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Road tests

New BMW iX2 2024 review: struggles against iX1 on everything but looks

The new BMW iX2 electric SUV has styling on its side, but is less appealing than the impressive iX1

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

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Verdict

Unless you’re sold on its looks, it’s hard to find the BMW iX2 anything but less appealing than its close relation, the iX1. The coupé-SUV’s ride quality is every bit as poor as the regular model’s, and there’s less headroom in the rear cabin to boot. This four-wheel-drive iX2 is a bit too fast for its own good too; the more modest front-drive edition might actually prove better to drive overall, as well as offering cost savings and extra range.

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It’s inevitable that as car companies roll out new models with electrification at their core, we’re going to see more of the traditional market niches ticked off. BMW is certainly banking on it with its latest generation of X2, because not only is it making this model available as an EV for the first time, it’s also switching body styles to give it a more sporty look.

In simple terms, the X2 swaps from being a car that was neither a proper SUV nor a proper five-door hatchback, to a true coupe-SUV sister to the X1. You can buy the car with a choice of 1.5-litre three-cylinder and 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engines, but it’s also being offered as an iX2, with a choice of powertrains. 

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There aren’t many obvious rivals for this car right now, but BMW will be hoping that the iX2 can pinch sales from the likes of the Polestar 2, as well as Audi’s Q4 e-tron and even the Mercedes EQA.

The BMW range starts with the iX2 eDrive20, which has a single front-mounted motor producing 201bhp and 250Nm of torque, and a 64.8kWh (net) battery that’s good, BMW claims, for a range of between 272 and 283 miles of range – with rapid recharges at up to 130kW – so a 10 to 80 per cent top-up should take around half an hour. This model costs from £51,615, which is a smidgen more than what you’d pay for a bells-and-whistles X2 M35i petrol model; electric cars (and their batteries) still don’t come cheap, it seems.

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For those who want their electric coupe SUV to deliver the sporting straightline speed to match the looks, there’s the iX2 xDrive30 that we’re driving today. It has dual motors – one on each axle – producing a combined 309bhp and 494Nm of torque, making this a car with prodigious performance (0-62mph takes 5.6 seconds, only a whisker longer than the M35i). 

The battery capacity remains the same as in the eDrive20, though, so you pay a price in range for this extra pace; it drops to between 259 and 267 miles depending on specification. And of course, the price jumps in the opposite direction; this is a £57,445 car, which seems an awful lot to pay for a vehicle that is based on the same underpinnings as many a MINI.

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That said, both iX2 versions come only in M Sport trim, which brings a fair amount of standard equipment. You get 19-inch alloy wheels, powered folding mirrors, Alcantara upholstery, heated front sports seats, a powered tailgate, air conditioning, a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel and high-gloss exterior trim elements. 

Also included is BMW’s latest OS9 infotainment system, based on a 10.7-inch central display – but as with the latest X1, not with any sort of rotary iDrive controller. It’s touchscreen prods or nothing here, and that includes for certain key functions such as the heating and ventilation.

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Climb aboard and the first thing that strikes you about the iX2’s cabin is that its finish is on a completely different level from the first generation car’s. There are perhaps a few too many textures visible on the dashboard – a diamond pattern on the top and a swirly line across the metallic front panel, for example – but there’s no faulting the materials or the quality of the switches. It feels every bit a £50k car – just as it should. There are useful cubbies in the front too, including a tilted wireless charging panel for smartphones, and a couple of USB-C ports lurk behind the twin cup holders.

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Flick the simple toggle gear selector into D to pull away and you’ll be impressed by the smooth power delivery and excellent electric-motor refinement. There’s a firm edge to the suspension at lower speeds, mind – an early reminder that BMW’s engineers have had to set the chassis to cope with a 2.1-tonne vehicle.

Sadly, that impression of mass is something that the iX2 struggles to shake, and in many of the situations where you might be forgiven for expecting a BMW to deliver more involvement than you’d find in its rivals. There’s instant punch alright – enough for the iX2 to feel properly rapid if you’re joining a motorway or squirting between corners – but equally, the car never quite feels like one with more than 300bhp and almost 500Nm of torque.

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The ride never quite settles either, with what seems to have been an overriding focus on keeping the body flat at a fast cruise (tip: think autobahns) resulting in a stiff primary set-up that no amount of softened-off damping can overcome. Indeed, chuck the iX2 around on a genuinely bumpy road and you’ll find that it struggles to get out of its own way, as the car fights to settle between changes of direction. The steering is consistently weighty but devoid of feedback, and if you do lose patience and hurl the iX2 at a corner, the front end will just slide across the asphalt in an armful of understeer.

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The weird thing is that it’s never genuinely uncomfortable; it’s tied down in most scenarios, really. Yet we can’t help but feel that a little more compliance would probably have allowed a teeny bit more body roll but delivered a more composed performance overall.

The best environment is motorways, where the aforementioned motor refinement is joined by good wind-noise suppression to deliver a restrained cruise. 

Elsewhere, the in-car tech would be better without such heavy reliance on the touchscreen, but there are at least sensibly placed, permanent shortcuts on display for the heating, ventilation and the heated seats. The system itself is typical BMW – so responses are snappy and there’s already a decent range of third-party apps that you can add, for entertainment (podcasts and music) to enjoy on the move or, in the case of movie streaming and gaming, while parked up at a charging station.

The coupé body style, meanwhile, does little for the rear cabin, where you’ll find a respectable amount of leg and kneeroom for six-footers, but restricted headroom for anyone that height. At least the boot is a decent size, at 525 litres – and while the floor isn’t a true variable-height affair, it is hinged close to the rear seat backs, so it lifts up easily and stays in place when you want to throw cables into the lower of its compartments.

Model:BMW iX2 eDrive30
Price:£57,445
Powertrain:64.8kWh battery, 2x e-motors
Power/torque:309bhp/494Nm
Transmission:Single-speed auto, four-wheel drive
0-62mph:5.4 seconds
Top speed:155mph
Range:259-267 miles
Max charging:130kW (10-80% in 29min)
Size (L/W/H):4,554/1,845/1,590mm
On sale:Now
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Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

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