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Driven: BMW X2. Image by BMW UK.

Driven: BMW X2
BMWs unusual coupe-ish SUV, the X2, tested for a week in sporty petrol guise. How does it fare?

   



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BMW X2 sDrive20i M Sport

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: striking looks, lovely cabin, decent amount of space onboard, great drivetrain, sharp BMW handling, good ride and refinement

Not so good: not massively inexpensive; also, you kind of wonder why BMW needs either the X1 or X3, given this is so good...

Key Facts

Model tested: BMW X2 sDrive20i M Sport
Price: X2 range starts from 27,950; sDrive20i M Sport from 35,040
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: seven-speed Steptronic Sport dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door crossover-SUV
CO2 emissions: 136g/km (VED Band 131-150: 205 in year one, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 47.1mpg
Top speed: 141mph
0-62mph: 7.7 seconds
Power: 192hp at 5,000-6,000rpm
Torque: 280Nm at 1,350-4,600rpm
Boot space: 470-1,355 litres

Our view:

When BMW launched the X2 - neatly filling an obvious alphanumeric gap in its then-five-strong SUV line-up, that otherwise ran X1 to X6 - it wasn't the contentious C-pillar roundel that bothered us. No; rather, it was the entire look of the thing. While the legendary E9 CS coupes of the 1960s and 1970s were the last Beemers to wear the blue-and-white marque propeller next to their Hofmeister kink, and thus the X2's use of the same styling signifier seemed to enrage diehard fans of the German company, we couldn't get as worked up about that when the general, 'squashed-X1' appearance bothered us far more.

You see, even-numbered BMW X models are like odd-numbered Star Trek films in the original, pre-reboot canon - they're normally a bit pants. The X4, which we quite like in Mk2 guise, is nevertheless an X3 with what some would consider gauche looks and less practicality, for more money. Ditto the X5-based X6, although that one is hideously ugly. But, love them or hate them, it cannot be denied that at least both the X4 and X6 are obvious coupes, with sloping rear screens and lower overall roof heights than their regular counterparts.

The X2, though, appeared to be nothing more than a slightly-different-shaped X1. Same five-door body, same (largely) upright rear. And, if we're honest, a more grotesque appearance than its more prosaic sibling - the initial press pics did not fill us with good thoughts.

However, having now had an X2 M Sport in the striking Misano Blue metallic, we're absolutely prepared to say we were totally wrong - in fact, the X2 might be BMW's best-looking SUV/crossover-thing yet. It has wonderful, upswept headlights that give it a real scowl, inverted kidney grilles which are just that - separate grilles, and not the colossal one-piece items that are afflicting larger and future BMWs, it has a sleek and narrow glasshouse, those raked wheel arches, the bootlid which fits flush to the bumper (a neat trick which involves layering plastic over the pressed steel of the hatch itself, in order to satisfy crash-testing regs), some large-bore, twin-spaced exhausts and the huge (optional) 20-inch alloy wheels... in short, it looks great. Really expensive, tautly styled and yet not offensively brash in the slightest.

If you were being super-harsh, then inside you might say the black-panel analogue instrument cluster and plain interior layout give the X2 an air of being a BMW from the old-school of cabin design, but actually everything is beautifully put-together, perfectly laid-out and utterly crisp to behold with the eye. A superb head-up display and iDrive 6 give the X2 enough of a techy air to satisfy those who might otherwise have been looking for gesture control and a TFT dash, and - what's this? A lovely, round steering wheel? With just the perfect diameter of rim? How delightful.

Delightful, also, is the way the X2 is packaged. It might be the more rakish twin of the X1, but it doesn't seem to lose much in the way of practicality as a result. While we've always admired the X4 and X6 for remaining usefully big on the inside - in terms of rear-seat space and cargo capacity - despite their hallmark descending rooflines, they're not quite as good at maximising their road footprint as the X2 is. The boot's a 470-litre whopper with all chairs in play and people made to sit in the back of the BMW will not feel like they've been relegated to the cheap, cramped seats. In fact, they might wonder why anyone would look at the closely-related MINI Countryman instead, apart from saving a few quid on purchase price (which will likely be negated by a negligible difference in PCP monthly payments).

