BMW has filled another SUV niche with the arrival of its ‘sports activity coupe’ X2, slotting in above the regular X1 small SUV
On the road
On the road
A Sports Activity Coupe. That’s how BMW describes the new X2, the sixth car to enter its family of X models, and one that sits as a sportier and more aggressively styled sibling to the X1 baby SUV that it broadly shares dimensions with.
Compared with the X1, the X2 is 21mm longer, 38mm wider but 86mm lower. Those figure translate into the X2 being a much more squat and sporty looking SUV. In fact, it almost finds another niche between regular hatchbacks and actual SUVs with their higher driving position and more imposing tall look. It’s most noticeable at the rear, where the car is visually very different from the X1; more angled and butch.
1. A minor point, but unlike most other BMWs, the audio shuts off when you open the door, not when you are out and have locked the car. Better, but stopping what you’re listening to when you switch off the engine would still be preferable.
2. The 19-inch alloys that come as standard on M Sport trim are lovely, but look about as kerbable as alloys come.
3. There’s a suspicion that the X2 looks better in the metal than in the pictures.
The X2 has a pretty simple line-up from launch. There’s one petrol engine – a 192hp 20i that comes only in front-wheel drive, seven-speed automatic form. The 150hp 18d engine comes in manual or automatic as a front-drive model, or with four-wheel drive and a manual gearbox. The top-spec diesel driven here is the 190hp 20d, which comes solely as an all-wheel drive eight-speed automatic.
All the engines are available with all four of the trim levels, which run from SE to Sport, M Sport and M Sport X. As with every BMW, satnav is standard, and the SE also enjoys dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, a powered tailgate and BMW’s remote connected services. The £1550 step to Sport increases the alloy size, and adds sport front seats, LED headlamps, the rather pleasing ambient LED interior lighting and other enhancements. Another £2000 gets to the popular M Sport trim of our test vehicle, including larger alloys, the aero styling, rear spoiler and other M Sport visual adornments and heated front seats. From there, it’s a very achievable and tempting £800 step to the M Sport X top level, which includes leather interior that on its own is £800, as well as aluminium roof rails and exterior styling and interior trim upgrades.
It is easy to add some pretty significant sums in option pricing on to what is already not a cheap car, and safety kit in particular is lacking. For example, a Volvo XC40 has autonomous emergency braking, run-off road mitigation and protection, lane keeping aid and other safety systems. None of these is present on the BMW without speccing the £790 Driver Assistant pack that adds city-collision mitigation, forward-collision warning, high-beam assistant, lane-departure warning and speed-limit indication. It’s a good-value pack, because it also adds park assist and front parking sensors – the latter being something that Jaguar and Audi gives as standard. Nevertheless, it’s a shame drivers or companies have to make the decision to pay extra for safety kit, because not many will. It also harms the insurance group to not be fitted as standard – the X2’s group is two higher than those of its Jag and Volvo rivals, and three above the Audi Q3.
The seating position is noticeably lower in the X2, compared with those in more upright SUVs; that 86mm lower height translates into something that feels, as it looks, like a halfway house between a hatchback and SUV. But it still feels higher than regular cars in terms of driving position, and the dimensions still make for a practical family car.
There’s plenty of room for four adults, a handy Isofix point in the front seat that not many brands think to offer, and rear passengers will find plenty of legroom and decent headroom despite the gently sloping roofline. Boot space is also very good; at 470 litres it beats the Audi Q3 and Volvo XC40, and only loses out on paper to the Jaguar E-Pace because Jaguar Land Rover insists on publishing figures to the roof rather than the parcel shelf, making comparison tricky. Visually, the X2 has the larger and more useful boot space, even if the load entry beneath the parcel shelf is a touch narrow, and there’s nothing clever offered boot-wise, such as a movable floor.
BMW’s 190hp diesel engine has long been recognised as an excellent unit, and even though it’s not the youngest of powerplants, it still offers refined and punchy progress, and feels well mated to an eight-speed automatic that is difficult to fluster. All cars get the Drive Performance Control system with Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport modes. The Eco Pro setting does slightly inhibit power, as might be expected, and Comfort is, predictably, the best all-rounder. Sport firms things up slightly from a ride point of view. However, the car handles so well in Comfort mode, with sharp steering and composed body control, that there’s not really any need to be playing with the settings too much. That said, the X2 does seem to tramline a surprising amount, dropping into ruts on the road with the feel of a car steering itself.
The X2 gets a taste of BMW’s prowess with connectivity, with the ConnectedDrive services standard on all cars including navigation, real-time traffic information, online services and the remote services that include the ability to perform online Google searches, lock and unlock the car via the app and check its location. The BMW Connected app also adds useful features such as continuing the navigation on foot via a smartphone or watch, notifications of recommended leaving times in order to make it to a destination on time and learned destination suggestions.
