BMW X2 SUV review
"The surprisingly practical BMW X2 fuses eye-catching SUV looks with hot-hatch road manners"
- Stylish looks
- Agile handling
- Diesel economy
- Firm ride
- High price
- Expensive options
BMW has ridden the SUV bandwagon ever since the original BMW X5 launched in 1998. This was before the current boom in off-road-style vehicles began, and its range has steadily broadened since with the X1, X3, X4, X6 and finally the range-topping X7. You'll notice a number missing from that sequence, and the first-ever BMW X2 completes BMW's petrol- and diesel-powered SUV line-up.
As with other even-numbered BMWs, the X2 is more sportily styled than the upright odd-numbered models. It's nominally a coupe version of the BMW X1, with which it shares a chassis, but is actually a very different, far more low-slung design. It's a direct rival for the Audi Q2, DS 4, Lexus UX, Mercedes GLA and Volkswagen T-Roc, as well as tempting buyers out of premium hatchbacks such as the Audi A3, Mercedes A-Class and the mechanically related BMW 1 Series.
The BMW X2 is intended to appeal to a younger, more fashion-conscious buyer than its comparatively plain X1 sister. It's unashamedly designed for style, with a curvaceous roofline that suggests it's intended for more than just the mundanity of everyday life. It doesn't want to look like a family car, even though that's exactly what many will become. Fortunately, although that shapely roof puts the squeeze on rear headroom, the X2 will accommodate a young family almost as easily as the X1.
The X2 is far more than just an X1 with a roof chop, though. The two cars share a structure, but the X2's outward identity is all its own. It has stayed remarkably true to the concept X2 that was first revealed in 2016, complete with shallow side windows, broad rear hips and a low overall profile. It's not as tall as a conventional SUV, either, and looks more like a rugged, muscular hatchback, while bold colours such as Galvanic Gold (a £600 option) really catch the eye.
Things are less adventurous inside, where much of the interior design is the same as the X1's, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The dashboard is good-looking and easy to understand, and there's little to criticise when it comes to fit and finish. The Audi Q2 beats the BMW for overall quality, but the X2 gets the nod for style, even if it can’t match the flair of the Mercedes GLA. As a newer car, the GLA also feels that bit more modern inside.
Buyers can choose from BMW's tried-and-tested 2.0-litre diesel engine, with 187bhp and four-wheel drive as standard, a two-wheel-drive sDrive20i petrol and four-wheel drive xDrive20i with 176bhp. There's also a less powerful sDrive18d diesel with 148bhp and sDrive18i petrol with 134bhp. A plug-in hybrid X2 xDrive25e is available as well, with up to 33 miles of electric range.
Joining quick crossovers such as the Audi SQ2, Cupra Ateca and Volkswagen T-Roc R, the BMW X2 M35i offers drivers much of the performance of a BMW M135i but in a more sensible package. The powerful engine comes at a cost though – more than £47,000 in this case, which looks expensive for a small SUV.
The entry-level SE specification has been withdrawn, perhaps because most buyers choose the sportier versions. Two trim levels are available: Sport and M Sport, while two extra variations of the latter (called M Sport X and M Mesh Edition) were available until early 2022 and added off-road looks like the BMW X1’s xLine trim. Above the M Sport is the M35i, which is essentially a standalone trim level. All offer clever technology like BMW's Connected+ system, which allows access to certain features via a smartphone app.
We reckon the Sport model offers the best value for money, while the biggest 20-inch wheel options on the M Sport make for a firm ride not everyone will enjoy. However, it's understandable that those who like the X2's style should want to show it off to full advantage, and the M Sport has more road presence than the other versions. The M35i is even sportier, but most will struggle to spot the visual differences from regular M Sport versions.
All BMW's latest safety technology is available, although precious little is supplied as standard. You only get autonomous emergency braking if you choose the optional driving assistance pack. The car still gets a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating, however – the independent safety experts have decided that the X1's rating also applies to its more stylish stablemate.
There's no denying that the BMW X2 is an appealing machine, striking a stylish compromise between the aspirational nature of a premium hatchback and the looks of an SUV, without becoming bulky or boring. Our pick of the range is the sDrive18i M Sport, thanks to its low running costs, reasonable list price, and decent performance. The X2 is one of the most entertaining crossovers to drive, but if it's a high driving position or a cavernous boot that draws you to SUVs, you'll be better off with the taller, less expensive BMW X1.