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Upper-level version of BMW’s new Polestar 2 rival comes with a high price, but is short on the dynamism, practicality or range to back it up.

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The next-generation BMW Neue Klasse models that will start to arrive next year will use a bespoke electric platform.

Until then, the firm is pushing on with its multi-powertrain strategy, hence the arrival of the BMW iX2 – a car that is technically an all-new nameplate yet feels quite familiar, in part because it shares much with the existing iX1.

It also, as the name suggests, is the first electric version of the new second-generation BMW X2, which is the more dashing coupe-SUV sibling of the BMW X1 and electric BMW iX1

The exterior styling elements that mark out the electric version from the ‘regular’ X2 SUV-coupé are minimal, although the car's certainly not short on sporty visual touches; although we do marginally prefer its slightly more relaxed look to the appearance of the M235i we've also sampled.

BMW is offering the car in single-motor, front-wheel drive eDrive20- and twin-motor, four-wheel drive xDrive30 forms, the latter packing a little over 300 horsepower. For now, we've only tested the xDrive30, on both European and UK roads.

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DESIGN & STYLING

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BMW iX2 side

Compact BMWs have often evidenced a bit of an inferiority complex in their dynamic personae over the years. The high-set, transverse-mounted engines that the likes of the BMW 1-Series, 2-Series Gran Coupe and X1 typically use mean they don’t have the perfect weight distribution and native rear-drive that the firm is so renowned for, which has lead the sporty ones especially to sometimes over-compensate with overly-firm M Sport suspension, reactive ride and steering; just a slightly try-hard vibe.

Electrification would, you might imagine, be an opportunity to start from a clean slate; but BMW is, for now at least, adapting existing combustion-engined platforms for most of its EVs - and that means this iX2 uses a modified version of the same ‘UKL’ platform that the regular ICE X2 uses. Its main drive motor goes in the front, and its entry-level eDrive20 version is exclusively front-driven - even if this xDrive30 version gets another motor at the rear, and four-wheel drive,

This is the car that BMW is offering up against the Polestar 2, Audi Q4 E-tron and Tesla Model Y, then. Munich is clearly hoping that characteristically sporty styling will sell it, which explains the distinctly over-egged bi-plane rear wing of our test car. And yet the appeal of the car’s fundamental profile and stance just isn’t a patch on the best-looking electric ‘crossover coupes’ in this class.

At 4554mm, the iX2 is 194mm longer than the (non-electric) previous generation X2, and 54mm longer than the current iX1. It offers a wheelbase of 2692mm, with the wheels pushed towards each corner in order to maximise interior space. The boot is a respectable 525 litres big, although that is smaller than the petrol X2 due to the batteries.

In the iX2, the UKL platform features a battery pack runs beneath the floor, and there's the option of an electric motor on each axle. The entry-level eDrive20 M Sport, set to arrive in March, will feature a single motor mounted on the front axle to drive the forward wheels. That will offer 201bhp and 184lb ft of torque.

The top-spec xDrive30 M Sport3 adds a second hybrid synchronous 'e-motor' on the rear axle, for a combined 308bhp and 364lb ft of torque. That makes it plenty fast enough, and suits the sportier ambitions of this car more than its boxier iX1 sibling.

Whichever powertrain you plump for, the iX2 uses a 66.5kWh (64.7kWh usable) battery, which gives the twin motor model an official range of up to 266 miles, rising to 297 miles for the eDrive20. Thanks to the iX2’s sleeker body, that’s six whole miles more than the twin-motor iX1.

The iX2’s 130kW peak charging speed (identical to the iX1’s) is a match for the Audi Q4 E-tron but still off the pace set by rivals such as the Genesis GV60 (260kW).

INTERIOR

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BMW iX2 interior cabin

While it is distinct from the iX1 on the outside, the iX2's interior will be familiar to anyone who has spent time in that model. In some ways, that’s not a bad thing: this looks and (mostly) feels like a quality cabin, with well-positioned controls and comfortable seats. Certain trim levels perhaps try a little bit too hard to carry a sense of youthful, sporty cool - but BMW's technical, premium sheen is apparent. The car is offered with a decent high level of kit, so all models come with comfortable sport seats.

The car isn't as spacious as key rivals (Polestar 2, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Audi Q4 eTron), however. Headroom is disappointingly tight for fully grown adults, and legroom only average. The iX2’s extra length means it actually has a slightly bigger boot than the iX1, though; there's 525 litres of space, though it's delivered in a longer, flatter shape than the iX1's, which may cause problems when seeking to carry bulky loads.

The iX2 has the same infotainment system as its sibling. In the UK BMW's Live Cockpit Plus system is standard, featuring a 10.25in digital instrument panel and a 10.7in infotainment display that's gently curved towards the driver.

