In their ongoing pursuit to fill each and every automotive niche in the luxury car market, BMW has recently released their first ever X2. Based on the BMW X1’s platform, the X2 is to X1 what the X4 is to the X3 and what the X6 is to the X5. A sportier, more dynamic, (slightly less practical) variation of the stablemates they are based upon.
BMW is making a huge deal about how “bold” and “daring” the X2 is, and have given it a very youthful, energetic and almost rebellious persona in the process.
So is the actual car really able to capture this exuberant attitude required for their intended YOLO generation audience? Fortunately for us, we were granted access to the sDrive20i variant for a couple of days to find out. Unfortunately for BMW, we’re on the bad part of our 30s.
Stylistically, unlike its bigger segment-bending siblings, the BMW X2 eschews their tapered rear rooflines for a more traditional hatchback rear end and with its thick C-pillars, kind of has a hint of a VW Scirocco when gazing from the rear three quarters. Albeit a rather jacked up and raised Scirocco. Not really a bad thing since the Scirocco is quite a good looking automobile. For an SUV (or SAV in BMW-speak) the BMW X2 sits rather low and wide.
With its angry upturned kidney grilles and headlights through to its numerous creases and forward-angled lines, the bold sporty intent in its heavily raked exterior design is obvious. The X2 wants to be noticed. It wants to be seen. It wants you to look at it. Put it side by side with an X1 and if one didn’t know any better, wouldn’t have guessed they shared the same underpinnings.
If the exterior design itself wasn’t enough, BMW is hammering their “bold” design language home with an additional pair of roundels on the C-pillars. For a car that’s not physically very large, it really does like to shout. Especially with our test car’s equally flashy Galvanic gold paint!
This BMW is a car where your choice of colours and trim will either make or break the overall aesthetic. Pick a shade and not only do you have to live with it, but the interior stitching will also match whatever exterior hue you’ve chosen. So choose wisely.
In terms of trim levels, local buyers will be getting the M Sport X trim package. This gives buyers more aggressively styled front and rear bumpers, a trick M Sport spoiler (missing on our test car), and also a number of contrasting frozen grey exterior panels unique to the M Sport X.
Personally, I’d opt for an Alpine white car with the M Sport (sans X) trim since I find the colour matched cladding a tad more coherent with the overall design, perhaps a little less busy and a little less shouty. Although to be fair, I’m sure younger folk wouldn’t mind a little bit more flair in the overall aesthetic.
While the X2’s exterior is quite different from its X1 sibling, on the inside, things are much more familiar. But unlike the X1, you sit quite low in the X2, and the final driving position is very car-like. An intentional decision by BMW i’m sure and while all the controls and switchgear are lovingly tactile, for a car launched in 2018, it is starting to look a little bit dated when up against cars in the same price segment, especially with its rather diminutive 6.5″ iDrive display. At least it’s a touchscreen.
I’m also not too sure of the materials chosen for our test car, “micro hexagon” fabric and Alcantara lining the seats, colour-coded stitching, colour-coded floor mats and “hexagon” aluminium trim. I know the X2 wants to stand out from the crowd, but with so much going on inside, it feels like it’s trying a little too hard. Wouldn’t hurt to tone it down just a tad.
While the (really huggy) Alcantara wrapped sport seats are probably great in places where climates are far milder, here in sunny Singapore, the thought of letting it soak up all our perspiration after a warm day out in the sun isn’t all that pleasing. Thankfully, Dakota leather is available as an option, so do give that a thought.
Not all is doom and gloom in the cabin, of course, there are some really nice touches inside that do elevate the overall experience. The M steering wheel feels really good and is fantastic to hold. And the interior contour lighting setup along the door trims to give the interior a more upmarket feel.
For those looking at load-lugging ability, the X2 actually has a pretty decent boot given its shorter rear overhangs. At 470 litres, it is only 35 litres less than the X1. There is also a rather deep storage space underneath the boot floor should you choose to stow anything away from prying eyes. The loading area might be a little cumbersome though with a rather high rear loading lip making it not as easy to get cargo in. All in the pursuit of a tauter rear end visual.
The X2 might have been built on the X1’s chassis but BMW is very keen to point out that they’ve made significant changes to the setup. Further refining the suspension to deliver better agility and overall performance. Enhancing the driving experience, even more, is the M Sport suspension fitted as standard on all local cars. Tightening up the handling and dropping the X2’s overall height by 10mm.
On paper, the sDrive20i is rated at 192hp with 280Nm of torques with an acceleration figure of 7.7 seconds to get to the 100 mark. But paper figures can only tell half the story, so now it’s time to thumb the starter button and get going.
It’s hard not to keep thinking back to memories of the X1 as we first start to move off and while the X1 wasn’t a slouch, it is not what we’d call an inspiring drive. This though, this felt totally different. It was immediately apparent the moment we first turned a corner that oh, this is something entirely different altogether.
There is an immediacy to the controls and the X2 reacts with a lot more vigour to inputs when compared with the X1. Even the engine, it feels so eager to go and the whole car just wants you to really drive it, to really engage with it.
There is still some torque steer on heavy throttle applications and the steering still feels slightly number along the center, but turn the wheel and the X2 is able to handle corners and curves well enough that you can really get a good rhythm going. This is how the X1 should have driven. Coupled with a dual-clutch DCT gearbox providing extremely rapid and near seamless shifts, the drive is so good that at times, you can almost forget the car was being pulled by the front wheels.
Of course, there is a slight trade-off when equipping a set of uprated suspension components, and that is the ride. It isn’t what we’d call cushy. The ride is not intolerable but you will be able to feel a lot of the road. But, this is a BMW, this is a machine that’s built to be driven and considering its younger target audience, the ride balance tipped in favour of a more engaging drive was probably the right decision.
So to answer our earlier question, does the X2 have what it takes to back up its rebellious attitude? I guess it does. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but, I think that was what BMW intended. Who Dares, Wins.