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More style than substance, but sometimes you need a little more flair.

Sportier than the X1 SUV, the X2 tries to add style and panache without sacrificing practicality.

By Phil Huff
Jun 25, 2020
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£40,585 BMW X2 xDrive20d M Sport
Pros:
  • Stands out from ordinary SUV rivals
  • Handling is strong for a heavy crossover
  • High quality interior is a pleasure to spend time in
Cons:
  • Poor visibility thanks to the rising body and large c-pillar
  • Manual gearbox only available on lower-spec models
  • Gets expensive quickly

Introduction

Does a compact SUV seem a bit much for you, but a traditional hatchback just doesn’t ooze style? Fortunately, BMW has a model to meet your needs - of course it does! - and that’s the X2.

It takes the current X1’s chassis, keeps all the sensible bits of engineering, and then replaces the body with something more stylish and appealing. It sits a little lower to the ground and isn’t quite as long but, as it shares the same underpinning, the wheelbase and width are exactly the same.

Stylistically, it leads to a car with a split personality, all business on the lower half but ready for fun on top. There’s tough-looking plastic cladding on M Sport X models that accentuate the cars width and pseudo-SUV stance, with kidney grilles at the front of the car that are wider at the bottom than top. The headlights sweep back into a line that runs the length of the car and leads visually to that rear pillar and the winy BMW badge placed in the middle of it.

You pay more for, arguably, less, so is the X2 worth considering over any of the other myriad SUVs available?

On The Road

BMW X2

Performance

We’re driving the two-litre diesel, which combines exceptional economy with refreshing performance. There’s 190hp on offer, combined with 400Nm of torque, which sounds enough to be fun, but the X2 weighs a considerable 1.6 tonnes.

Despite that, it pulls to 62mph in just 7.7 seconds, the eight-speed automatic gearbox shifting ratios as you go almost imperceptibly. Cruising along, it’s quick to lift up its sills and pack a punch for an overtaking move, with plenty of go from all speeds thanks to torque available from 1,750rpm.

A lower power diesel, the 18d, gives up 40hp and a couple of seconds off the sprint time, but saves fuel and lowers emissions. Petrol options consist of the 18i and 20i, with 140 and 192hp and near-identical performance levels to the diesel options.

The more demanding can order an M35i, with its 306hp and sportscar rivalling five-second standing start time. The more eco-conscious will shortly be able to order a 148mpg plug-in hybrid version, the xDrive25e.

BMW X2

Ride Handling

You might expect the X2 to behave in exactly the same way as an X1, considering how much is shared between the two cars, but the more stylish X2 is also the better steer.

The suspension has been adjusted and the dampers beefed up, while the bodywork is 10% stiffer than the X1. That all translates into a vehicle with more agility than you might expect, with the X2 positively enjoying corners. Tick the M Sport box on the order form, as the team did for this car, and the suspension is lowered a little, with wide, 19-inch wheels attached that offer plenty of grip.

Diesel models are four-wheel-drive, but the car behaves as a front-wheel-drive car most of the time. Only when traction demands exceed the available grip does the car send power to the rear wheels, helping balance the car and increase stability.

You can specify adaptive suspension for a small fee, and that’s probably worth spending the money on. It’s too firm in Sport mode, although the constant movement jiggling through the car makes progress feel faster. Comfort mode smooths things out and makes for a far more refined ride.

While that all sounds good, it's in context of the car being an SUV. It’s ultimately competent and predictable, but not particularly engaging. It’s good… for an SUV.

BMW X2

Refinement

Sports suspension and super-sized alloy wheels tend not to make for a particularly refined experience, and there’s certainly a fair amount of tyre noise that makes its way through to the cabin. Dropping down from an M Sport to an SE will undoubtedly improve matters, but then you’ll miss out on other things.

The ambience is let down at low speeds by the diesel engine, which is rattly when cold and idle. It improves as speed builds and, once warmed up and running at speed, settles down to a distant thrum. There’s little wind noise either, but the lack of noise in the cabin might explain why the tyres sound so loud.

Short of the latest 3 Series, the interior of the X2 is as good as BMW has managed. Subtly knurled metalwork with perforations that allow ambient lighting through really add an air of glamour to the interior, which is backed up by build quality that makes everything feel magnificent.

In The Car

BMW X2

Behind the Wheel

BMW used to promise you the ‘ultimate driving machine’ and it’s not forgotten the basics. The driving position is excellent, with a clear instrument panel dead ahead and steering-wheel buttons for many infotainment functions. It allows you to get on with the business of driving, but all minor controls are easy to deal with as well.

The infotainment screen sits to the left, which is now a touchscreen, although that feels something of an afterthought; the buttons are fiddly to press and it’s not entirely clear to use, but the now-traditional iDrive rotary controller between the seats makes operating it a cinch.

BMW X2

Space & Practicality

As a more aspirational product than the X1, it’s reasonable to expect the X2 to fall short on practicality. However, you’d be in for something of a surprise if you thought that way, as there’s plenty of positives about the rakish model.

The front half of the cabin is well-considered, with clever use of space to allow for storage of smaller items, and there’s even a decent-sized glovebox and room for a couple of cup holders.

Move to the rear and it’s less impressive, as the lower roofline robs passengers of significant amounts of headroom, while a chunky transmission tunnel means there’s nowhere for a centre passengers legs to go. Not that you’d want to be in the middle seat anyway. Adding to the woes, the small windows and swept up waistline leaves the cabin feeling dark and claustrophobic.

There’s good news for luggage though, as the boot can take 470 litres of family detritus. That’s smaller than the X1’s boot, but larger than the 1 Series hatchback.

Ownership

BMW X2

Running Costs

The heart must rule the head here, as you can’t escape the fact that the X2 costs more than the X1, yet you get less car. This test model creeps over the £40,000 mark which is a few thousand more than an equivalent BMW SUV. Still, residual prices are expected to be strong so lease and PCP rates should be competitive.

Diesel power is falling out of fashion, but you can’t argue with the 48.7mpg promised under the more demanding WLTP testing regime. Your experience may vary, but we got remarkably close to that figure during road testing, despite an occasional heavy right foot.

CO2 emissions, at 151g/km, are just high enough to hit the highest company car tax band. Lower power models save a little, but probably not enough to sway your decision.

BMW X2

Quality & Reliability

BMWs reputation for solidity is a double-edged sword, with customers demanding bulletproof reliability. Faults are magnified as expectations are broken, which goes some way to explaining BMW’s disappointing performance in the Auto Express Driver Power survey. The band finished in 25th overall and, while the X2 is too new to appear on the lists, its X1 cousin finished 56th out of 75 models.

The results of the JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study were even worse, with BMW coming last, although all the German premium manufacturers finished in the last six places.

BMW feels differently, backing every new car with a three-year warranty. The dealers are well regarded, too, generally sorting out problems without a quibble. It’s possible to extend the warranty further, but only up to 100,000 miles.

BMW X2

Safety & Security

The BMW X2 hasn’t been thoroughly tested by Euro NCAP for crash safety but, as the car shares a platform and almost all of its structure with the X1, the new model was put through a reduced programme of side, pole and leg impacts. That testing, and further data provided by BMW, see the X2 inherit the full five-star rating from the X1.

Active Guard, BMW’s automatic emergency braking system that prevents or mitigates collisions, is also fitted as standard across the range, while a more advanced system with an early warning can be equipped as part of the optional Driver Pack. This also adds automatic high beam, lane departure warning, speed limit information, front and rear parking sensors and a self-parking system.

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By Phil Huff
Jun 25, 2020