In the driver’s seat of the X2, that overall “MINI” feel of agility carries over from the X1.
The BMW nameplate has a storied history and heritage amongst automotive and motorsports enthusiasts around the world. For a brand that touts itself as the “Ultimate Driving Machine”, BMW has navigated the evolution of the crossover remarkably well, if you look at it from a business perspective. From an enthusiast’s (more like purist’s) perspective, there may not be very much in their “X” lineup that appeals to you, but you can’t really fault BMW for trying to offer something for just about everybody. One thing that was definitely (said with slight sarcasm) missing from their “X” lineup was the X2. Unveiled at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, we picked up our 2018 BMW X2 xDrive28i (painted Galvanic Gold) to see how it fits in to the rest of the BMW family.
The BMW X1 is well-known for being the brand’s smallest crossover, with a more practical focus to its mission. The X2 follows a similar philosophy to that of the X4, which itself is a more style-focused (read: less practical) version of the X3. As a result, the BMW X2 shares a similar transverse-engine platform as the X1. What that means is that the X1 and X2 are both built on what is essentially the MINI Countryman platform. If you aren’t quite confused yet, cheers to you for being able to keep up.
Like the BMW X4, the X2 features, in BMW’s words, more “extroverted” styling. The roofline drops considerably compared to the boxier X1 (86mm between the X1 and X2), into a “coupe-style” silhouette that isn’t quite as drastic as seen on the larger X4 and X6. One of the most controversial styling decisions comes down to the placement of the BMW roundel on the C-pillar of the hatchback. It is quite large and is in stark contrast to the bright Galvanic Gold paint, but BMW says that its placement recreates a detail from classic BMW coupes (look up the BMW 3.0 CS). The extroverted look continues with “rounded square” wheel arches that aren’t exactly symmetrical, with available 20″ wheels as part of the “M Sport X” package. All the silver plastic cladding contributes to a busy design, with lots of contrast, which BMW hopes will appeal to a young and younger-at-heart audience.
Inside, the overall interior design isn’t quite as extroverted as what you see on the outside. You get a similar interior that of the X1, complete with the Mini-style gear selector, and the usual iDrive infotainment controller and centre stack. You get BMW’s latest instrument cluster, which mixes some physical analog elements with a majority-digital interface, and this particular X2 is also equipped with a heads-up display – and not the same kind of Mini heads-up display that projects onto a small piece of clear plexiglass. The interior is cozy and darker than what the X1, thanks to the higher door sills and smaller windows all around. From a quantitative standpoint, the X2 features 195L less of available cargo capacity when you fold the rear seats down. However, those seats still come down in a 40/20/40 split seat, which is handy.
Being based on the BMW UKL (literally “lower class” in German) platform that the X1 and various Mini platforms share, means it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to see similar power units under the hood. Mounted transversely, BMW’s new B48 engine utilizes twin-scroll turbocharging, and direct gasoline injection to produce 228 horsepower from 5,000-6,000RPM and 258 lb-ft. of torque from a handy 1450-4500RPM. Power is managed through a transversely-mounted eight-speed automatic transmission, (supplied by Aisin), and sent to all four wheels via front-biased application of BMW’s xDrive. All things considered, BMW says the X2 will do the 0-100km/h sprint in 6.5 seconds.
As with other products on this platform, BMW has done a fantastic job calibrating that Aisin eight-speed “Sports automatic transmission”. An aggressive torque converter lockup strategy means a nice and direct feel from the transmission, with quick shifts and gear ratios that really take advantage of the generous low-rpm torque output. One thing that doesn’t quite fit the traditional BMW “feel”, however, is the overall driving position. I don’t often need to utilize the adjustable thigh supports, but the seat bottoms in the X2 are so uncharacteristically “short”, it’s almost a requirement to have them extended, full-time. This feels more like a Mini-style driving position, rather than a BMW in the traditional sense.
In the driver’s seat of the X2, that overall “MINI” feel of agility carries over from the X1. You still get most of the darty go-kart handling, but it feels BMW wanted to tame it somewhat, to better separate the X2 away from its cousins. The steering weight increases when you enable the Sport driving mode, but as is typical for today’s electric power steering systems, there’s still not in the way of steering feel. The X2 doesn’t benefit from a fancy “M Sport” brake system, so it makes do with a standard floating caliper configuration at all four corners. Normally, this wouldn’t be such a big deal, but this particular X2 was lacking brake feel – it was actually difficult to modulate brake pressure as you come to a stop. The 20-inch wheels mentioned earlier are certainly striking to look at, but the fact that they’re paired up with low-profile run-flat tires, means the ride quality over sharp road impacts can be quite rough.
BMW Canada rates the X2 xDrive28i at 11.0L/100km in the city, 7.7L/100km on the highway, and 9.5L/100km in a combined cycle. During my week of mixed city and highway driving (about 500km), I ended up with an indicated average of 9.2L/100km. The X2 will hold about 51L of premium 91-octane fuel. To help reduce fuel consumption in the city, the X2 is fitted with an idle start-stop system.
Pricing starts at $42,250 for a base BMW X2 xDrive28i. You still get all-wheel drive, automatic transmission, Bluetooth, automatic climate control, and the list goes on. Our particular tester was fitted with the Premium Package Enhanced option, which adds $5,900 to the price, and it includes items such as a heated steering wheel, power rear tailgate, comfort access, panoramic sunroof, heads-up display, automatic parking, satellite navigation, sport seats, among other things. The $2,250 M Sport X package adds more “BMW M” bits, such as a thick-rim M steering wheel, exterior contrast cladding, adaptive dampers, and rear spoiler. This particular tester was fully loaded, and also was equipped with premium Harman/Kardon audio, leather seating surfaces, wireless phone charging, “M Sport” steering, and Galvanic Gold paint. The as-tested price, as a result, balloons to $54,845, before taxes, freight, and additional fees.
The biggest competition to the X2 happens to come from within the BMW family, over in the MINI camp. The Countryman is built on a similar platform, is powered with similar hardware, but features a very different overall look and feel, one that is not very “BMW”. Equipping a MINI John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4 (reviewed here) similarly to the BMW X2 produces an estimated MSRP of approximately $50,000, which happens to undercut the X2 by a few thousand dollars. The same applies for the BMW X1, which gives you a more practical package, with a more low-key look and feel, for a bit less money. On the other end of the scale, you can get a basic Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 for $55,300. You’d be missing out on some performance and luxury features, but you’d be in command of something with actual performance credentials – 375 horsepower is nothing to scoff at.
What the X2 allows BMW to do is get even more mileage out of an existing platform. Historically, people have been willing to pay extra for something that is more stylish and unique, and that premium over the X1 represents a margin that is more lucrative for any automaker. The X2 is more of a product that is bought on emotional grounds. If value matters to you, crunching the numbers may muddy the field, and if I were in these shoes, I think the more practical choices would lead me elsewhere. Staying in the BMW family, the X1 would provide that similar BMW, with more space. Leaving the BMW brand (but not the family) would lead me towards my personal favourite: the MINI Clubman S ALL4. You’d still get that cargo capacity, in a package that handles better, for less money. None of this really matters if the BMW X2 fits your sense of style; in this case, BMW has something for you in its diverse and wide-ranging lineup.