2015 BMW X4 creates its own class

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/ Updated: April 16, 2014 12:08 PM PDT

NEW YORK -- In style and intention, the BMW X4, an all-new model first presented at the 2014 New York International Auto Show, seems like a baby X6, but get up close and the new model appears as something else entirely.

The X6 is the sporty and aggressive brother to the X5, the latter having more traditional SUV lines. However, the X4 doesn't have the same bad body swagger. The roof bubbles up over the front seats, then slants back towards the rear with a very raked hatchback. The impression is more practical camper than back alley mugger.

As with the X6, the slanting hatchback compromises rear seat headroom, leaving only a few inches between hair and headliner for a 5-foot-9-inch passenger.

In the US, BMW will offer the X4 model as the xDrive28i and the xDrive35i. Those familiar with BMW model naming will know that both come standard with all-wheel-drive. The former uses BMW's 2-liter four cylinder engine, direct injection and turbocharging helping its 240 horsepower output. The xDrive35i gets BMW's 3-liter inline six cylinder engine, also with direct injection and a turbocharger, good for 300 horsepower.

An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission choice for both.

BMW digs deep into its tech arsenal for the X4, offering everything from the latest version of iDrive to LED headlights. The car will come with a data connection to power Google search in the navigation system and support app integration through BMW Connect. The new version of iDrive comes with a touch pad for gesture control embedded into its main dial.

A recent feature which BMW calls Proactive Driving Assistant will alert X4 drivers to tight corners and lowered speed limits ahead.

The popularity of the X4 would seem to be eclipsed by the more practical nature of the X3, which has similar dimensions but more cargo area. However, the X6 model was successful against a similar challenge from the X5, pointing to the fact that buyers will opt for style over utility. That, and good driving dynamics, should work in the X4's favor, but prepare for BMW's typical strategy of making most features optional.

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