What is it?
A hatchback? An SUV? Depending on the angle you look at the new BMW X2 from, there are easily identifiable signs of both very much present in its design. Whatever your thoughts on its appearance are, though, you have to acknowledge that BMW has a bit of an uncanny knack when it comes to sniffing out space for an entirely new model niche within its ever-expanding line-up.
This isn’t the first time we’ve had a go in the X2 here on UK roads. Earlier this year, we tried one out in four-wheel-drive, diesel-powered xDrive20d guise and were impressed with its poise, pace and handling dynamism. Now, we’re getting behind the wheel of the sDrive20i model, which loses a driven axle and ditches its oil-burning engine in favour of a (marginally) more powerful four-cylinder petrol.
That powerplant displaces 1998cc, and develops 189bhp from 5000rpm, while its 207lb ft is available from as low down the rev band as 1350rpm. This is all sent exclusively to the front wheels (optional 20in alloys wrapped in 225/40 Pirelli P Zero rubber on our M Sport test car) via a seven-speed twin-clutch auto ’box. Stiffened and lowered M Sport suspension is also thrown in the mix for good measure.
What's it like?
Actually really rather enjoyable. The X2 may not quite display hot-hatch levels of agility or body control but, given its shape and size, the level of dynamism on offer here is to be commended.
I don’t think you’ll really feel as though you’re missing out on anything for being a driven axle down compared with the diesel X2, as there are still impressive levels of grip to be found here. You can can certainly lean on the BMW’s front end much more than you can in other crossover-type vehicles, and you’ll have to be travelling at a noticeably quicker pace before the tyres give up the ghost and wash into understeer. Even when this point arrives, the manner in which traction is broken is gentle and easily manageable; a lift of the throttle will not only drag the X2’s rather pointy-looking nose back in towards the apex, but you can feel the rear of the car gently rotate in a corrective fashion too.
It then adds into this mix steering that’s best described as athletically weighted and, at 2.6 turns lock-to-lock, reasonably quick; impressively controlled lateral roll; and a transmission that responds reasonably keenly to your inputs when controlled via the paddles. It’s a tidy little package, this.
The four-cylinder petrol motor suits the X2 well too. It might not be hugely characterful, but it pulls strongly from just below 2000rpm with acceleration being delivered in a tidy, linear fashion. Select Sport mode and drive hard enough and you’ll also notice a fruity - though reasonably faint - parping noise from the exhaust on upshifts. Out on the motorway, it’s largely unintrusive, and there’s enough torque on offer for in-gear overtakes to not be too much of a lengthy, drawn out affair. So what are the caveats? Well, the stiffened suspension and larger alloy wheels with their reasonably low-profile tyres don’t make for a secondary ride that’s easy to get particularly excited about. While the X2’s primary ride characteristics are certainly tidy - compressions are ironed out in a firm but not unforgiving fashion - ruts and bumps are a touch too sharp for the BMW to be considered remarkably comfortable. The front axle seems to have a tougher time of dealing with these intrusions than the rear, which to its credit manages to feel reasonably settled most of the time. Road roar is a bit of an issue at speed, too, and the 27mpg economy figure we recorded during our time with it isn’t outstanding.