8
Doesn’t deliver many typical crossover selling points but looks perky, handles keenly and is well capable of winning over your latent cynic

Our Verdict

BMW X2 2018 road test review hero front

BMW's sporty SUV is designed to battle for honours in the premium compact crossover market. But can it match the Audi Q3, Jaguar E-Pace and Mercedes-Benz GLA?

  • First Drive

    BMW X2 sDrive20i 2018 review

    How well does petrol power and front-wheel drive suit the new BMW X2? We try it out on UK roads to find out
  • First Drive

    BMW X2 xDrive20d M Sport 2018 UK review

    Doesn’t deliver many typical crossover selling points but looks perky, handles keenly and is well capable of winning over your latent cynic

What is it?

The BMW X2 is the new, extra-sporty, added-desirability, ever-so-trendy sibling to the X1 ‘sports activity vehicle’ – and it has just arrived on UK roads in right-hand drive form.

You’ll likely notice the X2 the first time you see one because while it’s slightly more compact than the X1, whose wheelbase it shares, it also has the styling to create a bit of visual impact. Most versions of the car, unlike the M Sport-trim example we tested, have two-tone paintjobs, and there are optional alloy wheel sizes ranging all the way up to 20in.

All X2s get an extra BMW roundel on the C-pillar, too. BMW certainly wants to get your attention with this car and is pitching it as a “bold, rebellious, alternative choice”. The irony of such a positioning for yet another premium crossover SUV in these past twelve months is, of course, about as plain as that extra blue-and-white propeller on the car’s rump.

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The X2’s engine range is a slightly truncated one at launch, with only 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol and diesel motors available for the time being, with power outputs ranging from 148 to 189bhp. 

Your options on driven wheels are defined by your preference on engine, as are those on transmissions. All 20i petrols are front-wheel-drive and come with a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox; all 20d diesels have four-wheel drive and eight-speed autos; and there’s an 18d model coming in manual or auto form as a front-driver or in manual-only form as an xDrive.

The X2 has a lower roofline than the X1 and runs with firmer suspension settings in order to make for its handling more agile than that of the X1 – a car which, by crossover standards, is already pretty agile. The M Sport trim of the X2 test car for our first UK drive, meanwhile, made the suspension shorter and firmer still.

Variable Damper Control (VDC) adaptive dampers are an option, while run-flat tyres come as standard on M Sport and M Sport X derivatives but can be avoided if you stick to SE or Sport.

What's it like?

Even allowing for what some will say are pretty superficial styling tweaks, the X2 does look a lot like another BMW hatchback in a showroom range that already has plenty of ‘em. Not really like an SUV, a coupé or, honestly, a particularly daring five-door – to this reviewer, at any rate.

That's not to say the X2 isn’t handsome. It's likeable enough, and it even draws the eye. Perhaps it was the particular specification of our test car, robbing it of the two-tone body treatment, that made the difference. Whatever the reason, if I’d gone out to find something genuinely ‘alternative’ and ‘rebellious’, I’m not sure this would cut it.

The biggest problem is that there’s the X1, which doesn’t look an awful lot different to this, and likewise the 2 Series Active Tourer and Gran Tourer, neither of which are a million miles away. A new 1 Series will arrive next year, too; wanna bet it’ll be more much for the general hatchback muchness? We’ll see. But didn’t BMW used to make saloons? Really good ones, if memory serves. The odd nice coupé, too. There can be no doubt that the size and shape of Munich’s average showroom model is changing rapidly, and clearly, we’ve all got to make the effort to keep up.

If the sight of the X2 makes you wonder exactly how different this car is in terms of dimensions from the X1, we’ll summarise: the X2 is 20mm shorter and 69mm lower to the ground (this rising to as much as 79mm with the M Sport or VDC suspension).

You could call it a crossover that’s been lowered back down to normal cruising altitude, as long as that idea doesn’t make you weep for simpler times, like it does me. Or you could just think of this as a big five-door hatchback with an extra dose of chunky SUV-esque visual presence; the yin to the yang of an absolutely conventional car like the Nissan Pulsar (for the record, the X2 is within an inch of the Pulsar on overall length and is less than half an inch taller at the kerb). Anyhow, does the classification process actually matter if you just happen to fancy one?

The X2’s driving position is pretty common-or-garden standard hatchback; it's a little bit higher than some but typically adjustable. It locates you in front of well-laid-out and adjustable controls, in a cabin that looks and feels a grade more upmarket than the crossover hatchback norm. It’s not quite in the league of one or two of the compact premium SUVs that are available for similar cash in terms of comfort or material richness, but, with contrast stitching on the dashboard and high-gloss trim aplenty on the centre console, it’s very pleasant.

Your view out is good, but it’s hardly a selling point, since you find yourself at a very similar height above the road as a lot of ordinary hatchbacks, looking through a glasshouse that isn’t particularly deep.

In the back, there’s respectable space for the heads, knees, elbow and feet of adult passengers, but no more than in the Pulsar or Vauxhall Astra. At least the X2's boot offers a useful improvement on that of a run-of-the-mill hatchback, at 470 litres.

There’s evidently a lot resting, then, on the dynamism of the X2’s driving experience. It's a good job that it’s present and correct, in that case. There are significantly more powerful engines to come as the model range is fleshed out, but even in middle-sitting-diesel 187bhp 20d form, the X2 is nicely pacey and responsive.