It looks neat, and the latest version of BMW's infotainment system is generally intuitive to use when the car is stationary - although the removal of BMW's typical iDrive controller, which could otherwise be used as a cursor controller when glancing up and down from the road, does affect usability adversely.

You can use voice control; and many of the key functions you need are only a few presses away. But it still feels like a retrograde step. It would appear that BMW do understand the value of tactile instruments: there's actually the option to plug in physical controllers to play games on the infotainment system. 

Still, you will find plenty of USB ports both in the front and the back, along with a wireless controller and a host of driver assistance systems.

ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

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BMW iX2 nose angled

With 308bhp split between its axles, the iX2 xDrive30 has plentiful power despite its reasonable size and heft. It deploys it well, too, with all that instant electric torque giving rapid acceleration and plenty of zip. 

There are three different drive modes, although they bundle up the power delivery, steering feel and suspension settings, which can be frustrating if you like to customise your options. The iX2 can achieve 0-62mph in 5.6secs, and has a limited top speed of 112mph. 

The twin-motor system offers three levels of regenerative braking, up to a one-pedal mode, although the system is all automatic with no ability to manually adjust regen. That means it's not quite as versatile as some electric powertrains, although the system does work reasonably effectively. There's also an adaptive mode which reads the road ahead and adjusts the regen to suit.

Evidence of BMW’s sporting pretence for the iX2 can be found behind the steering wheel with the addition of a ‘boost’ paddle that gives you a whack of extra power for 10 seconds or so. It is a bit stupid but quite fun, although it's the sort of gimmick you're unlikely to use often - especially if you're more concerned by range than performance.

On that note, the 269-mile official range of the iX2 is somewhat disappointing compared to rivals. Even if you drive as efficiently as possible you're looking at around 215 miles on a full charge, which drops rapidly if you stretch the car's legs a bit.

RIDE & HANDLING

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BMW iX2 front 2

As with the petrol X2, the iX2 has adaptive dampers as standard - but the settings for the suspension are twinned with the drive modes that also alter the likes of the steering weight, stability control and - wait for it - the ambient mood lighting, etc.

On our UK test drive, however, you might have assumed that adaptive suspension wasn't fitted. Because, on the road, the iX2 has that familiar sense of naggy, overly-firm body control, a slightly noisy ride, and reactive, tramlining steering which so typically marks out a compact BMW that's trying a little too hard to earn its BMW roundel.

The twin-motor model also lacks the apparent chassis balance of cars like the Polestar 2 and Kia EV6, cornering with much more onus and weight on the front axle. Use too much power mid-corner, as the motors make it easy to do, and it's the front wheels you'll feel scrabbling and running wide.

The car's steering is slightly numb-feeling at times; but, in tandem with BMW's optional 20in wheels at least, also given to tramlining over bumpier roads, making it hard to carve a precise line with the car.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

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BMW iX2 front lead

The twin motor xDrive30 has an official range of up to 269 miles, depending on specifications. That's a claimed efficiency of 3.5 to 2.8mpkWh.

We couldn't match that during test driving, however. On warmer European roads, we saw 215 miles promised from a full battery - but on chillier UK ones, only around 200-. Rivals are both more efficient and feature bigger batteries and, as a result, offer substantially bigger range than the iX2.

We've yet to drive the single motor eDrive20, but BMW does claim marginally better efficiency and range for it than the twin-motor car.

VERDICT

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BMW iX2 front static

Between one thing and another, BMW probably owes its customers better than this iX2. The single-motor model, with its slightly better range and cheaper price, might be marginally better - but it’d be a very long odds bet to trouble the class’s best.

On a smooth surface, this is a largely pleasant car to drive; and it has enough BMW premium sheen that will make it an appealing option for those seeking a style-led, sporty-looking electric family crossover with reasonable space for four, and useful boot.

For all the iX2’s sporty styling, however, it is not a particularly enjoyable car to drive. Several key rivals offer better-balanced handling, better body control and better driver engagement.

Unless you’re really taken by that rakish roofline, we question if this car merits a premium of £7000 or so compared to an equivalent iX1; but the bigger question seems to us to be why you'd pay more than so many EV rivals here for a car with poorer range and space, which doesn't have as much outright design appeal, and doesn't have BMW's typical dynamic selling point either? Suffice it to say, we wouldn't. 

James Attwood

James Attwood, digital editor
Title: Acting magazine editor

James is Autocar's acting magazine editor. Having served in that role since June 2023, he is in charge of the day-to-day running of the world's oldest car magazine, and regularly interviews some of the biggest names in the industry to secure news and features, such as his world exclusive look into production of Volkswagen currywurst. Really.

Before first joining Autocar in 2017, James spent more than a decade in motorsport journalist, working on Autosport, autosport.com, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, covering everything from club rallying to top-level international events. He also spent 18 months running Move Electric, Haymarket's e-mobility title, where he developed knowledge of the e-bike and e-scooter markets. 

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.