BMW X2

Style over utility at a price: $2K more than an X1 X1

JOHN CAREY

PLUS & MINUS

Agile, enjoyable handling; classy interior; doesn’t resemble an X4 or X6 Ride ranges from busy to brutal; refinement; higher-than-X1 prices

FIRST OVERSEAS DRIVE

DID SOMEONE in Munich forget to hit the ‘Caps Lock’ key? BMW’s new small crossover SUV is more ‘x’ than ‘X’. The X2 is, in essence, a lower-case X1.

The difference in height is a little more than 70mm, and the X2 is also almost 80mm shorter overall, with an identical wheelbase. Also shared are engines, transmissions, and chassis components.

The five-door body of the X2 was penned with the aim of attracting the kind of customer who would never consider the X1, according to project head Julius Schluppkotten. And it does look entirely different, chiefly because not a single panel is shared.

“When we started the car we had very clearly the idea to focus on younger customers,” says Schluppkotten, recalling the X2’s embryonic stage three or four years ago. The pumped-up hatchback look should appeal to city dwellers who value style over practicality, with a pinch of added parking ease thrown in, he argues.

While the BMW roundel on the X2’s C-pillar is a designer’s nod in the direction of classic 1970s metal like the 3.0 CSL coupe, the X2’s interior embraces thoroughly modern notions of practicality, flexibility and technology.

The instruments, instrument panel, and infotainment interface all have the kind of elegant clarity that spells premium. Trim materials are likewise classy.

The front seats are shapely and supportive, and there’s room for two adults in the three-place rear seat. The 470-litre cargo area is 35L smaller than the X1’s.

BMW’s chassis engineers say the X2’s lower stance and shorter overhangs give it a dynamic head start compared to the X1. To ensure the newcomer is more agile, they added a little negative camber to the front suspension and specified stiffer springs and different dampers.

The X2 is quite agile … for a compact SUV. Its feel-free steering is quick and precise. But the firm suspension is borderline brutal over misaligned motorway slab joints and is bothersomely busy on poorly surfaced roads. Tyre noise can be tiresome on coarsechip surfaces too, and there was noticeable wind noise from the exterior rear-view mirrors.

BMW brought only the allwheel-drive xDrive 20d variant with the M Sport X package to the international launch in Portugal. Its 2.0-litre turbo-diesel and eight-speed auto delivers decent performance, but the front-drive sDrive 20i with 2.0-litre petrol engine and seven-speed dualclutch, will introduce the X2 to Australians in March.

It will wear a $55,900 price tag, a little over $2000 more capital than an X1 with the same drivetrain. … for a e steering the firm brutal

JOHN CAREY

X files

BMW is introducing its new M Sport X package as standard on the sDrive 20i. It’s all about the visuals, adding contrasting grey side sills and front and rear bumper inserts, 19-inch wheels and richer interior furnishings. A more subtle M Sport pack is also available as a no cost option and replaces the contrast plastics with body colour. For Oz, both grades receive a sports suspension that’s 10mm lower than standard. An xDrive 20d and turbo threecylinder sDrive 18i will arrive locally later this year.