At the debut press conference today for the 2015 BMW X4, a BMW executive said that "being first in new segments is what BMW is all about." I will tell you that after sitting in it, what BMW is not all about is rear seat headroom — at least, not in this thing.
BMW's "X-vehicles," or SUVs, are a really big deal. One in four Bimmers sold has an X in front of its numbers, and while the X6 "Sports Activity Coupe" isn't a huge volume seller, it gets a lot of attention from the public and has spawned quite a few copycats. Hence, the smaller, cheaper X4 will be a pretty big deal to them.
I'm on the fence about the X4. On one hand, we at Jalopnik like ridiculous vehicles, and the X4 is indeed ridiculous. On the other hand, its sloping roofline — while attractive from some angles — destroys much of the reason you buy an SUV over a sedan, which is practicality. Mainly I wondered how much rear seat headroom was sacrificed in the name of style on the X4.
So I, Jalopnik Senior Handsomeness Correspondent Patrick George, sought to find out the only way I knew how: by sitting in the back of one.
See that? Not much room back there.
First, a little about myself: I'm 5'11" inches tall and, as of this writing, about 175 pounds. (I also enjoy long walks on the beach, farm-to-table restaurants, and spending years planning revenge against my enemies.) I think I'm about average-ish height for an American man, but I'm certainly not as tall as some.
For me, the X4 was comfortable in terms of headroom, but there was little space between my head and roof. Maybe three or four inches, something like that. The headliner dips down in the center where the dome light is, making it feel even more claustrophobic. If I were taller — say, as a friend of mine who is 6'4" — I don't know how I'd squeeze back there at all.
It feels like it has less headroom than, say, a 2015 Chrysler 200, another car that's been dinged by some critics for rear space. Rear legroom felt fine to me, though. It's also not as bad as the rear seats in most coupes, like the Hyundai Genesis Coupe or the Ford Mustang. But it could be tight for some.
Some people will tell you it's not the size of your rear headroom that counts, but what you do with it. (I for one have never had this problem, so I have no clue if that's true or not.)
You also face some compromises with trunk space thanks to that sloping roof. Some SUVs can be used to haul full-sized safes away from your ex-wife's house in the dead of night while she's sleeping. Don't ask me how I know that. Anyway, it's a lot tougher to do that here.
Granted, the rear seats in the larger X6 aren't known for their generous rear headroom either. But more importantly, like the X6, the X4 is a "statement car." People buy it for style reasons, emotional reasons, not really because of practicality. If they needed that, they'd buy an X3 or an X5.
Will the lack of rear head space really matter on this car? I kind of doubt it. The people who want one will buy one, same as the X6. Maybe they'll just do it to punish their tall friends is all.
Photos credit Brian Williams