Combining bold styling with off-road ability, BMW is planning a X3 SUV-based coupe to create a new niche in the hugely popular SUV market.

Combining bold styling with off-road ability, BMW is planning a X3 SUV-based coupe to create a new niche in the hugely popular SUV market.

The design will be very bold and largely based on the X Coupé concept (pictured) seen at the Detroit Motor Show in 2001. The car used in the show was influential since it was the first vehicle to use BMW's often controversial 'flame surface' styling technique.

However, the coupe - to be called the X4 - will be less dramatic than the concept. reported that the X4 will have a low roofline and long nose with chunky wheel arches. Since it will be smaller than the X3, it will also be lighter and more manoeuvrable than the SUV while maintaining its off-road capabilities.

Beneath the surface, the coupe closely resembles its SUV sibling and includes the innovative xDrive system. It will also be fitted with the latest Valvetronic engines in 2,2- and 3,0-litre petrol and 2,0- and 3,0-litre turbodiesel guises. While there are apparently no plans to produce an M model, the flagship could eventually be propelled by a petrol 4,0-litre V8.

Transmission options will include five- and six-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmissions.

On the inside, the X4 will maintain BMW's minimalist approach, albeit with beefier seats and more rugged fittings. Front occupants and a roomy storage area will take precedence on the inside, though rear seats will be available too.

Due for sale during 2007, the off-road coupe will probably be unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show. With the US targeted as one of its primary markets, it will be aimed at affluent buyers requiring an alternative lifestyle vehicle.