In-depth reviews

BMW X2 SUV - Engines, drive & performance

The BMW X2 is more responsive and agile than a typical SUV, but it could be more involving

Carbuyer Rating

3.6 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

​​The BMW X2 uses the same mechanical package as the fine-handling X1, so it’s off to a good start in the driving department. 

The range-topping M Sport will attract driving enthusiasts, thanks to its firmer suspension and a 10mm lower ride height, while the M35i adds a fiery 302 bhp engine. Physics are firmly in the X2's favour, too – with a lower body than the X1, it feels more agile and manoeuvrable from behind the wheel. This is enhanced by a relatively low driving position, which really gives you a feeling of control.

As a result of this sporty setup, the X2 drives more like a sporty hatchback than an SUV and barely leans at all when cornering hard. The steering is direct and response is immediate when you turn the wheel, but despite BMW's efforts, there's no more steering feel than you get in the X1.

With its lower suspension, the M Sport gets the most out of the X2's very capable chassis; its bigger wheels have a tight grip on the road and really encourage spirited driving. This comes at a cost, though – M Sport versions are a little more pricey compared to Sport trim and their ride quality is somewhat on the firm side. A set of 19-inch wheels come as standard and the optional 20-inch alloys have an even more noticeable effect on the ride. We’d recommend avoiding versions with run-flat tyres if you can help it, as these do no favours for the already firm ride.

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The turbocharged 2.0-litre M35i is incredibly quick, covering ground at an astonishing rate. Yet, it feels somewhat muted and sensible compared with the excitable Cupra Formentor, coming across like a range-topping X2, rather than something truly special from BMW's M division.

BMW X2 diesel engines

The 2.0-litre diesel 187bhp engine appears in models with the xDrive20d designation, which also signifies standard four-wheel drive. These models can reach 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds, while the four-wheel drive setup also brings greater traction on loose or slippery surfaces at the cost of fuel economy. Despite its generous power the diesel isn't a particularly sporty engine, and it feels better suited to long-distance cruising. The standard eight-speed automatic is smooth and responsive.

Front-wheel-drive sDrive18d models are fitted with a less powerful 148bhp version of the 2.0-litre diesel, and a four-wheel-drive xDrive18d is also offered. Zero to 62mph takes just over nine seconds.

Petrol engines

The two-wheel-drive, 2.0-litre sDrive20i and four-wheel drive xDrive20i use the same engine found in the BMW X1, generating 189bhp and a 0-62mph time of under eight seconds. The reduced weight of two-wheel drive means it's likely to feel more responsive, too, and could well be the most entertaining X2 to drive. As a result, we'd only recommend the four-wheel drive version if you do lots of your driving in rural areas.

With 302bhp, the BMW X2 M35i offers a big step up in power. It comes with four-wheel drive as standard as well as an eight-speed automatic gearbox, helping it launch from 0-62mph in five seconds.The fastest X2 barely looks any different from a diesel in M Sport trim, disguising the fact it would beat a Honda Civic Type R in a drag race.

The discreet theme continues on the inside and extends to the driving experience. The X2 M35i is undoubtedly quick, but it's also quiet and its steering doesn't offer much feel, which robs it of the excitement delivered by the Cupra Ateca.

Hybrid engine

The BMW X2 xDrive25e combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor, which provides a boost of power to the four-wheel drive system. Power is increased to 217bhp, and the plug-in X2 is the quickest in the range besides the M35i with a 6.8-second 0-62mph time. The six-speed automatic transmission is smooth enough, even if it’s missing a couple of ratios compared to BMW’s latest eight-speed gearbox.

It’s worth remembering that the hybrid X2 is the heaviest in the range, too, and that’s really apparent on typical British tarmac. It jolts and crashes into bumps, and feels unsettled on smooth road surfaces. In fact, it feels a little unrefined because the car’s suspension seems to react to every imperfection on the road surface.

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