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.
The electromechanical power steering system has also been in receipt of re-specifying and retuning attention, having been made more direct (to a ratio of 15.0:1, down from 15.9 in other X2s).
Lowered passive M Sport suspension, uprated brakes, and 20in rims with run-flat tyres are fitted as standard, although adaptive dampers are part of the M Sport Plus package. That said, choose this and you’ll also have to go for smaller, 19in alloys, as the adaptive set-up isn’t compatible with the larger wheels.
BMW is offering the car in six colours, the brightest of which are Misano Blue, Galvanic Gold and Sunset Orange – and not all of those are unique to the M35i. It’ll perhaps be easiest to spot from its peers by the Cerium Grey body trim that BMW has chosen to distinguish it – on the door mirror caps, the kidney grille surrounds and the exhaust tips. Even those testers who didn’t particularly like it agreed it was at least an interesting change from gloss black or chrome.