Take one SUV, sand the roofline down for a rakish fastback appearance, reduce rear passenger space and cargo volume, charge customers more money, and you have the recipe for a BMW Sports Activity Coupe.
To create the new 2018 BMW X2, this is precisely what BMW has done to its entry-level X1. However, the result, which the company characterizes as “sporty,” “urban,” and “extrovert(ed),” is to this critic’s eye a much more successful transformation than those which produced the BMW X4 or the BMW X6.
Why’s that? Well, it still looks like an SUV.
Based on the X1, the new X2 is 3.2 inches shorter and 2.8 inches lower to the ground. Such diminutive dimensions likely prevented BMW designers from employing a true fastback roofline for the X2, and in turn that preserves its more traditional silhouette and familiar proportions. Personally, I like the result far more than the rather awkward and ungainly X4 and X6 models.
New stylistic flourishes include “reinterpreted” kidney grilles that widen from top to bottom, BMW roundels affixed to the rear roof pillars, and Frozen Gray lower body detailing on the new X2 M Sport X versions, which BMW says is inspired by rally racing. Naturally, the squat greenhouse tapers into a Hofmeister kink at the rear roof pillars.
Standard equipment includes LED headlights, running lights, and taillights. Twin exhaust outlets provide a sporty look at the rear, along with an optional M spoiler over the rear glass. The X2 is equipped with standard 18-inch aluminum wheels, with 19- and 20-inch wheels available. A bold new color called Galvanic Gold also debuts on the X2.
Traditional BMW design themes and a driver-focused layout characterize the X2’s interior.
SensaTec upholstery is standard, with leather an option. Depending on equipment and packaging, the X2 is offered with a variety of cabin trims ranging from high-gloss black to aluminum to matte wood, while pearl chrome accents and contrast stitching are standard for all models.
Ambient lighting is standard, enhanced by optional LED contour lighting. An available panoramic glass sunroof bathes the interior in natural light.
BMW says the X2’s seating position is slightly lower than in the X1, and drivers face Black Panel instrumentation that comes to life when he or she pushes the engine start button. A full-color head-up display is an option.
The latest version of iDrive 6.0 is included for every X2, with a 6.5-inch touchscreen display and cloud-based voice control in addition to the familiar iDrive controller on the center console. With the optional navigation system, the screen measures up to 8.8 inches.
Through BMW ConnectedDrive Services, X2 owners may avail themselves of Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and Share Live Trip Status functionality, among other features. A wireless device charging pad is also available for the new X2.
A Driving Assistance Package installs forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and low-speed automatic emergency braking. It also features a lane departure warning system, automatic high-beam headlights, and more. Additionally, X2 buyers can opt for adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, and a Parking Assistant that helps to identify properly sized parallel parking spaces and steers the SUV into them while the driver operates the transmission and pedals.
A turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine supplies power to an xDrive all-wheel-drive system. The engine generates 228 horsepower between 5,000 rpm and 6,000 rpm, and 258 lb.-ft. of torque between 1,450 rpm and 4,500 rpm.
An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard, while an 8-speed sports automatic transmission gives the X2 M Sport X version snappier shifting characteristics along with a set of paddle shifters. BMW claims the X2 can accelerate to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds.
The xDrive all-wheel-drive system operates in front-drive mode until the rear wheels are necessary. Software continually monitors vehicle speed, wheel speed, lateral and longitudinal acceleration, accelerator position, steering angle, and vehicle pitch, and also takes into account the Driving Dynamics Control and Dynamic Stability Control settings. Based on this information, it engages the rear wheels as is necessary for maximum traction and/or performance.
Through the Driving Dynamics Control system, drivers can choose between Eco Pro, Comfort, and Sport driving modes. The BMW X2 is also equipped with a Hill Descent Control system, and if you elect to travel off of the pavement, know that the SUV provides 7.2 inches of ground clearance.
Compared to the X1 on which it is based, the new X2 has a retuned chassis in order to provide a more engaging driving character. An M Sport suspension option drops the SUV by nearly half an inch, and a Dynamic Damper Control suspension is also available.
Of course, one of the main reasons for choosing an SUV over a car in the first place is extra utility and trunk space. The BMW X2 supplies 21.6 cu.-ft. of cargo room behind the rear seat, and up to 50.1 cu.-ft. when the rear seat is folded down. That’s less than the X1, but more than the X4.
Let me say that again. The BMW X2 has more cargo space than the larger and more expensive BMW X4.
Pricing for the new X2 has not been announced, but when it goes on sale in the spring of 2018, my bet is that the opening window sticker will slide in just south of the $40,000 mark.
Though that would make it more expensive than either the Infiniti QX30 or the Mercedes-Benz GLA 250, it’s important to remember that those vehicles do not come with all-wheel drive as standard equipment. Instead, consider Jaguar’s new E-Pace to be the X2’s most similar rival in the subcompact premium SUV segment.
In any case, of BMW’s family of Sports Activity Coupes, I think the X2 will become the most successful of the trio. It looks the best, and it provides more value and more cargo room than the X4. It can’t match its larger siblings in terms of performance, but then, outright acceleration and handling capability likely isn’t high on an X2 shopper’s list.