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The X2 visits BMW M to receive a hot-hatch drivetrain in its crossover-coupé body, with mixed results

Our Verdict

BMW X2 M35i 2019 road test review - hero front

BMW’s first four-cylinder M Performance model takes the fight to the Audi SQ2 over class honours in the premium compact crossover market.

  • First Drive

    BMW X2 M35i 2019 UK review

    The X2 visits BMW M to receive a hot-hatch drivetrain in its crossover-coupé body, with mixed results
  • First Drive

    BMW X2 M35i 2019 review

    Most potent X2 yet gets BMW M division's first four-pot in 33 years to challenge the likes of Audi's SQ2
Mark Tisshaw
16 September 2019
BMW X2 M35i 2019 UK

What is it?

Cars that try to be all things to all people usually end up feeling as compromised as the brief suggests. That’s what BMW set out to avoid with this latest version of the X2, which not only wants to mix a small SUV with a coupé but also morph into a hot hatch.

You see, the X2 has paid a visit to BMW M to be fitted with a 302bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. This drives all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox – a spec that’s well into Volkswagen Golf R territory.

M also fits its own tune of suspension, which is firmer and lower than that of the standard X2 on which the M35i is based. If you want the adaptive dampers that come with the M Sport package, you’ll have to sacrifice the 20in alloy wheels of our test car for a 19in set, because the larger wheels aren’t compatible. Even without that package, this is a £42,000 car. Crikey.

What's it like?

This is a car that hits the heights in some areas and misses the mark in others, thus feeling as compromised as the brief suggests. Who’d have thought?

First, the good. The engine is a very strong performer. It’s as quick off the line as the 5.0ec 0-62mph time suggests it is, and it has the reserves of torque to provide lots of thrust through the mid-range that’s so useful in the kind of everyday driving situations where you need to go to the well quickly. There’s also real depth to the exhaust note, with a bassy tone that you can feel as well as hear under hard acceleration. 

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The gearbox is a good match for the engine, too, providing crisp shifts that immerse you in the drive.

The bad? The ride. Oh, the ride. This is a very firm car indeed at low speeds in particular – in truth, too firm to be comfortable every day. And the reason you buy an SUV, whether it makes more than 300bhp or not, is generally that you want to be comfortable and enjoy the performance of a potent hot hatch, not the ride quality of a stripped-out special.

The handling is better than the ride, at least, with nicely weighted steering and a keen front end that allows the car to really be turned into a corner. It’s more competent and composed rather than fun or involving, though. It’s at its best dynamically when a good hot hatch would also be, mind: on a brisk, cross-country drive. 

The X2's interior feels a bit cramped, caused by the sharply raked windscreen, a slim glasshouse and such a large amount of dark materials and fabrics to try to give the car a sporty feel. It’s comfortable and easy to use, and in reality not as cramped as the perception the material use and glass size would have you think. 

Should I buy one?

Perhaps the more pertinent question is just who would buy an X2 M35i? It isn't a bad car - quite the opposite, in fact. Yet when it gives with one hand (powertrain, handling) and takes with the other (ride, interior), the result is a car that will put off more buyers than it will attract. It just lacks the kind of polish and sophistication you’d expect. 

BMW X2 M35i specification

Where Surrey, UK Price £42,000 On sale Now Engine 4 cyls, 1998cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 302bhp at 5000rpm Torque 332lb ft at 1750-4500rpm Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight 1610kg Top speed 155mph 0-62mph 5.0sec Fuel economy tbc CO2 tbc Rivals Audi SQ2, Volkswagen Golf R Estate 

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Comments
10

16 September 2019

 There’s little trade off to make me think about it, and, the price isn’t that silly....

16 September 2019
Peter Cavellini wrote:

 There’s little trade off to make me think about it, and, the price isn’t that silly....

 

Blimey.. Even the spammers manage to post more interesting comments than you.

16 September 2019

Coupé as used by the major car manufacturers has become as meaningless as an electric Porsche dubbed Turbo(s).

16 September 2019

The X2 looks awful and the FWD BMW interiors leave me cold. I'm thinking that the TRoc R is going to be the better bet. Certainly looks a lot better.

16 September 2019
SamVimes1972 wrote:

The X2 looks awful and the FWD BMW interiors leave me cold. I'm thinking that the TRoc R is going to be the better bet. Certainly looks a lot better.

 

Or you could just buy a hot hatch instead, save money and get a better car?

Or buy a cheaper version, and save money?

These so called sports SUVs are totally rubbish.

16 September 2019

I seem to think all these daft inserted pseudo-ads started being posted in to these forums about six months ago. They compete with Peter Cavellini for their frequency and really are getting in the way of people moaning and commenting, well moaning then.

A plea to Autocar - this pandemic of omnipresent nonsense (I don't mean Peter I hasten to add) is beginning to dilute the value of the comments. Is there some sort of software that can filter these out - as a start any post in bold - which the majority of us don't use would stymie them.

17 September 2019
All these spam messages have a link. Can't Autocar simply disable all posts with inserted links?

17 September 2019
abkq wrote:

All these spam messages have a link. Can't Autocar simply disable all posts with inserted links?

That has to be a first step. 99% of users don't insert links so that half of the nonesense killed off @abkq. Then kill off those in bold and we have just a few left.

17 September 2019
The X2 needs a visit to a new stylist before a visit to the M division.

17 September 2019

...is that no matter how illustrious your reputation for ride/handling balance might be you can't alter the laws of physics, either you want a truck or a car when it comes to dynamics.

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