‘Coupé-styled’ sib­ling of the X1 small SUV

The new sharp-suited sib­ling of the X1 trades a lit­tle prac­ti­cal­ity for a lot more style – and should ap­peal to a younger sub­set of BMW buy­ers On sale Now Price £33,980

What Car? - - Contents - Alan Tay­lor-jones Alan.tay­lor-jones@hay­mar­ket.com

WHAT IS THE BMW X2? Ac­cord­ing to the mar­ket­ing blurb, it’s a ‘sports ac­tiv­ity coupé’ that aims to blend the rak­ish looks of a tra­di­tional coupé with the raised driv­ing po­si­tion and func­tion­al­ity of an SUV – just like its big­ger X4 and X6 sib­lings.

To you and me, the X2 is in ef­fect a less prac­ti­cal X1 wear­ing an avant-garde out­fit. It is based on BMW’S small-car ar­chi­tec­ture that’s shared with the X1, 2 Se­ries Ac­tive and Gran Tourer and Mini Countryman. And although the dis­tance be­tween the wheels is the same in the X1 and X2, BMW has low­ered the X2’s roof by a cou­ple of inches, short­ened the tail and made it look a lot an­grier.

While you wouldn’t go as far as to call the re­sults pretty, in the metal it does have

plenty of pres­ence. That’s es­pe­cially true of the M Sport X model pic­tured here. This model gets big 19in wheels as stan­dard and a slather of grey de­tail­ing to em­pha­sise its SUV look. A shouty colour pal­ette, in­clud­ing the Gal­vanic Gold hue of our test car, en­sures ev­ery­one will think you’re a hip young thing, too. Prob­a­bly.

De­spite the X2’s more com­pact di­men­sions, it’s still big­ger than the Audi Q2 and Mercedesbenz GLA. That puts the X2 up against the likes of the Audi Q3 and Jaguar E-pace, as well as cheaper SUVS such as the Seat Ateca in terms of size.

Under the bon­net is a range of en­gines that will be fa­mil­iar to any­one who has seen an X1 brochure. Ini­tially, BMW are of­fer­ing a choice of the 2.0-litre petrol, sdrive20i, and the 2.0-litre diesel, xdrive20d. The for­mer is bolted to a seven-speed au­to­matic gear­box with front-wheel drive, while the lat­ter is fit­ted to an eight-speed auto ’box with four-wheel drive. Less pow­er­ful petrol and diesel en­gines will fol­low in the next cou­ple of months, along with a four-wheel-drive petrol model.

GOOD ROAD MAN­NERS

So far, the only en­gine we’ve sam­pled is the xdrive20d, which BMW pre­dicts will be the best seller in the UK. Like other 20-badged BMW mod­els, the diesel en­gine pro­duces a hefty 187bhp – enough for a 0-62mph time of 7.7sec that would em­bar­rass more than a few ju­nior hot hatches.

That power is avail­able from low revs, mak­ing the en­gine easy to whizz up to mo­tor­way speeds without hav­ing to thrash it to within an inch of its life. Help­ing mat­ters is the eight-speed au­to­matic gear­box that can slur smoothly be­tween ra­tios when you’re driv­ing sen­si­bly, yet shifts swiftly when you take con­trol us­ing the pad­dle shifters be­hind the steer­ing wheel.

How­ever, it isn’t all good news from the en­gine room. While this diesel mo­tor is strong, ca­pa­ble of de­cent fuel econ­omy and emits lit­tle CO2, con­sid­er­ing the four-wheel drive gub­bins, it’s also pretty un­re­fined. Not only do you hear the clat­ter of the en­gine at idle and when ac­cel­er­at­ing, you feel it through the steer­ing wheel and ped­als, too.

In terms of steer­ing, we found our test car to have a well-weighted wheel that al­lowed you to ac­cu­rately place the nose of the X2 on the road. And while we would have wel­comed slightly more feed­back through the steer­ing wheel, the sys­tem is con­fi­dence-in­spir­ing enough to al­low you to at­tack a B-road with gusto.

When you cor­ner en­thu­si­as­ti­cally, you’ll no­tice there’s an ini­tial bit of body lean

‘Trac­tion out of cor­ners is ex­cel­lent, thanks to the four­wheel drive sys­tem’

be­fore the X2 wres­tles back con­trol and grips tena­ciously. Trac­tion out of cor­ners is ex­cel­lent, thanks to the four-wheel drive sys­tem, and if you do push it a lit­tle bit too hard the X2 runs wide at the front in a pre­dictable man­ner. It’s not the most thrilling drive, but most buy­ers are un­likely to be dis­ap­pointed by the han­dling.

