BMW X2 xDrive20d M Sport X (2018) review: the least SUV-like SUV

Published: 04 February 2018

  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
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  • 3 out of 5
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  • 4 out of 5


► BMW X2 SUV driven
► Plugging the SUV gap
► Tested in xDrive20d spec

We’re obsessed with the Oddly Satisfying subreddit - specifically the posts where things fit perfectly into other things - coins that have fallen into exactly-sized recesses and vacuum cleaner heads that slot between two pieces of furniture with millimetric precision, that kind of thing.

Clearly whoever came up with the concept of the X2 is a fan too; here’s a car that fills a hitherto gaping hole in the X-line-up, sliding neatly into the range like a Coke bottle in a Pringles tube.

Munich now has a royal flush of crossovers and 4x4s running from X1 to X6, with plans for an X7 and X8 waiting in the wings. And it’s more than an exercise in numerical completeness, as we will now explain…


Yes – and as you’ve probably guessed from that tenuous intro, the frequency with which they are being launched is so great, we’re finding it hard to come up with original ways to break the news to you.

Thing is, while everyone seemingly wants a commanding driving position and the ability to bump up the kerb outside Nandos without touching the brakes, no-one seems able to agree on a single bodystyle. So we have small SUVs, tall SUVs, coupe SUVs, and small coupe SUVs like the X2.

Styling wise it’s a move away from the X4 and X6, looking more like a jacked up 1-Series hatchback than anything else. It’s also part of that hipster ranger of BMWs that prefer front- and all-wheel drive.

Who’s the BMW X2 for?

If we said the words front-wheel drive, five-door, four-cylinder SUV coupe, and asked you to guess the brand, you probably wouldn’t say BMW. You’d probably say Toyota. And that’s really the point – BMW doesn’t want you to buy a Toyota, it wants you to buy a BMW.

Specifically the X2 is aimed at younger buyers who would normally be seen in a Range Rover Evoque or Mercedes-Benz GLA – or, controversially, the platform-sharing MINI Countryman.

Like all even-numbered BMW X cars the X2 is a sportier version of the boxier number beneath it, so if the X1 looks too functional for you – here’s your car.

How’s it different?

For a start there’s a BMW roundel on the c-pillar, a styling cue that harks back to the 3.0 CSL and 2000 CS – plus there’s the sloping roof and thin window line and kidney grille that is wider at the base than the top.

It shares the same wheelbase and track as the X1, but sits seven centimetres lower and measures eight centimetres shorter thanks to its tiny overhangs.

That means it has a lower centre of gravity, plus a stiffer body with specific springs and dampers and greater negative camber on the front axle, all of which point at enhanced agility.

Does that mean the BMW X2 drives better than the X1?

Sure does – of particular note are the special preloaded bushings fitted to the X2’s rollbars – these tackle bodyroll and allow the dampers to be slackened for a better ride.

Regardless, the X2 is stiffer than the X1, and that’s whether you stick with the standard suspension or upgrade to the adaptive set up. Plus, M Sport cars get a further 10mm drop.

All of that means while the X2 is a little less edgy and direct than the MINI Countryman, it’s a sharp handler that feels very sure-footed and confidence inspiring in xDrive form, but not wholly exciting.

It resists understeer well and there’s just a small amount of well-controlled lean when you push on. Still, we had more fun on faster, more flowing corners than on the tighter sections.

The steering is as you’d expect from a BMW – offering a well-judged amount of heft through a large, wheel with bratwurst-thick padding. Accuracy is a strong point though there’s a fair bit of self-centring at work.

Four-cylinder engines only?

Indeed - powering our test car is the projected best-selling 20d diesel – offering up 187bhp at 4000rpm (after which it gets a bit breathy) and a wide spread of torque (295lbs ft of it) between 1500 and 3000rpm.

The standard eight-speed automatic gearbox extracts everything it can from this powerplant and reacts quickly to a tap of the steering wheel mounted paddles. BMW’s drive mode selector tightens things up but curiously there’s no Sport Plus mode; just Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport.

This engine matches the 20i petrol’s 0-62mph sprint with a 7.7 second effort, but this diesel offers another 10mpg. There’s a more powerful 25d model for European buyers that gets there a second quicker. That just leaves the entry 148bhp 18d version, which you can have with two- or all-wheel drive.

Will there be an MX2 or X2M or M240i or whatever?

BMW’s engineers have some of the best poker faces in the business and remained tight-lipped about a hot version despite us doing our best Jeremy Paxman meets Louis Theroux via a Newsround Press Packer act.

Until then there are four familiar trims called SE, Sport, M Sport and finally M Sport X –all cars get 17-inch alloys, climate control, an automatic bootlid, and sat-nav on a 6.5-inch screen. Further up the ranks are things like LED lights, bigger wheels and sports suspension, plus extensive off-road body cladding.

Our car was the top spec version and boasted big and supportive seats and a dashboard trimmed in a variety of squidgy, elephantine-patterned plastics and brightly coloured stitching.

Narrow windows mean restricted visibility out and back, particularly the chunky b-pillars and an obscured rear three quarters that necessitates the addition of a reversing camera, or at least use of the standard rear parking sensors.

Do the boot bit now…

I’ll rip this boring plaster off quickly - the boot is 35 litres smaller than the X1’s but larger than the current rear-driven 1-Series. Rear passenger space is hampered a bit by the sloping roof. Don’t bother putting passengers in the middle rear pew unless they’re inflatable.


Our car is nearly £35,000 which is enough to buy an all-wheel drive, automatic gearbox’d VW Golf R, which is faster and has a bigger boot. You could also have a BMW M140i, which has a six-pot motor and rear-wheel drive.

There’s little point being pragmatic though – the X2 is the latest in a line of emotionally marketed vehicles sold to people as part of a healthy, active lifestyle. Given that remit we’d recommend one over a GLA or Evoque.

It’s also fundamentally the least SUV-like SUV that BMW currently makes, so if you want a piece of that action without committing to something massive and boxy like an X5, then the X2 makes sense.


Price when new: £34,985
On sale in the UK: March 2018
Engine: 1995cc four-cyl turbocharged diesel, 147bhp @ 4000rpm, 295lb ft @ 1500-3000rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto, all-wheel drive
Performance: 7.7 sec 0-62mph, 137mph, 60.1mpg, 124g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1600kg/steel and aluminium
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4360/1824/1526mm

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By Adam Binnie

Contributor and new cars editor on our sister website