BMW’s 2.0-litre diesel revs with relative freedom over the last 1500rpm of its tacho travel, as BMW diesels tend to do, and the eight-speed automatic gearbox downstream of it channels the torque smartly and with slick, judicious shift timing.

The X2 has Sport, Comfort and Eco Pro driving modes, which manage the calibration of the engine, gearbox, stability control, power steering and, if fitted, adaptive dampers. There’s no Custom or Individual mode, without the likes of which many modern cars often frustrate by never quite being set up just-so. Thankfully, BMW does allow you to adopt the Sport mode’s more aggressive settings for the engine and drivetrain without having those of the suspension and steering, and that means you can configure the X2 quite well for use on UK roads.

Whatever mode you’ve selected, the X2 has the body control, grip level and steering response to appeal to the keener driver. It handles with an immediacy that isn’t far off hot hatch level, and it has commendable cornering balance, too, occasionally feeling like it’s being pushed neutral by its rear axle as well as being pulled up front in tighter corners.

With Sport mode set in its widest-reaching state, the X2’s steering weight can be a bit overbearing and its ride a shade unyielding over bumps. But when you dial out the chassis settings of that mode, the car’s composure and easy manageability both improve. The suspension remains firm-feeling even when thus set, mind you, and won’t suit drivers moving into a crossover for a greater sense of isolation from the road surface.

Our test car also suffers from significant ride noise and abruptness over rougher roads; a trait of many of BMW’s smaller models when fitted with run-flat tyres, we’ve found, and a good reason to think long and hard about saving a few quid by sticking with a lower trim level.

Should I buy one?

Whether or not you should buy an X2 depends on how much of a rational purchase you’re out to make and how deep your pockets are.

Anyone who needs the practicality, capability, comfort or convenience supplied by BMW’s other X-branded cars, or indeed of many of the other crossovers and compact SUVs available for less than the X2’s price, isn’t likely to convince himself that he’s found what he’s looking for here.

At the end of the reckoning process, the hard-headed among us would have to concede that this car is exactly what it looks like: just a hatchback. The emperor’s new sports activity coupé, you might say.

But can BMW really be blamed for giving us a hatchback that we’re likely to want? Whether that’s because it’s got an X on the bootlid, or four-wheel drive, or a curvy roofline, or an upmarket interior, or a strong diesel engine, or handling you can enjoy from time to time – or for every one of those reasons? Perhaps not.

Even if it’s simply because you like the BMW badges on the pillars, if you like the X2, you’re just gonna like it. And guess what? We like it too.

BMW X2 xDrive20d M Sport

On sale Now Engine 4cyls in line, 1995cc, turbodiesel Power 187bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1675kg; 0-62mph 7.7sec; Top speed 137mph; Economy 58.9mpg (NEDC combined); CO2/tax band 126g/km; Rivals Jaguar E-Pace 2.0 D180 R-Dynamic AWD Auto, Audi Q3 2.0 TDI 184 Quattro Black Edition

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Comments
16

20 March 2018

...Deeply average review, bog standard hatch,  emperors new clothes, no more than a Nissan Pulsar...conclusion, 4 stars, we like it!

20 March 2018

Sorry, not 'rebellious' enough for me, a badge on a C pillar just ain't out there .....

Steam cars are due a revival.

20 March 2018

FWD, TallHatchBack. This cars only saving grace is it's pace, which is the one thing I wouldn't be too bothered about for this type of car.  I hate to think how much it'll cost but there's cars out there that are equal for alot less money!

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

20 March 2018

There are only so many niches you can fill. This sounds like a perfectly good premium hatchback so I'm baffled over what the new 1 series will be. And does it really weigh 1675kg?

20 March 2018

The 8 speed ZF auto has been a staple of BMWs for the last few years and is widely recognised as one of the best autos on the market. For me it's a major selling point. So why on earth are they ditching it in favour of a dual clutch transmission on most auto models?

20 March 2018
Will86 wrote:

The 8 speed ZF auto has been a staple of BMWs for the last few years and is widely recognised as one of the best autos on the market. For me it's a major selling point. So why on earth are they ditching it in favour of a dual clutch transmission on most auto models?

It's a FWD platform, that can be configured with 4WD, that's shared with the MINI Countryman which means the 8-Sp ZF is not compatible.


20 March 2018

I recall the days when BMWs were actually desirable, classy and warranted their premium status as well as justifying their price over the mainstream cars with their quality and thorough engineering. But that was well over 20 years ago. Nowadays BMWs are just a company trying to churn out as many cars as possible while the cars they do make are now far removed from being desirable, classy and justifying their high prices. Instead they're unreliable and either look cheap, brash and tacky like this X2, or terminally dull like their saloons, while they no longer look or feel premium and neither to they justify their premiun pricing. 

20 March 2018

I’m very happy that Autocar like this car. Someone has to, or maybe it’s just me who has no desire to attain this vehicle. I unfortunately suspect that thousands of the things will find new homes in suburbia, neatly positioned on the open plan driveway for all to see and admire. The envy of all. But not me. 

 

20 March 2018

I wonder why BMW didn't just do an Active/Rocks/Cross/Scout type job on the 1-Series, rather than spending time on money on this X2. They would have ended up with nearly the same thing.

20 March 2018

I’ve admired BMWs and owned BMWs. There was always a consistency of approach, a feeling that the company cared about its products and how they drove.

I don’t get that feeling anymore. I’m not sure I no any longer what a BMW is supposed to be. 

For me, the brand is devalued. 

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