Review: The BMW X2

The rugged demeanour of the X2 belies the vulnerability of its wheel rims and low-profile tyres
The rugged demeanour of the X2 belies the vulnerability of its wheel rims and low-profile tyres
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BMW’s X-rated range continues with the X2, The X badge is akin to the Q range at Audi and the XC series at Volvo. Mercedes-Benz has the GL. They are activity-focused, with the option of 4x4 traction for some mild all-terrain ability or slithery roads.

The X2 comes with apparent contradictions. Numerically, it is one up on BMW’s X1 but it is slightly smaller, although on a shared platform, from the same factory. With its wheel-arch cladding and side sills it beckons you off-road – except the low profile tyres and vulnerable wheel rims are hardly sensible for even mildly unsurfaced roads. My misunderstanding. Ping.

Like Q3 and XC40 and Range Rover Evoque and X1 and GLA and the Mini Countryman (which also has the BMW platform) it is front-wheel-drive with the option of 4x4 drive. Into this sextet we can add the bulbous Jaguar E-Pace, the outsider on a rear-drive chassis with 4x4 optional.

Yes, it is a hot group, from which we can remove the Mini on the basis of sheer snobbery. It will not turn the right heads at the school fete or point-to-point or, in these days of easy payment rentals, in sundry housing estates populated by cars with prestige badges.

Obviously, I’m tempted to pick the Jag. It’s arguably the best-looking, has the best badge, the true Brit pedigree (though built in Austria); it is almost stunning. Being in it elevates your image.

Not everyone will agree. Bumper-to-bumper Evoques and Audis in cosy suburbia show how many of us choose those cars. I could also put up a good case for buying the Volvo. It is very nice inside. It is made in Belgium.

The X2 is made in Germany. Mine for the week was the front-drive petrol turbo sDrive 20i with a seven-speed double clutch automatic gearbox. It proved to be powerful and sporty but we got off to a bad start. I’d just had a week with a Mercedes E400 convertible which had a powerful twin turbo V6 petrol engine. Apart from its wallet-busting thirst this was glorious motoring.

The greater tyre noise from the X2 was a surprise and intrusive, mostly from the front wheels (shod with run-flat Pirellis). A careful turn up on to a low pavement slightly nicked a front rim – poorly protected by the shallow-walled P-Zero tyres. My mistake again and I then avoided kerbs like the plague. As the days passed, the road hum and drumming continued to intrude. The optional 20-inch wheels and skimpier rubber were perhaps a factor.

The other minus point was the tendency for the front wheels to squirm when turning at certain speeds. 
Am I being picky? It’s to do with the traction control? Maybe. The latest Ford 
Focus shows how good things can be.

BMW came to prominence with its rear-wheel-drive cars. Most are still rear-drive. They are hard to beat for refinement and driving pleasure. I’ve yet to be convinced by its front-drive chassis.

However, we know that it allows extra space inside the car and in winter gives far more reliable grip than rear-drive, which will reduce the car and you to a slithering basket case. Happily, BMW offers x-drive 4x4 on most models.

My X2 demo was in souped up M Sport X trim, from £35,400. There was no extra charge for the Dakota leather interior. A 61-litre (touring) fuel tank added £40. The standard tank holds 51 litres. The HUD was in a £1,260 Tech Pack which brought uprated navigation and Bluetooth with wireless phone charging and a wifi hotspot. A panoramic roof added £945. Folding anti-dazzle mirrors and a smart reversing camera were £710.

The interior lifted it into a class of its own. The garish/bold “magma” red leather and synthetic trim gives it the gasp factor many of us crave. They had the full power adjustment system, moving the side bolsters to fit your torso (part of a £740 comfort pack). The head-up display on the windscreen showed speed limits, your chosen speed, whether you were exceeding it, and gave a countdown to navigation junctions. The routing had a few surprise detours and some iffy diction, viz “raing road” for ring road and “Keeley” for Keighley. I’d have liked time to take it to Kirkcudbright…

OK, the sDrive X2 grew on me. The official overall economy of 48mpg never looked possible but a motorway drive snuck up to 44mpg, “commuting” averaged 35 to 42mpg depending on the traffic flow and specific route. On a longer route I had the rare sight of a snorting BMW Z1 – the one with the drop-down doors.

From the outside the best view of the X2 is the rear, more coupé-like and smarter than an X1 or X3. Note, too, the BMW roundels on the rear roof pillars.

Verdict: Maybe, maybe, go on then…