Road tests

New BMW X2 2018 review

The stylish and sporty BMW X2 SUV has landed in Britain, but is it a hit?

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The X2 is an interesting addition to BMW’s growing family of SUVs, and it’s good to drive, thanks to that low centre of gravity and sharp steering. However, this style-driven choice certainly won’t be for everyone; it’s a bit expensive, and buyers wanting practicality and a more commanding view of the road ahead should definitely look at the X1 instead.

While almost every manufacturer is going hard after the lucrative SUV market space at the moment, BMW is undoubtedly one of the pack leaders, and the X2 is the firm’s latest arrival.

Nearly two decades have passed since the introduction of the original BMW SUV: the first X5. Today, this type of car accounts for 38 per cent of the brand’s business, with just over 700,000 vehicles delivered worldwide in 2017, thanks to a line-up of five models.

Best small SUVs and crossovers

The X2 aims to bolster that figure this year. It acts as a more stylish alternative to the conventional X1 and sits at the smallest end of the X line-up, rivalling everything from the Mercedes GLA and MINI Countryman to the likes of the Audi Q3 and Jaguar E-Pace.

Size and shape are immediately the X2’s defining characteristics. It looks quite unlike anything else on BMW’s SUV roster, designed with a younger target audience in mind.

In the same way as the Audi Q2 boasts a distinct character compared with its Q stablemates, the X2 gets plenty of unique tweaks, such as the BMW roundels on the C-pillars and that angular front bumper.

The back end is shaped rakishly with a steep rear window, and the whole car tries as hard as it can to appear squat and sporty. However, it’s quite easy to catch the X2 at an angle that looks more oversized hatchback than pert SUV.

Inside, the amount of legroom is comparable to the X1’s, and headroom isn’t impeded too much by the sharp back end. The 470-litre boot capacity is decent enough, too, albeit 35 litres down on that offered by the X1. Up front, the driving position feels fairly low – something buyers after a taller, SUV-like ride will have to compromise on.

Get settled behind the wheel, though, and the X2 is a good car to drive. The interior has been lifted almost wholesale from the X1. The design is more conventional than the exterior styling, but it oozes quality and is neatly laid out.

M Sport cars also get a sports steering wheel, which feels perfectly formed to exploit the sharp, direct set-up. With the X2 seating the driver low, and the body hunkered down a little by the coupé-like rear end, the centre of gravity feels more like that of a hatchback. The X2 is an agile crossover, in fact, and dynamically, it’s a treat. M Sport cars ride 10mm lower than other models thanks to sports suspension, too.

Ride quality is par for the course for BMWs – so it’s a bit firm at low speeds and on B-roads, but smoothes out nicely at pace for comfy motorway cruising.

The 20d diesel powertrain will be the volume seller, and it’s hooked up to an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard. It’s also only available with xDrive all-wheel drive, but that doesn’t make the small X2 feel too heavy. Front-wheel-drive cars will be available later, and they could well be lighter and just that bit more agile again.

The engine itself is fairly impressive. Its 400Nm of torque is delivered over a wide band, so it’s pretty flexible and picks up the pace well with a squeeze of the throttle. It’s not too noisy, either, and claims respectable fuel economy figures. But its character is still a little out of tune with the sporty chassis settings.

The X2 is an appealing package for premium crossover buyers after something different, then. Trouble is, it doesn’t serve up the tall, commanding position on the road many customers crave. It’s fairly pricey, too; the loftier, more practical X1 is cheaper, and while the X2 is a better car than the Mercedes GLA, you’ll pay a noticeable premium for it, especially on monthly PCP deals.

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