By: IOL Motoring Staff

Variety is the spice of life, as a wise person once said, and BMW is wholeheartedly embracing that philosophy by entering just about every premium vehicle niche that it can dream up.

BMW's latest niche player is the X4 crossover, now seen for the first time in showroom guise - although there are no real stylistic surprises for those who have already seen the 2013 concept vehicle.

The X4 'Sports Activity Coupé' (as BMW calls it) is essentially a more compact alternative to the X6 and just as the latter is based on the X5, the new X4 is built around the technical blueprint of the latest X3.

In keeping with its sportier disposition, though, the driver and front passenger sit 20mm lower than in the X3. It's not necessarily an impractical vehicle either, as BMW promises “generous space” for up to five people.

FIVE TURBO CHOICES

South African buyers will have five turbocharged engines to choose from when the X4 lands here in September this year.

The most potent of these is the xDrive35i featuring BMW's 3-litre straight six. Delivering 225kW and 400Nm, 35i races to 100km/h in a claimed 5.5 seconds. BMW's 2-litre turbopetrol rounds off the range with 135kW/270Nm and 180kW/350Nm versions in the 20i and 28i.

On the diesel front, SA's initial range won't include the 230kW/630Nm 35d, but we are getting the 190kW/560Nm 3-litre diesel (30d) and 140kW/400Nm 2-litre diesel (20d).

Only the xDrive20d model is offered with a six-speed manual gearbox; the rest of the range is fitted with BMW's eight-speed autobox. Standard in all versions is BMW's xDrive permanent all-wheel drive system with a 'Performance Control' system that splits the drive between the rear wheels as required.

Those ticking the long options list will be able to opt for ConnectedDrive features like full-colour Head-Up Display, Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function, Collision Warning system, anti-dazzle High Beam Assistant and much more.

Full specifications and pricing will be announced closer to launch.