Devil in a Red Dress

2014-12-14 06:00

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JUST ENOUGH FLASH AND SIZE For individuals who don’t quite know what they want, but want it to be big, bold, eye-catching and fast, the BMW?X4?35i is probably just the ticket

For the individuals who don’t quite know what they want, but want it to be big, bold, eye-catching and fast, the BMW?X4?35i is probably just the ticket. Based on the X3’s platform and modelled after its bigger (and much lambasted) sibling, the excessive BMW X6, the X4 is what BMW refers to as a “sport activity coupé”.

It’s high, but not too high. It’s bold, but not overly flashy. It’s a little clunky, yet streamlined, and elegant in robust way.

But in its “Melbourne Red” paint job, it did make me feel like the village porn star in the front pew of church. In a pair of Jimmy Choos, might I add.

Even though the X4 stands quite tall in its boots (only about 4cm lower than the X3), it doesn’t feel like you’re driving an SUV. The leather-clad steering wheel feels reassuringly solid and chunky in your palms, and even though the steering hasn’t much feedback, it’s pretty accurate.

It also handles brilliantly, with agile cornering. The chart-topping 3.5-litre, turbocharged six-cylinder engine needs little encouragement, which made it very tempting to have it on its Sport setting at all times. This setting, on the standard Driving Experience Control system, makes the X4 more responsive and dynamic. If one floors the accelerator from standstill, you’ll reach 100km/h in just 5.5 seconds, with almost imperceptible gear shifts through its eight-speed autobox. The Sport Plus setting is only recommended if you know your stuff because traction control will be deactivated and the X4 might just wag its tail in delight.

Whether I drove the X4 with gusto or I had it on its greenest Eco-Pro setting, my fuel economy showed a consistent 12.3-12.6 litres per 100km. Not bad at all, considering the sizeable engine lurking under the hood.

On the deserted, twisty stretches of road between Napier and Stanford in the Western Cape, where most of #Trending’s vehicles get tested, I had so much fun I returned home with an adrenaline-induced headache.

My test model had an ivory leather interior with red stitching, which is gorgeous, fresh and contemporary. But a light interior would not be my first choice.

The rest of the interior is the usual classy BMW fare, with standard specifications like the auto start/stop function, front and rear parking sensors and optional extras added such as navigation, sunroof, lane change warning, surround view, and so on.

It’s the kind of car that just makes one feel undeniably sexy just by driving it. Stepping out of it in a dress is also a lot more practical than getting out of an actual ground-hugging coupé. Rear space is almost as good as the X3, and even though the seats are slightly lower and the roofline slopes, it shouldn’t bother people of an average height.

Would I buy one? Of course, if money was no object. The base price of this top-of-the-line X4 is a steep R801?000, and our test model, with all its extra mod cons, will set you back a breathtaking R976?489.

The styling isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it had plenty of the dads at school drooling; and the moms raved about its stylish, modern looks. I’ve always loved the Range Rover Evoque, but the X4 should give it a good run for its money.

Visit for a complete list of prices, standard specifications and optional extras

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