When will it come out?

It should have a release date in the second half of ’15.

Best competitors

Audi Q5, Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz M-Class, Porsche Macan

What changes would make it better?

As a vehicle in its own right, it’s really pretty good. But what’s it really good for? Because of the sloping rear roofline, it isn’t as practical as an X3, and although the rear seats are the same dimensions as the X3, they are really sculptured for just two people. It’s excellent to drive, but so is the 4-Series and the X5. Bottom line? We have difficulty saying what would make it better when there are so many vehicles in the German automaker’s lineup that already do everything the X4 does but without the compromises.

Quick hit

When BMW first introduced the concept of an SUV coupe with the X6, a lot of industry commentators wondered what the point of it was. After all, we already had the 3-Series Coupe (now the 4-Series) and we had the X5, so why did we need a combination of the two? The good news for the automaker is that it was right and the critics were wrong, as the X6 found much favor amongst the vehicle-buying public. Who’s to say the same won’t happen with this vehicle? But what’s next? An X3.5 and an X4.5?

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]