Be the one who dares. This is the marketing slogan behind the 2018 BMW X2 and it certainly causes some pause for thought.
Back in about 1998 a young Mike Whitney was telling television viewers that who dares wins, while by late 2008 a daring BMW had proven all the naysayers wrong by attracting many buyers to the X6 and its ‘coupe SUV’ style that most said would fail.
It has taken a further decade or so for that style to trickle down to the smallest premium SUV segment, and one look at the squat proportions and angry face of this X2 is enough to ram home the fact that the small coupe-SUV has arrived.
BMW has dared to go there again, then, but should buyers as well?
Price: $55,900 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 141kW/280Nm 2.0 4cyl turbo petrol | 7sp dual-clutch automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 6.0 l/100km | tested: 8.5 l/100km
Although nominally based on the family friendly BMW X1, the X2 appears shorter yet wider. It also appears fatter in terms of its list price, to the tune of $2300 in the case of this $55,900 plus on-road costs X2 sDrive20i petrol that sits above the $49,900 (plus orc) X2 sDrive18i petrol, but below the $59,900 (plus orc) X2 xDrive20d diesel.
While that surcharge is primarily a price paid for increased style, however, it also reinforces how little standard equipment a buyer scores for now more than $55K.
Sure, 19-inch alloy wheels, an M Sport bodykit, LED headlights with adaptive-automatic high-beam, an electric tailgate, Alcantara-trimmed sports seats, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, a digital radio and satellite navigation are standard.
Astonishingly, however, keyless auto-entry is optional, and with only a small 6.5-inch infotainment screen included, a more competitive 8.8-inch screen costs extra as well. And there are further options such as Apple CarPlay, wireless smartphone charging and electrically adjustable seats that really should be standard – see the list below.
- Standard Equipment: Cruise control, power windows and mirrors, multi-function trip computer, dual-zone climate control air conditioning, automatic on/off headlights and wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and electric tailgate.
- Infotainment: 8.8-inch touchscreen with USB/AUX input, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, Spotify/news/weather/Google app connectivity, digital radio, satellite navigation with traffic reports, and speed-sign detection.
- Options Fitted: Launch Package ($4000 – panoramic sunroof, head-up display, wireless phone charging, 8.8-inch screen), Comfort Package ($2700 – keyless auto-entry with push-button start and electrically adjustable front seats with memory and heating), and adaptive suspension ($400).
- Cargo Volume: 470 litres
Add the above options and this X2 sDrive20i comes to $63,000 (plus orc), or $5000 more than a Mini Countryman JCW with which it shares underpinnings (as BMW owns Mini). It also asks $2300 more than a Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4MATIC, and both rivals happen to be near-identically equipped, much faster and they offer standard all-wheel drive (versus front-wheel drive here).
Even at this pricetag the as-tested X2 is still missing adaptive cruise control (it’s another $700) that is included in the Mini and Benz, while leather seats (standard on the latter) costs $1950 extra.
At least the BMW X2 is otherwise given more room to impress inside, though – literally, as it barely sacrifices interior room for its extra exterior style.
On the outside the sDrive20i may look squat and low, but from any position the cabin feels surprisingly airy and the firm but brilliantly snug and supportive sports seats rate as the clear highlight.
More of a lowlight, though, is the cheap plastics on the console and doors up front, which betray the soft-touch dashboard plastics and high-resolution (optional) screen – the latter of which uses BMW’s superb iDrive6 software that works a treat.
By contrast, though, the up-front positive and negative attributes swap over in the rear. That’s because the back bench retains the firm form of the front buckets, but it misses their side support, leaving passengers perched in a hard place. Yet lower down there’s standard air vents and plenty of legroom and toe space. Despite the coupe-esque roofline and (optional) sunroof there’s excellent headroom as well.
While the back bench doesn’t slide like it does in its Countryman JCW cousin, the X2 does share its clever and spacious boot. The 470-litre luggage volume is impressive for a small SUV, being around 25 per cent larger than that of a Volkswagen Golf GTI.
