The challenge for vehicle manufacturers these days is to inject something unique into the endlessly profitable SUV lineups to attract and satisfy buyers’ insatiable appetites for the popular cargo carriers. Because right now, you better have a full-line of SUVs or wandering eyes will find another latest and greatest.
BMW is quickly ramping up their SUV menu with seven distinct variants, not counting the adjoining M Sport versions. The latest newborn is the exciting X2, sandwiched snuggly between the X1 and X3. Yes, the lines are getting niche, and it will continue as long as buyers are pickier with their spending dollars. The X2 is the slightly less practical but definitely friskier version of the X1. It’s lower, sleeker and possesses some new BMW DNA to lure those desiring some adrenaline when schlepping folks and stuff around.
The X2 is an eye-catching combo of sporty style. It sits on the BMW chassis shared by the X1 and Mini Cooper lines but doesn’t look like anything in the lineup. The unique “wedgie” coupe is rakish cool in Black Sapphire Metallic paint and tinted glass. The optional M Sport Package brings terrific 19-inch double-spoke wheels inside run-flat rubber; contrasting lower fascia and Shadowline Exterior trim around the windows. I’m digging the newish double grille and vent tweaks that give the nose a purposeful motif. The roofline is lower (happily, the roof rails are gone, adding to the sleekness), the flanks slightly concaved with three indents underneath the doors and a tidy rear complete with lovely real dual chrome exhausts. Standard LED headlights are excellent. BMW roundels are added to the rear C-panels. It took a moment to adjust, but looked more appealing at every glance. Overall, it’s the striking, slightly devious sibling to the X1.
The X2 xDrive28i gets a stiffer body and suspension, lower center of gravity and lighter curb weight than the X1, which provides a sharper, more engaging driving experience. It doesn’t feel jumpy and handles imperfect asphalt well. A spirited 2.0 litre TwinPower Turbo inline 4-banger begs to be driven in Sport mode (I happily obliged). It’s quick enough (0-60 in 6.3 seconds) and the paddle shifters provide seamless changes through the eight gears. Its 228 horses and 258 lb.-ft. of torque are more engaging than the numbers. It’s really a fun chariot when pushed.
A rocker switch on the center console allows you to choose ECO-Pro, Comfort and Sport modes to deliver noticeable changes in steering feel and throttle response. The M Sport suspension tightens the handling without beating up you or the passengers. The xDrive is all-wheel drive and performs well in inclement weather (front wheel is also available). I wouldn’t get too off-road adventuresome as the lowered frame has only 7.2 inches of ground clearance. However, hitting the curves in exuberant fashion is consistently rewarded. Me likee. Fuel efficiency is good at 21/31. I squeezed about 25 mpg in decidedly sporty driving. Premium fuel is recommended.
While the driving dynamics are BMW great, the interior is equally familiar with a few new wrinkles. Fit and finish are excellent. Cabin room is ample enough for this size vehicle. The MSportX packages include a double-pane panoramic moonroof, 10-way power front seats and attractive Aluminum Hexagon Trim that accents well with the Black Dakota leather and contrasting stitching. There’s nice room for knickknacks in the center console and a charger for your smartphone. The heated seats are supportive with two seat memory settings. Lumbar adjustments make for a comfy ride no matter the distance. A new surprise is the gearshift that isn’t the normal joystick variety, but a typical stalk that might be more intuitive for a new BMW client. A meaty MSport heated steering wheel comes with the MSportX package with the button on the driver column’s left side next to the tilt steering wheel lever. Headroom is generous in front, and I fit in comfortably in the rear. An 8.5-inch touchscreen is exceptionally clear and easy to read. I love the crisp fonts. The ever-improving iDrive control is one of the best in the biz. The RearView camera is HD quality and the Head-Up display shows speed and NAV direction through the windshield. Every car should offer them. Opt for a front view camera as the sloping hood disappears from driving view.
Sight lines are decent – even with the narrow rear window – thanks to the generous side view mirrors. Cargo room is a tad smaller than the X1 (21.6 vs. 27.1 cu.ft. with the seats up) and a decent 50.1 when folded down. The rear shelf sits a bit higher, yet loading is easy on the back. You will need to drop the rear seats to get more than one golf bag in the back.
The X2 offers a nice array of tech for the money. A standard audio system is pretty good and Bluetooth streaming is superb. Pandora and Spotify apps are easy to use. BMW Remote Services allows you to tap apps like Find My Car, Google search and Remote Locking via your smartphone. It’s the wave of the future and works impeccably.
The 2018 X2 xDrive28i is a compelling package for upwardly mobile millennials or empty nesters wanting the exquisite Ultimate Driving Experience, edgy exterior, luxury appointments, high safety scores and cargo capability. The price is attractive too, given the BMW DNA. Add in the zero maintenance costs for oil, air filters, spark plugs and brake fluid to make it a must drive when contemplating your next sporty SUV to separate yourself from a crowded pack.
Golf bags: 2+ with rear seats down
Curbside appeal: Deliciously unique and eye-catching for BMW lovers
0-60: 6.1 seconds
Ponies/torque: 228/258 lb.-ft.
Gas mileage: 21/31. Observed 25 overall
Must-haves: M SportX Package
Warranty: 4-year/50,000 miles
Base price: $38,400
Price as tested: $49,100
Who buys it? Those desiring decidedly sporty run when toting folks and cargo
Finish line: A new sporty contender in a crowded category
Test-drive the 2018 X2 xDrive28i at Classic BMW in Plano.