Talking of MINIs, this particular sDrive20i is basically running the same drivetrain as a MINI Cooper S with the dual-clutch gearbox, as BMW only offers a manual transmission on the X2 models with 18i or 18d badging. Indeed, as an sDrive, the 192hp/280Nm offered up by the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol unit is all sent to the front axle - BMW does do xDrive X2s, but all-wheels traction is only available on the diesels: an option on the 18d, standard-fit on the 20d. As yet, no petrol X2 has the option of four-wheel drive, although we can't imagine it's too far off yet.

Not that you'll miss it. The FWD X2 drives almost identically to the aforementioned MINI Cooper S, only with a bit more refinement, a quite astonishing level of ride comfort, given it is on firm, M Sport fixed-rate suspension and 20-inch alloys, and a real sense of peace and quiet in the passenger compartment. We spent 11 hours in the X2, covering nearly 450 miles in a week, and it never once came across as crashy or ill-mannered on a wide spread of British road surfaces. Better still, it gave back an average economy of 40.6mpg in that time, and even achieved more like 47-50mpg on a long motorway run.

In terms of the handling, it's not like the X2 is hugely scintillating in the corners, but it's more composed, enjoyable and upright than some of its less sporty rivals in the sector. The steering is smooth and precise, if not brimming in feel, while the engine (which is, in the main, subdued) makes all the right noises when you decide to rev the sDrive20i out. And when you do, the performance is really quite rapid; maybe feeling even punchier than its on-paper stats might suggest. The twin-clutch gearbox fitted to this car is good, if not as hyper-slick as BMW's ZF-sourced eight-speed 'full' Steptronic auto (i.e., the one with a torque converter), and it reacts well to both throttle inputs when it's in 'D' and paddle-clicks when it's in 'M'. And while we found the driving experience of the MINI Cooper S a little too urbane and smoothed-off for our liking - it is a hot hatch, after all - such reserved mannerisms are not a problem for a crossover like the X2.

All of which means that we found ourselves incredibly surprised by the X2. Thinking it would be nothing more than an X1 hobbled by its pretensions to sportiness, it's actually our favourite X BMW this side of an X5. It's cultured, it's comfortable, it remains practical, it looks great and it has a sharp enough chassis to prove itself pleasantly engaging, if the right roads and circumstances present themselves. Indeed, as no other manufacturer really makes a coupe-SUV at this sort of price point, you could say the X2 sDrive20i is a supremely talented, trailblazing pioneer in a new market segment. That is, unless the C-pillar roundel makes you want to choke BMW's entire marketing team in a fit of pique...

Alternatives:

Audi Q2: as the X2 is based on the X1, technically the Q2 is smaller than the X2. And the Audi doesn't look as nice, nor is it as well packaged in the back as the BMW is, so it's a win for the X2.

Mercedes-Benz GLA: slowly winding down production in its current guise as the A-Class it is based upon morphs into the Mk4, and the demise of the GLA is not to be lamented. In truth, it's not a great crossover.

Volvo XC40: the stylish new kid on the block certainly has the X2 - much as we like the Beemer - licked for visual appeal. But is the BMW actually the better crossover to drive? It certainly feels better when it comes to handling...


Matt Robinson - 16 Aug 2018



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2018 BMW X2 sDrive20i M Sport. Image by BMW UK.2018 BMW X2 sDrive20i M Sport. Image by BMW UK.2018 BMW X2 sDrive20i M Sport. Image by BMW UK.2018 BMW X2 sDrive20i M Sport. Image by BMW UK.2018 BMW X2 sDrive20i M Sport. Image by BMW UK.

2018 BMW X2 sDrive20i M Sport. Image by BMW UK.2018 BMW X2 sDrive20i M Sport. Image by BMW UK.2018 BMW X2 sDrive20i M Sport. Image by BMW UK.2018 BMW X2 sDrive20i M Sport. Image by BMW UK.2018 BMW X2 sDrive20i M Sport. Image by BMW UK.








 

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