It isn’t the most usable space, however, given the split floor can only be removed and not lowered (as it can in a Golf). The result is a choice of small and shallow main boot with cavity underneath, or an enormous single boot area with a lumpy floor.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 141kW/280Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, FWD
- Suspension: Strut front, independent rear
- Brake: Ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes
- Steering: Electrically assisted mechanical steering
Powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine producing 141kW of power from 5000rpm until 6000rpm, and 280Nm of torque developed from 1350rpm until 4600rpm, the X2 sDrive20i near-mirrors the outputs of a decade-old Golf GTI.
This BMW drives only the front wheels, too, although it does so via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission versus the six-speed Volkswagen. Despite that, this small SUV weighs 1460kg or about 100kg more than that old hot hatchback.
The point of comparing this new model to an old hot hatch is because that’s how the sDrive20i feels on the road. It feels peppy, but also dated given the lofty pricetag.
BMW claims 7.7-second 0-100km/h acceleration, which even compared with the Mini Countryman JCW (6.6sec) and Mercedes-Benz GLA250 (7.1sec) is uncompetitive. That’s because the former makes 170kW/350Nm and the latter makes 155kW/350Nm from identically sized engines.
In a straight line the X2 sDrive20i feels brisk, and the engine revs sweetly to redline. Quickly ask for a burst of acceleration, however, and the seven-speed can pause before delivering the right gear, in concert with a 2.0-litre that also takes a gasp prior to making meaningful progress.
The result is steep urban fuel consumption of 10.0 litres per 100 kilometres on test, which only lowered to 8.5L/100km – and closer to its 6.0L/100km combined-cycle consumption claim – after extensive outer-urban driving.
Yet around town is where this BMW feels most at home. The steering is sharp and immediate, while the (optional) adaptive suspension deftly isolates occupants from lumps and bumps at low speed. Teamed with 19-inch tyres, and the X2 feels very agile and indeed sporty.
Raise the pace, however, and some issues arise as well. The steering may be immediate, but it’s also inconsistent in response – it feels weighty when making a lane-change, yet all weight disappears when returning the wheel to the centre.
And the suspension in Comfort mode permits the body to enter a series of short, sharp vertical-pitching motions on all but ice-rink-smooth surfaces. Switch to the alternate Dynamic mode, and it simply feels too fidgety.
There’s also constant (and a high level of) road noise noted while heading towards twisty roads, where the sDrive20i only continues to feel agile but only up to a point.
The 225mm-wide tyres are narrow but also of a relatively low profile and wide diameter, a combination that feels more like pizza-cutters than sturdy footwear and contributes to wooden rather than measured responses front and rear.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars – the BMW X2 scored 34.5 out of 389 possible points when tested by ANCAP in 2015.
Safety features: Six airbags including dual-front, front-side and curtain protection, ABS, ESC, pre-collision and pedestrian warning, lane departure warning, low-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB), front and rear parking sensors, and rear-view camera.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited km
Servicing: Condition-based servicing (CBS) costs $1395 over five years or 80,000km, which is competitive for the premium segment.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The Q2 is smaller and more affordable, but it likewise has an extensive options list. The GLA250 is speedier and more dynamic, plus its higher starting price is more than offset by its equipment and driveability. The same is true for the Countryman JCW, which shows up its BMW near-twin for value and performance.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
With a combination of taut design and terrific packaging, the BMW X2 succeeds in mixing style with space, and pragmatism with prowess in the urban jungle.
In isolation its engine and transmission are impressive, but they ultimately feel like they would fit a $50K X2 model grade rather than this $56K sDrive20i. The same is true for the roomy interior, which doesn’t stand out for quality or equipment.
Meanwhile no amount of money can resolve this BMW’s road noise, steering and ride comfort issues, all which betray its enjoyable and agile around-town dynamics.
It’s a trend that threads through multiple facets of this trendsetter, which should be more polished and feel more premium given its pricetag. For buyers, we dare say bargain hard or look elsewhere.
- Interested in buying BMW X2? Visit our BMW showroom for more information.