Whether to go for an X2 over an X1 is a decision based on personal finances and personal taste.
In this 20d xDrive M Sport trim level, there’s a £1280 gap in favour of the more practical X1, which offers an additional 35 litres of boot space, as well as being two insurance groups lower. Residuals are better on the X2 by 2.0 percentage points, according to Kee Resources, all of which adds up to a 1.1p per mile difference in favour of the X1. Monthly BIK bills are an extra £13 per month on the X2 for a higher-rate taxpayer, thanks to its higher P11D.
Against its rivals, the X2 stacks up pretty well. The E-Pace and XC40 are core rivals in terms of more sporty styling and direction, while the Audi Q3 is more of a rival for the X1, but warrants inclusion against the X2 because its cheaper price counters the less-sporty styling. The Jaguar has very high predicted residual values, but its 147g/km emissions are a big issue in this company, so the BMW beats it for overall cost per mile, while the Q3’s lower residual values reflect its status as the elder statesman of this group against three models all launched in the past six months; residuals are the main reason the BMW has a better cost per mile figure than the Q3. But the excellent Volvo XC40 beats all of them, thanks to RVs second only to the Jag and emissions second to the BMW, as well as a very competitive price. It’s also well specced, especially for duty-of-care-fulfilling safety equipment.
The X2 almost feels like the car the X1 should have been all along. It’s got a characterful and likeably muscular design, it handles and drives at least as well as anything in the sector and is practical enough for everyday family life despite its fairly compact dimensions.
To be hyper-critical, it isn’t kitted out and doesn’t feel quite as premium as a £37,000 car should do, but against its basket of key rivals in the sector, it makes for a choice that’s justifiable both emotionally and rationally. Even if it’s debatable whether Sports Activity Coupe is an actual sector.
The X2 is BMW’s sixth ‘X’ branded model line in a heritage that dates back to 1999 when the first X5 was launched – a car heading for its fourth generation of model late this year.
Next came the X3 in 2004, then a five-year gap to the X6, a coupe-crossover. The X1 was launched in 2010, and the second-generation of that car appeared in 2016.
In 2015, the X4 arrived, again combining the X3’s size with the Sports Activity Coupe styling to produce a more sporty mainstream SUV, and the second-iteration of X4 follows a few weeks behind this new X2.
The X2 takes the so-called Sports Activity Coupe styling of the large X4 and X6 and applies it to the smallest car in the X line-up, the X1.
In its first full year, BMW is expecting to sell around 6000 X2s, which compares with well over 14,000 X1s in 2017, and more than 8500 of the larger X3 model.
BMW is also planning a new range-topper for its SUV line-up, a car that been previewed in concept form. The production version of the new X7 (pictured in pre-production testing) is scheduled to be launched in the UK later this year.
What they said
What They Said
BMW were unable to provide comment due to the departure of their General Manager, Corporate Sales.
Need to know
Three things we like...
The low rear end gives the X2 a squat and aggressive stance
The interior lighting adds a classy after-dark touch
The nav screen is clear and the system is simple to use
...And one we don't
The eye-watering Magma Red (very orange!) leather isn’t a great way to spend £800
The X2 is a well-sorted SUV that doesn’t handle like a higher-riding car, and has an excellent 2.0-litre diesel engine.
BMW’s little SUV-coupe is well ahead of rivals for emissions, which helps to make for an attractive BIK figure.
Decent boot space (ignoring the Jag’s artificially high figure), and there’s plenty of space to carry four adults. Stowage is good, too.
Most of what you’d expect is present, although it has nowhere near the safety kit you’ll find on the Volvo for instance, and some equipment drivers may want is bundled into four-figure packs.
Squat and aggressive, the X2 has its own style, while still clearly being part of BMW’s SUV family.
Comfort and refinement 8/10
Decent refinement from the excellent 2.0-litre diesel, and ride quality is good enough for a sporty SUV.
Everything is nicely done in a very familiar BMW way, but there’s maybe not the individuality the X2 exhibits on the outside.
It’s a shame there’s no Apple CarPlay as standard on such a pricey small SUV, but otherwise the system is logical and easy.
Whole life costs 7/10
High service, maintenance and repair and insurance costs eat into the X2’s efficiency advantage, not helped by a fairly high P11D price.
CCT opinion 8/10
More characterful that maybe was expected, the X2 is a good addition for BMW.
Another niche successfully filled by BMW. The X2 brings practicality and sporty SUV styling, along with BMW’s regular handling prowess and fun driving experience.