The X2 shares its UKL2 platform with the BMW Group’s bigger Mini models and the brand-new, predominantly front-driven, third-generation 1 Series hatchback. It’s built in the same factory as the 1 Series, in Regensburg, Germany. And if you’ve been following BMW’s strategy with its latest small cars, you’ll know that means our test car uses a transverse-mounted engine and that many derivatives also have driven front wheels.
The X2 M35i isn’t one of those derivatives, though – not least because it packs a serious-sounding 302bhp from BMW’s first M Performance-branded four-cylinder engine. A version of the B48 2.0-litre turbo four-pot used in cars as different as the Mini Cooper S and BMW 530e, the new overhauled performance engine gets a new crankshaft with larger main bearings, new pistons and a new intake system and runs a lower compression ratio than other B48 motors as well as a bigger turbocharger.
The 302bhp it makes comes shortly after 332lb ft of torque, which is on tap from as little as 1750rpm. If that sounds like plenty of torque for a car of this size, you can believe that BMW’s M division engineers thought so, too – which is why the X2 M35i gets a clutch-based four-wheel drive system, a specially adapted rear axle compared with other all-paw X2s and a limited-slip differential in the front axle to help it put its power down.