With the original X5, BMW showed the world that an SUV could be made to handle properly, but this new clique of performance crossovers is arguably a harder nut to crack. Powerful but efficient small-capacity engines and an architecture akin to that of a traditional hot hatch make them relatively unfamiliar territory for the company and it joins the race not because it wants to, but because it feels it has to from a commercial standpoint.
On the one hand, the X2 M35i wants nothing for performance and its new four-cylinder powertrain is a highlight of the package, operating with muscular refinement and no small amount of character. On the other, its low-speed ride quality is simply not good enough to support the case for everyday use. In the middle are dynamics that fail to thrill but form the foundation of a supremely quick and sure-footed all-weather family car that can entertain, albeit lightly, when the moment arises.
It’s enough to make the X2 M35i the most rousing driver’s car of its kind, but not the most rounded, and at this elevated price, you expect a broader spread of talent.