There is a price to pay for the X2’s agility, though. On the 19in wheels and low-pro­file tyres of our test car, rough road sur­faces and sharp-edged bumps cause you to be jos­tled around in your seat un­com­fort­ably, es­pe­cially at low speeds. We’d rec­om­mend stick­ing to the smaller wheels and con­sid­er­ing the op­tional adap­tive dampers that al­low you to slacken the sus­pen­sion for a com­fier ride. It’s also worth not­ing that cer­tain sur­faces drum up an aw­ful lot of road noise, mak­ing for some­times noisy cruis­ing.

That’s a shame be­cause the in­te­rior is on the whole a great place to be. One thing we must men­tion is the height of the driv­ing po­si­tion; it isn’t vastly taller than a reg­u­lar hatch­back. If you’re ex­pect­ing a truly com­mand­ing driv­ing po­si­tion, you might be dis­ap­pointed.

CLASSY IN­TE­RIOR

Although the over­all lay­out of the dash is much the same as you’d find in an X1, BMW has made ef­forts to make it look no­tice­ably snazz­ier. Ap­peal­ing trim pieces and con­trast stitch­ing on the seats and dash, along with re­shaped and up­hol­stered han­dles, make the in­te­rior feel even more high-qual­ity than the X1’s; no mean feat since that car has one of the best-screwed­to­gether fam­ily SUV in­te­ri­ors out there.

You also get the most im­pres­sive in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem on the mar­ket today. BMW’S idrive uses a ro­tary dial lo­cated be­tween the seats to con­trol the stan­dard 6.5in screen that is mounted high on the dash­board. If you pre­fer, the screen is also touch-sen­si­tive to make it eas­ier to in­put ad­dresses when you’re sta­tion­ary.

Of course, BMW took the op­por­tu­nity to up­grade our test car’s sys­tem to the op­tional 8.8in screen. It’s just as easy to nav­i­gate but ben­e­fits from sharper graph­ics, bet­ter sat-nav and a touch-sen­si­tive pad on top of the ro­tary dial, giv­ing you

a third method of en­ter­ing text. It’s an op­tion that’s well worth con­sid­er­ing.

While space up front is good, things are a lit­tle tighter for rear pas­sen­gers. The lower roofline re­duces head room to the point where a six-footer will find their head very close to the ceil­ing. Leg room is bet­ter, although the X2 misses out on the X1’s slid­ing rear bench, mean­ing you can’t switch be­tween pri­ori­tis­ing pas­sen­ger or boot space. What you do get is the op­tion to re­cline the rear bench – some­thing that can help max­imise the amount of rear head room avail­able.

Two av­er­age-sized adults will be fairly com­fort­able in the back, but three will find it a bit of a squeeze. The cen­tral seat perches you much higher and you have to strad­dle a big hump in the floor, too. It’s not quite wide enough to pre­vent all three rear oc­cu­pants from feel­ing hemmed in.

PRAC­TI­CAL BOOT

Things are bet­ter when it comes to boot space. Yes, the shorter rear over­hang does re­duce avail­able space when com­pared with the X1, but there’s still 470 litres. That’s slightly less than what you get in the GLA, but sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter than in the Q3. Not only is the boot a de­cent size, it’s a use­ful square shape with handy nets, elas­ti­cated straps and a 12V socket. Should you want more space, you get 40/20/40 split­fold­ing rear seats as stan­dard. In fact, the only black mark against the X2’s boot is that there is a bit of a load lip to heave lug­gage over.

Would we rec­om­mend the X2? Well, there’s no doubt­ing that it has a fantastic in­te­rior, an easy-to-use in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, a strong – if at times un­re­fined – diesel en­gine and tidy han­dling. The trou­ble is that, ul­ti­mately, an X1 of­fers far greater prac­ti­cal­ity and an in­te­rior that’s almost as plush, for less money.

Even then, we’d still rec­om­mend the Volvo XC40. It may not have a swoopy roofline, but it’s ar­guably just as dis­tinc­tive and more prac­ti­cal. It also doesn’t suf­fer from the X2’s biggest prob­lem: its un­com­fort­able ride. Con­sid­er­ing the amount of pot­holed roads that we have in the UK, we sus­pect the X2 will be­come wear­ing very quickly, es­pe­cially in the ur­ban cut and thrust. Here’s hop­ing that a smaller-wheeled car with the op­tional adap­tive dampers goes some way to­wards fix­ing this prob­lem.

The X2 is a coupé-styled SUV that shares many com­po­nents with the X1

1 In­te­rior feels of high qual­ity, with con­trast stitch­ing on the seats and dash 2 2 The driv­ing po­si­tion isn’t no­tice­ably higher than that of a reg­u­lar hatch­back 3 All X2s come with BMW’S idrive in­fo­tain­ment and navigation sys­tem 3 4 4 Our test car...

The X2 has a slop­ing roo ine that drops 70mm at the rear

M Sport X kit in­cludes grey wheel arch trim and 19in rims

There’s good front head and leg room, even for tall driv­ers

The X2 gets 40/20/40 split-fold­ing rear seats as stan­dard

Head room is tight in the X2 for tall rear pas­sen­gers

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