BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is among the best on sale, but the X4’s interior design lacks the flair of more charismatic rivals
The BMW X4’s stylish minimalist cabin doesn’t have the same wow factor as a Mercedes GLC Coupe’s elegant swooping centre console design. However, almost every piece of plastic trim on the dashboard and centre console feels soft and yielding and you’ll have to reach right down into the door bins before you’ll find any hard brittle plastics.
Unlike in the Mercedes GLC Coupe, even the entry-level BMW X4 comes with real leather seats and you can choose from five colour options. You also get six-colour mood lighting as standard, even in entry-level Sport models.
Step up to an M Sport or M Sport X model and you get a combination of more supportive leather seats than standard Sport versions and polished aluminium trims with a neat hexagonal pattern across the dashboard and doors. High-spec M Sport X models also come with a panoramic glass roof that makes the BMW X4’s cabin feel much airier – especially in the back.
Yes the GLC Coupe’s interior is easier on the eye, but there’s no doubting the BMW’s build quality - it’s solid as a rock...
In Sport trim, the BMW X4 comes with a 6.5-inch infotainment display up on the dashboard. Its menus are logically laid out and the reasonably high-resolution screen is easy to read on the move.
You get a few handy shortcut buttons down on the centre console and an intuitive scroll wheel to help you click through the various menus without taking your eyes off the road for too long. It’s certainly easier to use than the system in the Mercedes GLC Coupe.
Satellite navigation comes as standard across the BMW X4 range and it’s easy to input a postcode using either the on-screen keyboard or the touchpad on top of the scroll-wheel. It gives clear, easy-to-follow directions and it’s a doddle to add or remove waypoints from your route.
Pick a higher-spec M Sport model – or pay extra for the Professional Navigation pack – and you’ll get a larger 10.3-inch infotainment display, but only BMW’s optional Technology Package comes with the extra digital driver’s display. This high-resolution screen replaces conventional analogue speedo and rev-counter dials, much like an Audi Q5’s Virtual Cockpit system. It certainly makes the BMW X4 feel far more futuristic than the relatively old-fashioned Mercedes GLC Coupe.
You can even get the BMW X4 with a high-resolution head-up-display system that’ll beam your speed, the current speed limit and upcoming sat-nav directions onto the windscreen. It costs quite a bit extra, but it’s both larger and sharper than the similar systems you can get in an Audi or Mercedes.
The aforementioned Technology Pack also comes with gesture controls for the stereo. Spin your finger in front of the central screen and you can raise or lower the stereo volume – to the inevitable amazement of your younger passengers. More useful is the ability to dismiss potentially awkward phone calls with a satisfying swipe of your hand – but it’s a shame the gestures aren’t consistently recognised by the system.
However, no BMW X4 comes with Android Auto smartphone mirroring and you have to pay extra for Apple CarPlay if you want to use your iPhone’s navigation and music streaming apps through the X4’s built-in screen. That seems mighty stingy.
The standard stereo is fairly loud and reasonably bassy but you can upgrade to either a BMW Advanced system or (if you’re a serious audiophile) a more expensive Harman Kardon unit. The latter’s a step above BMW’s own systems in terms of sound quality but it’s still not quite as good as the optional Burmester unit you can get in the Mercedes GLC Coupe.