Porsche has a Macan Turbo model that BMW does not have an answer for. That is why this comparison is between the Macan S Diesel with its 3.0 liter turbo V6 offering 255 horsepower and 427 lb-ft of torque and the BMW X4 xDrive30d with its 255 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque. The Macan does not use an automatic though and has a seven speed dual clutch transmission. It also comes in cheaper than the X4.
For the US audience a comparison between the Macan S and X4 xDrive35i would be more interesting but Autocar is based in Europe so we see the diesels. They drag race the two of them and it is basically neck and neck with the X4 taking it by a hair. If acceleration is the goal one should pick the Macan S or Turbo which will handily beat the xDrive35i in a drag race.
The X4 gets praise from Autocar as to how it drives and handles. Not all that surprising as it is essentially just an X3. The Macan also gets high praise especially for its chassis. The Macan does seem to have a sportier character to it.
This is really not that complicated. The X4 is just an X3 in drag. The Macan is an all new platform and offers higher performance models. The Macan S also can be said to be a bargain compared to the X4. Autocar picks the Macan. It is the better choice especially from a driving pleasure and performance standpoint.