NOT A HATCH­BACK 2018 BMW X2 xdrive28i

BMW CALLS IT A SPORT AC­TIV­ITY COUPE. BUT WHAT IS IT, RE­ALLY?

Motor Trend (USA) - - Contents - Chris Wal­ton

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.

Per­for­mance

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

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