Style over util­ity at a price: $2K more than an X1

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - JOHN CAREY

Low-pro­file X1 puts suave ahead of space

DID SOME­ONE in Mu­nich for­get to hit the ‘Caps Lock’ key? BMW’S new small cross­over SUV is more ‘x’ than ‘X’. The X2 is, in essence, a lower-case X1. The dif­fer­ence in height is a lit­tle more than 70mm, and the X2 is also al­most 80mm shorter over­all, with an iden­ti­cal wheel­base. Also shared are en­gines, trans­mis­sions, and chas­sis com­po­nents.

The five-door body of the X2 was penned with the aim of at­tract­ing the kind of cus­tomer who would never con­sider the X1, ac­cord­ing to project head Julius Schlup­p­kot­ten. And it does look en­tirely dif­fer­ent, chiefly be­cause not a sin­gle panel is shared.

“When we started the car we had very clearly the idea to fo­cus on younger cus­tomers,” says Schlup­p­kot­ten, re­call­ing the X2’s em­bry­onic stage three or four years ago. The pumped-up hatch­back look should ap­peal to city dwellers who value style over prac­ti­cal­ity, with a pinch of added park­ing ease thrown in, he ar­gues.

While the BMW roundel on the X2’s C-pil­lar is a de­signer’s nod in the di­rec­tion of clas­sic 1970s metal like the 3.0 CSL coupe, the X2’s in­te­rior em­braces thor­oughly mod­ern no­tions of prac­ti­cal­ity, flex­i­bil­ity and tech­nol­ogy.

The in­stru­ments, in­stru­ment panel, and in­fo­tain­ment in­ter­face all have the kind of el­e­gant clar­ity that spells pre­mium. Trim ma­te­ri­als are like­wise classy.

The front seats are shapely and sup­port­ive, and there’s room for two adults in the three-place rear seat. The 470-litre cargo area is 35L smaller than the X1’s.

BMW’S chas­sis en­gi­neers say the X2’s lower stance and shorter over­hangs give it a dy­namic head start com­pared to the X1. To en­sure the new­comer is more agile, they added a lit­tle neg­a­tive cam­ber to the front sus­pen­sion and spec­i­fied stiffer springs and dif­fer­ent dampers.

The X2 is quite agile … for a com­pact SUV. Its feel-free steer­ing is quick and pre­cise. But the firm sus­pen­sion is bor­der­line bru­tal over mis­aligned mo­tor­way slab joints and is both­er­somely busy on poorly sur­faced roads. Tyre noise can be tire­some on coar­sechip sur­faces too, and there was no­tice­able wind noise from the ex­te­rior rear-view mir­rors.

BMW brought only the all­wheel-drive xdrive 20d vari­ant with the M Sport X pack­age to the in­ter­na­tional launch in Por­tu­gal. Its 2.0-litre turbo-diesel and eight-speed auto de­liv­ers de­cent per­for­mance, but the front-drive sdrive 20i with 2.0-litre petrol en­gine and seven-speed dual­clutch, will in­tro­duce the X2 to Aus­tralians in March.

It will wear a $55,900 price tag, a lit­tle over $2000 more cap­i­tal than an X1 with the same driv­e­train.

Model BMW X2 sdrive 20i En­gine 1998cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo Max power 141kw @ 5000-6000rpm Max torque 280Nm @ 1350-4600rpm Trans­mis­sion 7-speed dual-clutch Weight 1535kg 0-100km/h 7.7sec (claimed) Econ­omy 5.9L/100km Price $55,900 On sale March

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