‘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 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.
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.
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