Looks can really matter in the premium auto segment. That much was made clear with impressive sales of Mercedes’ GLA crossover and Audi’s Q3, urban four-door cars with boosted ride heights, higher driving positions and more rugged styling. Neither are built for any serious foray off the tarmac, but the point is that they look like they are. It’s a formula that works. So this year, BMW is joining the party.
Munich’s latest effort is the X2, a sporty, strongly design-led compact crossover aimed at regaining the premium compact sector crown from Mercedes. As the X6 and X4 are, essentially, lower versions of their X5 and X3 siblings, so too you might expect the X2 to be an X1 with a few styling tweaks.
Wrong. Every single exterior panel on the X2 has been designed from the ground up, specifically for this car. Sharp and aggressive, this is a BMW that breaks with convention.
Take the signature BMW kidney grille, which for the first time has been given a bold, trapezoidal shape – a design soon to be found on the flagship 8 series and the Z4 sports car. They sit between slim, sharp new headlights and above an athletic new front bumper. Other design quirks add to the X2’s uniqueness; extra BMW badges on the C-pillars.
Flared wheel arches house the 17”, 18”, 19” or 20” alloys, depending on which one you prefer, finished in Frozen Grey along with the side skirts to highlight the car’s X division pedigree. The grey makes for a pleasing contrast with the body colour too.
The driving experience is, of course, everything you would expect from a modern-day BMW. One of its biggest wins is the steering; despite the lofty driving position the X2 feels direct and dynamic through the corners, more a well-engineered hot hatch than a cumbersome SUV.
The set-up can be adjusted, depending on whether you favour sportiness, fuel economy or comfort, using the Driving Experience Control switch. Performance is solid too; the 0-100kph sprint in the standard xDrive20d SE model will take as little as 7.7 seconds – the same as a similarly spec’d Mercedes GLA and 0.2 seconds quicker than an Audi Q3. Although the X2 shares a chassis with the X1, it’s been tuned to feel more engaging, which makes this overall a very strong drivers’ car.
The interior is of a high quality too, with premium finishes giving the cabin a classy feel. Engine noise is kept to a minimum even at motorway speeds, and there’s very little body roll compared with its competitors.
The X2 also has one of the biggest boot capacities in its class: a very accommodating 470 litres compared with 460 in the Audi and only 421 in the Mercedes. That can be extended to a total 1355 litres when the rear seats, which can be split 40/20/40, are laid down.
Perhaps the X2’s strongest suit, however, is the tech. As with most new BMWs to hit the market these days, it’s been endowed with the class-leading BMW Connected+ service, which optimises the connection between your smartphone and the car. You can use it to send your route to the car, share your current position with others, use your smartphone to display route on foot after you leave the car.
You’ll get a 6.6” colour iDrive navigation system in the centre console, displaying navigation, weather and trip information and a rear parking camera. Spend a few minutes with the options list and all manner of extra toys can be added.
The whole package comes together at an on-the-road base price from €43,960 – for which you’ll get a rewarding driving experience, show-stopper looks and a generous amount of space inside the cabin. The X2 range begins its life on a high.