/ 20 April 2024

BMW’s new X2 is 2X as nice

P90545581 Highres Bmw X2 M35i Xdrive I
True blue: The new BMW X2 has a bold look, with sharper lines than the previous model, while the rear completes the sports coupe silhouette.

It’s not often one is fortunate enough to be present at the launches of both generations of a specific product within a brand’s portfolio. 

Well, I was that lucky. I was in Cape Town seven years ago when BMW SA introduced us to the first-generation subcompact luxury crossover the X2 and again for the new generation of the model. 

Then, they had just two petrol engines on offer at the launch, as they did with this new generation. It was a strange approach but it proved to be a good product with 390 000 units sold globally. 

The world has gone SUV crazy and BMW has not been left behind as its X model portfolio has something for everyone. 

The all-new, second-generation X2 set headlines alight a few months ago when we first laid eyes on international press release pictures. We were smitten — or at least I was. 

The looks scream bold. The huge grille (which we have now come to terms with) and LED headlights plus the illuminated grille — in the instance of the flagship M35i — do justice in their way. 

Both derivatives at the launch were decked out with M Sport packages and M Sport Pro, in the M35i. 

P90545584 Highres Bmw X2 M35i Xdrive I(1)

The lines are sharper than those of its predecessors, which had a more rounded and softer look, even in  their sportiest regalia. 

The side profile highlights are the 19 to 21-inch, multi-spoke wheels wearing lovely, comfortable rubber in the S-Drive 18i we sampled first. 

The M35i has a lower-profile 245/35/21R rubber, which has serious street cred, but does compromise some comfort. 

I adore the M-specific mirrors in the M35i, while the 18i has standard glossy black covers. 

The rear end completes the sports coupe silhouette beautifully with a glossy black spoiler and bumper inserts for the 18i, and double gloss, extended quad exhaust outlets, surrounded by what we could call a diffuser, on the M35i. 

The new X2 is 194mm longer (at 4,55m), 21mm wider (at 1,84m) and 64mm higher (at 1 590m) than its predecessor. 

The exterior look on both models had me smitten and the colour selection is comprehensive. 

The interior is minimalistic, spacious and flowing, yet practical. 

The low-slung dash allows for better visibility over the curved digital display, which uses the latest BMW operating system 9. 

The centre console controls are similar to what you find in the current X1 and I was not a fan. It has visual appeal but lacks a practical and user-friendly aspect. 

The seats are possibly the second best thing about the car. They are clad in two-tone leather, with high-quality stitching, while the dash inserts in the M35i boast Alcantara-feel leather. 

You also get illuminated, powered M sport seats in the range-topper, which are super supportive.

Coupe-style SUVs, for the most part, tend to compromise on boot space, but not the X2, which has the standard 560-litre space. 

Both launch models were kitted out with a thumping Harman Kardon sound system. 

The overall feel is premium, yet sporty, and it works brilliantly. 

You now get a panoramic glass sunroof which does not open but adds an airy ambiance to the cabin.

How does it drive? The 18i has a three-cylinder, 1.5-litre, turbocharged powerplant which might just be the one for most folks, despite its 115kW and 230Nm output, which might not seem like much to haul an SUV this size. But it proved ample to send power to the front wheels via a seven-speed auto box that made gear changes an absolute cinch, even during bursts of spirited driving. 

BMW has filtered down the boost function from the new 5 Series, which is activated by tugging the upshift paddle on the steering for a few seconds to get a spurt of power, which is handy for overtaking. 

The steering does feel rather sensitive — even to the slightest input at higher speeds. 

I found the lane-keeping and departure-safety driving aids in both models intrusive. While I understand the safety aspect, I do wish they had a slightly less sensitive warning system.

The M35i comes gun blazing with a 2.0-litre force-fed mill delivering 233kW and 400Nm through a seven-speed auto gearbox sending power to all four wheels. 

This feels intoxicating — until you discover the pops and bangs are not coming from the quad exhaust pipes but rather are synthetically piped through the speakers. Eish, BMW! 

Performance, however, is strong. The car jolts with the vigour of a track athlete, romping to a claimed 5.6 seconds in the 0 to 100km/h sprint. The surge of power is relentless right up to the rev limiter, while the handling is brilliant, even with the sensitive steering. 

When one needs to shave off the momentum, the 19-inch brakes do a commendable job. 

Fake exhaust sound notwithstanding, the new BMW X2 scores high marks as a stylish sibling to the more pragmatic, yet still brilliant, X1. 

Priced at R873 793 for the S-Drive 18i and R1 223 935 for the range-topping M35i, with all the standard specifications on both derivatives, I reckon it’s a winning package.