Range Rover Evoque vs BMW X2
BMW’s curvy new X2 coupe-SUV meets the Range Rover Evoque in a style-led battle
As part of BMW’s efforts to produce a model for every number ranging from one to eight, the company has introduced the X2. And as the name suggests, this latest product slots in between the X1 and X3 in the firm’s SUV line-up.
BMW calls it a Sports Activity Coupé, and it’s similar in concept to the larger X4 and X6 models, with a sportier look than the X1 it’s based on. But while its larger siblings are rather niche and don’t have many direct rivals, the X2 enters a closely fought compact premium SUV market.
When it arrived in 2011, the Evoque proved an instant hit for Land Rover, and it’s still popular today. Constant updates have kept the car fresh, although its pricing means that the high-spec X2 we’re testing here only matches a mid-range Evoque.
In this battle for style and consumer appeal, does the X2 have the right ingredients to show its established rival the way home? Or does the Range Rover still have a winning mix of talents to take victory?
|Range Rover Evoque 2.0 TD4 SE Tech auto
|BMW X2 xDrive20d M Sport auto
|2.0-litre 4cyl, 178bhp
|2.0-litre 4cyl, 187bhp
|Annual road tax:
For: Simple iDrive control system, crystal-clear graphics, online services
Against: Some buttons obscured, advanced nav a pricey option (but adds good tech)
Like BMW’s other Sports Activity Coupés, the X2 range is narrower than that of the car it’s based on, the X1 in this case. Here we test it in M Sport trim and in xDrive20d guise, which features four-wheel drive and an eight-speed auto box as standard. It’s priced from £37,580.
With a driving position that’s more like a hatchback than an SUV, the BMW X2 feels more like a hatch to drive than the Evoque. The steering is direct and the chassis has plenty of grip, while the car doesn’t suffer from as much body roll as the Range Rover, either.
In most situations, xDrive-equipped versions of the X2 behave like front-wheel-drive models, and only send power to the back wheels when the electronics sense a loss of grip. That means the new BMW offers keen turn-in and changes direction quickly, with the four-wheel drive intervening effectively but also unobtrusively when needed.
This sporty drive does result in a firm ride, but the X2 isn’t uncomfortable. So while you can feel big bumps, on the whole the BMW rides well, although we’d suggest avoiding the larger 20-inch wheel option to maintain comfort. On the standard 19-inch alloys, you’ll hear more road noise than in the Evoque.
BMW’s 2.0-litre diesel is 9bhp more powerful than Land Rover’s TD4 unit, and combined with a faster-shifting eight-speed auto, the X2 was 1.3 seconds quicker than the Evoque in the sprint from 0-60mph. It was faster through the gears, too, and sharper throttle response meant that the BMW’s 30Nm torque deficit wasn’t noticeable on the road.
Testers’ notes: “Need more space than the X2 offers? The X1 might suit you. It’s around £1,300 cheaper, has a 35-litre larger boot and more room in the rear. It’s also just as efficient, so will be affordable to run.”
Range Rover Evoque
For: Plenty of connectivity options, good sound system, voice control
Against: Screen a bit distracting, no easy way to zoom in and out of nav, no CarPlay
The Evoque has been a smash hit for Land Rover, with record sales. It’s been facelifted and given annual updates to keep it competitive against newer rivals like the X2, so it still has appeal. We test the £37,915 TD4 SE Tech 5dr auto here, although the car in our pictures is a pricier Landmark Edition.
An emissions-friendly nine-speed automatic gearbox has been added to the Evoque’s spec list. As an auto is standard on the X2 xDrive20d, that’s what we tested here on the Range Rover. Clearly, however, the box is designed for comfort rather than acceleration, and while its shifts are smooth, they don’t make for scintillating performance.
Even so, we managed 0-60mph in 8.5 seconds, and while that was half a second faster than Land Rover’s claimed time, it was still 1.3 seconds more than the X2 needed for the sprint. Acceleration through the gears feels a little blunted, too.
Indeed, ninth gear is so long, we weren’t able to achieve a 50-70mph acceleration time. Having such a long top gear can be a hindrance in some cars, because it forces the transmission to kick down into lower ratios, but at least when the Evoque does, it’s smooth and unobtrusive, so refinement remains unruffled at motorway speeds.
We recorded slightly lower noise figures in the Range Rover, too, proving the Ingenium engine’s smoothness and the car’s generally relaxed nature.
The Evoque wasn’t as focused as the BMW in corners, but then these SUVs aren’t designed for blitzing around bends on their door handles, so it’s easy to forgive the Evoque for its softly-sprung suspension and slightly wallowy ride.
Testers’ notes: “The Landmark Edition celebrates 600,000 Evoques being built. Exclusive features include Moraine Blue paint with graphite details, plus it gets extras such as panoramic glass and a hands-free power tailgate.”
First place: BMW X2
The X2 is better to drive than the Evoque, even if you sacrifice a little comfort. It’s more practical, more conventional X1 SUV sibling makes more sense, but in this head to head the new BMW has the edge because it will be cheaper to run and offers more performance, enough practicality and just as much kit as the Range Rover for less cash (especially on finance).
Second place: Range Rover Evoque
It might be the elder statesman in this test, but the Evoque still showed strongly and it’s obvious the updates throughout its life have kept the car feeling relatively fresh. However, it’s a little behind in some key areas, which is why it trails the BMW here. The baby Range Rover is still a strong SUV thanks to its sense of style and comfort, but the X2 just shades it.
Other options in this category
Audi Q3 2.0 TDI quattro S line S tronic
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 181bhp
With a 2.0 TDI to match its rivals, the Q3 offers distinctive looks, plenty of kit and a classy cabin in top-spec S line trim. It’s more affordable and delivers decent performance, but an all-new model is due for launch later this year.
Mercedes GLA 220 d AMG Line DCT
Engine: 2.1-litre 4cyl, 177bhp
If you like the hatchback-on-stilts appeal of the X2, the GLA is worth considering. Its 2.1-litre diesel is noisy, but upgrade the AMG Line with the Premium Plus pack, and this compact 4WD is well specced for the money.
|BMW X2 xDrive20d M Sport auto
|Range Rover Evoque 2.0 TD4 SE Tech auto
|On the road price/total as tested
|Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)
|Ins. group/quote/road tax
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th
|50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket
|Auto box/lane depart/blindspot/AEB
|Clim ctrl/cruise/leather/heated seats
|Met p/LEDs/keyless entry & go/pw tail
|Sat-nav/digi dash/DAB/connected svs
|Wireless chg/CarPlay/Android Auto