There is a reasonable chance that you won’t like the look of this week’s road test subject: the new top-of-the-range performance version of BMW’s X2 designer crossover hatchback. The Munich firm knows that. You might even say it was counting on it.
‘Polarising’ is how BMW chooses to describe the appearance and positioning of this £44,235, 300-horsepower, four-wheel-drive, high-rise family five-door, which is the new star attraction of a model range that we’ve yet to run the road test ruler over in any form.
The X2 is a car intended to be either loved or hated, then; to trade in the usual crossover design cues at bolder and more eye-catching visual volume than most cars of its type, even in entry-level form; and to make a statement about the individualism of its youthful, boundlessly freethinking owner (apparently). By the time that styling volume is turned up to M Performance decibels, it ought to be capable of producing a reaction from almost anyone.
Not that we’ll be dwelling over the next couple of thousand words on the way you might instinctively feel about this car, or what the new X2 M35i might say about the person driving it. Rather, we’ll be interrogating how it performs and handles, and what it might be like to drive and to live with on a daily basis on UK roads, as the Autocar road test always sets out to do.
We’ll also be assessing whether this is a car worthy of BMW’s still fairly new, lower-stratum M Performance billing – never mind a price every bit as likely to raise an eyebrow as any visually rowdy exterior styling makeover that BMW could come up with.
The performance crossover niche is growing, after all. Can this BMW rule its emergent roost – and, more important, is it one you should buy into?
The BMW X2 range at a glance
The 302bhp X2 M35i is something of an outlier in the X2 range and the only model to be tuned by M division, which is also responsible for supersaloons such as the M3. All X2s use a four-cylinder turbo engine, apart from the entry-level petrol three-pot model. Engines are mated to either a six-speed manual in lesser variants or, optionally, a seven-speed dualclutch automatic, which is available across the range. Only the M35i gets a ZF eight-speed torque-converter automatic, though.