The Numbers

BMW X4 xDrive20i: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, 135 kW, 270 Nm, 0–100 km/h in 8.1 sec, 7.2 l/100 km

The Topgear Verdict

The "Sports Activity Coupe" (with four doors) is a pleasingly sporty drive, for an SUV.

2014 BMW X4

SUVs have reached a strange place, physically, where they’re ubiquitous enough to begin experimenting with not looking like SUVs. And so comes the X4, BMW’s self-proclaimed ‘Sports Activity Coupe’, a three-word series of syllables that shouldn’t really exist. To repeat them long enough is to experience the same series of emotions as seeing at an X4 in the metal: first, painful cognitive dissonance, then mental flip-flopping (it’s nice! It’s ugly! It’s nice!) that, second, fades into a long, low-fi buzz of static best, and then third, resolves itself as a type of Zen confusion.

It’s a bit odd, yes. In motoring terms, it looks incongruous, like a sexy Nike Free trainer bolted onto a chunky platform sole. But – and especially in the 30d diesel version – it’s brilliant behind the wheel. Neither the raked A-pillar, 20mm lower roofline (that the X3) or scoliosis-slouched C-pillar take much away from the SUVs’ drawcard command driving position. You still feel high. But with 190kW and a robust 560Nm from that 3.0L turbo six, it will pull the skin off a rock, while sitting as flat as could possibly be expected through twisty bits. Shunting 1820kg, it’s more than a dynamic match for the Cayenne, with real fizz making it properly sportscar sporty, including a 5.8s 0-100km/h figure. That C-pillar/roofline combo also gives it a supercar’s amount of rear-view-mirror vision, which is to say: not much.

There are alternate versions to the prime, $83,900 xDrive30d: a 2.0L four-pot petrol turbo xDrive20i (135kW/270Nm, $69,430); 2.0L four-pot turbo diesel xDrive20d (140kW/400Nm, $73,400); and the 3.0L six-cylinder petrol xDrive35i (225kW/400Nm, $87,430).

Making a coupe-like SUV might be like putting lipstick on a pig, but the X4 is the sexiest porker in the barnyard. There are worse ways you could be makin' bacon. Some pigs are more equal than others.

BMW X4 xDrive20i:

2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine

135 kW, 270 Nm

0–100 km/h in 8.1 sec

7.2 l/100 km

BMW X4 xDrive20d:

2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine

140 kW, 400 Nm

0–100 km/h in 8.0 sec

5.2 l/100 km

BMW X4 xDrive30d:

3.0-litre six-cylinder in-line diesel engine,

190 kW, 560 Nm

0–100 km/h in 5.8 sec,

5.9 l/100 km

BMW X4 xDrive35i:

3.0-litre six-cylinder in-line petrol engine,

225 kW,400 Nm

0–100 km/h in 5.5 sec

8.3 l/100 km

Reviewed by: Ben Smithurst

Driven: July 30, 2014