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How well does petrol power and front-wheel drive suit the new BMW X2? We try it out on UK roads to find out
Simon Davis
7 November 2018

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.

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As for the cabin, while it exudes the sort of upmarket material and visual you’d expect from what is a £35,040 mini-SUV, its smaller footprint and lower roofline does make for a second row that can at times feel a touch on the tight side. Head room isn’t particularly generous, and neither is leg room - at least for an adult.

Should I buy one?

To its credit, the BMW X2 takes a good shot as dispelling the idea that crossovers have to be inherently worse than the hatchbacks on which they’re usually based. Not only does the X2 look rather sharp, it drives well and has comparable levels of practicality to, say, a 1 Series (its boot has 470 litres of space versus 360 litres in the hatch).

The more sceptical among us might view BMW’s ability to seemingly pull new vehicle niches out of thin air in a negative light. At least - in the case of the X2, anyway - when it does, BMW does a pretty good job of it.

BMW X2 sDrive20i M Sport

Price £35,040 On sale Now Engine 4 cyls in line, 1998cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 189bhp at 5000rpm Torque 207lb ft at 1350rpm Gearbox 7-spd automatic Kerb weight 1535kg 0-62mph 7.7sec Top speed 141mph Economy 47.1mpg (NEDC combined) CO2, tax band 136g/km, 28% Rivals Jaguar E-Pace, Audi Q3

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Comments
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Bimfan 4 February 2020

The X2 SDrive 2.0i is a versatile car with driver appeal

After 18 months of owning one I can say it is nicer to drive than my previous Jaguar cars and far better built. 12000 miles so far wth no faults and no rattles. Like Jaguars though it is reassuringly expensive.

The 2 litre petrol engine with the 7 speed DCT is an excellent responsive drivetrain and converse to some uninformed persons comments, far better than a Jaguar Ingenium petrol and technically superior too. It is easy to average 40mpg on a long run and 35 on urban trips and when you want to let the performance and handling show, it can easily match warm hatchbacks.

Yes, it has faults. The rides a bit firm and the runflat tyres are a bit noisy. The boot is not that big unless you put the seats down and the roofline restricts access for bigger items, but the E-Pace is worse. Rear seats are just OK for two adults but not great. Visibility out front and sides is really good but not that good at the rear, making it easy to place on the road but you need the camera option for parking. The standard sound system is good and while the main screen is probably a bit odd to use at first, it all works unlike most Jaguars, and can be used without the touchscreen on the move with the idrive controller.  

Peter Cavellini 17 May 2020

At last!

Bimfan wrote:

After 18 months of owning one I can say it is nicer to drive than my previous Jaguar cars and far better built. 12000 miles so far wth no faults and no rattles. Like Jaguars though it is reassuringly expensive.

The 2 litre petrol engine with the 7 speed DCT is an excellent responsive drivetrain and converse to some uninformed persons comments, far better than a Jaguar Ingenium petrol and technically superior too. It is easy to average 40mpg on a long run and 35 on urban trips and when you want to let the performance and handling show, it can easily match warm hatchbacks.

Yes, it has faults. The rides a bit firm and the runflat tyres are a bit noisy. The boot is not that big unless you put the seats down and the roofline restricts access for bigger items, but the E-Pace is worse. Rear seats are just OK for two adults but not great. Visibility out front and sides is really good but not that good at the rear, making it easy to place on the road but you need the camera option for parking. The standard sound system is good and while the main screen is probably a bit odd to use at first, it all works unlike most Jaguars, and can be used without the touchscreen on the move with the idrive controller.  

. At last, an independent unbiased opinion on the two litre petrol, ours was due this month, but I guess it could be another two before we see it, your piece told me everything I needed to know, thanks.

Peter Cavellini 28 September 2019

Lots to see!!!

 Was sitting in A Public Library the other day looking out big plate Glass Windows which looked down onto a roundabout, to pass the time I counted cars, all the usual suspects went round, to many to write here, but the most common brand that went round were.....BMW's, mostly three series and Diesel powered, how come?, well,I think not many actually buy there cars, it's so easy to just lay it up, and when it comes time to change you just swap cars and carry on....

michaeltorresoriko 13 February 2019

New car

Interesting article! I work as a executive resume writer my job is a few kilometers away from me. And I want to buy a new car. BMW pretty good car for food in the city.

michaeltorresoriko 13 February 2019

ps: BMW pretty good car for

ps: BMW pretty good car for city driving!