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In-depth reviews

BMW X2 review - Engines, drive & performance

Unfortunately for a brand with driver enjoyment as its USP, the BMW X2 is disappointing to drive

Carbuyer Rating

3.9 out of 5

Owners Rating
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Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.0 out of 5

When we tested the BMW X2 in M35i guise, we were disappointed by the handling – despite this being the sportiest model in the lineup. It doesn’t feel particularly capable through the corners unless these were longer, faster bends. That’s despite the M35i’s 15mm-lower ride height and adaptive dampers that don’t feature on the standard model. The X2 felt cumbersome when asked to change direction quickly and the front wheels tended to drift wide of our chosen line on tighter bends, which didn’t inspire a lot of confidence.

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We weren’t even especially impressed by the M35i’s engine. The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit does perform well, but it’s a little lacking in character and the dual-clutch gearbox doesn’t feel particularly slick and as a result the X2 M35i seemed a little half-baked. We’d go as far as to say that the Cupra Formentor offers much more fun than the X2 with more of a hot hatch feel to entertain the keen driver.

For the most part the ride quality is good, but stiff undertones in the M35i’s suspension means it can be easily upset by imperfections in the road and sharper inputs from the driver. It felt best suited when steadily cruising along, so we’d expect the entry-level car would make more sense for most buyers and for everyday driving. The 20-inch wheels on our test car produced quite a bit of tyre noise, but the smaller 19-inch alloys on entry-level cars are likely to improve matters a little.

Is the BMW X2 good to drive in town?

The BMW X2’s stiff suspension means it’s likely not to be the best to drive around town, especially on pothole-filled roads. Its ride suffers when having to change direction quickly, so won’t be very well suited to weaving in and out of traffic or through tighter roads. If you’re going to do a lot of around-town driving, we’d recommend going for the iX2 as it will be cheaper to run for shorter journeys, though we’d avoid the X2 M35i.

Is the BMW X2 good to drive on long journeys?

We found the BMW X2 to be much better suited to cruising at speed on the motorway than anywhere else. On these wide and gradually-bending roads the X2’s suspension felt better prepared, compared to roads which required a more rapid change of direction.

Is the BMW X2 good to drive on B-roads?

You’d expect from its sleek and sporty look – as well as the BMW badge – that the X2 would be a joy to drive, but we found the X2 a little unsettled on tighter, twistier roads. The X2 didn’t respond well to rapid changes in direction, despite its slightly firm suspension setup, and we experienced a fair bit of understeer on tight corners, as well as a wallowy feeling given its taller body height.

Petrol models

The BMW X2 is offered in just two petrol versions from launch. There’s a front-wheel drive 1.5-litre turbocharged mild-hybrid sDrive20i model with respectable – if unremarkable – performance, which should suit buyers not particularly bothered about a sporting drive. 

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Above this is the M35i, which gets a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with four-wheel drive and a 5.3s 0-62mph time that’s quicker by a whole two seconds. While it’s intended as the driver-focused version of the X2, we would actually stick to the entry-level model as the extra cost doesn’t get you a substantially more enjoyable drive.

Model 

Power

0-62mph

Top speed

sDrive20i

168bhp

8.3 seconds

132mph

M35i xDrive

296bhp

5.3 seconds

155mph

Plug-in hybrid models

The previous-generation BMW X2 was offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain – this option is omitted from the latest X2’s lineup from launch, but could make a return later.

Electric models 

The BMW X2 is offered as a fully-electric model badged the iX2, which we’ve reviewed separately. This is offered in two power outputs: 201bhp or 302bhp, badged eDrive20 and xDrive30 respectively. In testing, we actually found the more powerful version a little too fast for its own good, and it felt like the added mass of the batteries affected the car’s ride and composure even more negatively than that of the petrol-powered model. We’ve yet to drive the less-powerful, front-wheel drive model, but we suspect it may actually prove a little better to drive overall.

Carbuyer notes

“If you expect this rapid BMW to be a jacked-up but super-stylish alternative to a regular hot hatchback, you’re probably going to be disappointed.” John McIlroy, Editor-at-large

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Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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