NOT A HATCHBACK 2018 BMW X2 xdrive28i
BMW CALLS IT A SPORT ACTIVITY COUPE. BUT WHAT IS IT, REALLY?
BMW calls it a Sport Activity Coupe. But what is it, really?
With X1, X3, X4, X5, and X6 in showrooms, that conspicuous blank space in BMW’S X Series lineup has now been filled (rather obviously) with the X2, a vehicle BMW describes as a Sport Activity Coupe.
We regret to inform the automotive marketing cabal, but in our book, vehicles with four doors aren’t coupes, regardless of their rooflines. The EPA calls the 2018 BMW X2 a midsize car, and NHTSA calls it an SUV. The high seating position indeed feels like a premium compact SUV. But the way it drives certainly reminds us of a hatchback—and a rather good one.
Our fully kitted all-wheel-drive X2 xdrive28i (starting at $39,395; front-drive versions start at $37,395) totaled $50,920 as tested. Before you spit your kombucha and say, “Not a chance I’d pay that for a tall BMW hatchback,” here’s a partial list of standard equipment: all-wheel drive, remote entry, automatic wipers, cruise control, 18-inch alloy wheels, a powered/ programmable hatch lid, and LED head/ fog/cornering/taillamps. Inside, you get a rearview camera, two-zone auto climate control, 10-way power front seats, and seven-speaker 205-watt audio with HD radio. And so on.
It’s not uncommon for press vehicles like this one to be loaded up so we can
evaluate everything it has to offer. If you aren’t a fan of the Galvanic Gold metallic paint, your phone isn’t wireless chargeable, and you live in the Sun Belt and don’t need all-wheel drive, there’s $3,050 off the top right there. Let’s see what works and what doesn’t.
Following what’s become the auto industry’s best practice and worst-kept secret, the all-new X2 shares the same UKL2 architecture with the BMW’S X1 and the Mini Countryman. (Rival Mercedes-benz does the same thing with the GLA 250 and Infiniti QX30S). The three BMW/MINI siblings share a 105.1-inch wheelbase and have nearly the same track width, but what’s interesting is that the X2’s roof is actually 2.8 inches lower (3.2 inches with M Sport suspension) than the more traditionally styled X1 and 1.2–1.6 inches lower than the boxy Countryman. Although the X1 and Countryman do feel similar on the road, the X2 feels (and performs) separate and superior.
Despite similar scale and proportions, the X2 is also the sleekest-looking variant. Thin A-pillars mean forward visibility is excellent, but its short greenhouse does feel a little confining—a concession to the new design. There’s a narrowed view from the rearview mirror back through the abbreviated rear glass. Rear leg- and headroom are adequate, but for anyone taller than 6 feet, it will feel tight—especially when confronted by the knee-thumping hard plastic panels of the front seat backs.
The X2 offers 21.6 cubic feet of cargo space with all seats occupied, and folding down the 40/20/40 split rear seats increases that to 50.1 cubic feet. There’s also a false floor in the back that affords an additional 3.3 cubic feet beneath. To put all this in hatchback terms, one of our favorites, the Volkswagen Golf GTI, offers less volume with seats up (17.4 cubic feet) but more (53.7 cubic feet) with seats folded. Compared to crossovers, it’s a bit less than what you’d get with a subcompact Honda HR-V.
Like the X1 and Countryman, the X2 can be driven with BMW’S B48 2.0-liter direct-injected turbo-four through an eight-speed automatic. Depending on the U.S. application, the B48 engine makes from 181 (BMW 220i) to 255 horsepower (740e iperformance). In the X2 xdrive28i, it makes 228 hp at 5,000 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque at 1,450 rpm.
At the drag strip, our X2 zipped to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, or a half second quicker than an identically powered (slightly heavier) X1 and a full second ahead of a Mini Cooper S Countryman All4. The X2 needed 14.9 seconds to reach the quarter mile at 92.2 mph. By comparison, a 2018 VW Golf GTI (DSG) needed 6.0 seconds to reach 60 mph and 14.5 to cover the quarter mile.
Funny thing is, despite their differing hp ratings (and different weights), the across-the-board acceleration of the X2 xdrive28i, X3 xdrive30i, and X4 xdrive28i varies by a 0.1 second or less. In all of these, however, turbo lag must be accepted, and drivers should be prepared. It’s the sort of thing one would notice when, say, timing a turn onto or across a busy street. After applying the throttle at a dead stop, there’s a count of “one thousand one” before the turbo pressurizes.
Our X2 was enhanced with the $400 M Sport adjustable dampers (lowering it by 0.4 inch) and the $4,650 M Sportx package (which includes 19-inch alloy wheels with 225/45R19 run-flat summer tires, a sport-tuned transmission, a sportthemed exterior package, and a host of other add-ons).
Those low-profile summer tires do add slight graininess and road noise to the otherwise supple and quiet experience, but combined with the flat-cornering M Sport dampers, they also add to the X2’s performance. Nailing the firm brake pedal from 60 mph brought our X2 to a halt in just 111 feet (three times in a row); that’s 11–12 feet shorter than our previous X1, X3, or X4 tests. What’s more is that the X2’s best figure-eight time (25.9 seconds) and skidpad performance (0.92 g) undercut not only the X1, X3, and X4 ( by 0.9–1.3 seconds and 0.07–0.11 g) but also the VW GTI with its 26.1-second best lap and 0.91 g on the skidpad. It might look soft, but the X2 is a legit player.
So this wee hatchback—umm, sport activity vehicle—costs about 50 grand. What would we cut to make it slightly less wallet busting? We’d keep the options that make the X2 xdrive28i the hot-hatch performer that it is, but we could easily get along without the Premium package ($2,600), Harman Kardon audio ($875), parking sonar ($800), active safety systems ($700), polarizing paint ($550), wireless phone charger ($500), and M rear spoiler ($150). Scrap all that, and wince as you dump Apple Carplay ($300): This hauls our X2’s price down to a more reasonable $44,445.
Although that’s still a big number for a top-tier hatchback, it’s hard to describe or assign a value to the sense that the X2 feels premium in a way that neither the X1 nor the Mini Countryman ever have. Just a mile behind the wheel had us saying, “Wow, this feels so different, so much better than I expected from the platform.” The steering is more sophisticated, the dampers are terrific, the interior packaging—though similar in layout to an X1— looks fresher and more upscale, and the exterior styling has won us over.
Even non-car people went out of their way to ask questions about the X2. “Is that a new BMW?” they wondered. And in varying shades of breathlessness: “Do you like it?” It turns out the explanation is a rather complicated “Yes.” n