BMW has at last confirmed that it will soon begin production of the X4. It will be based on the X3, and the company considers it a ‘younger sibling’ to the sporty X6, a statement rife with uncomfortable possibilities.
Norbert Reithofer, BMW CEO, anounced the decision, saying, “Yes, we will position a BMW X4 above the X3.” That may be so on a cost basis, but it's more likely to be "below," when it comes to ingress and egress.
The UK’s Autocar magazine says that the X4 will be a lower "and more responsive" version of the X3. It will debut as a four-door coupe sedan, but official sketches suggest that there could be a three-door model. Other features shared by the two models will include automatic start-stop, heads-up display, and voice control.
It all sounds like a far cry from the elegant greenhouses of the 1970s anyway. If it follows the X6 pattern, it will have dismal rear visibility, limited carrying capacity and a claustrophobic ambience. The term "limited SUV fuctionality", suggests that going skiing will be the extent of any function. Let's hope it's long enough for skis to fit inside.
The vehicle will boast four-wheel-drive and the X4’s engine options are expected to resemble the X3’s powertrain, with a range of four- and six-cylinder gas and diesel engines. These will include a 2-liter diesel engine with 177 horsepower and a 3-liter diesel with 231 horsepower. A turbo version, with 300 horsepower, will complete the diesel choices, but the U.S. isn't likely to get all of them.
Also available will be gas engines, ranging from a 2-liter four-cylinder with 163 horsepower, to a 3-liter turbo engine and 306 horsepower. As might be expected, there will be a high-performance version later, the X4M, with a new twin-turbo V-6 and a six-speed manual transmission. Seven- and eight-speed automatic transmissions are also rumored, to compete withj the Audi Q5 or the soon-to-be-released Porsche Cajun.
BMW has not yet released pricing details, but the X4 will probably find a niche between the base price for the X3, at $36,850, and the X5 at $47,200. The X4 will be built at the company’s Spartenburg plant in South Carolina.—Paul Duchene
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