17 Apr 2019

BMW X2 M35i 2019 Wagon Review

Road test: BMW X2 M35i
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When you’re on a good thing, stick to it.

BMW prided itself for decades on building the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ but in recent years has changed its tune to ‘Efficient Dynamics’ as the world began to make the shift towards lower emissions vehicles over sportier ones. The Bavarian brand also put more time and effort into SUVs, because that’s what we want to buy these days, but it came at the expense of that ultimate machine for the driver.

Now though, it has began to return to its roots while still embracing the trend for high-riding models with this all-new model - the X2 M35i. And it’s a better car because it fully embraces BMW’s ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ ethos.

Whereas the other models in the range - sDrive18i, sDrive20i and xDrive20d - feel like less practical versions of the X1, the M35i is a more complete package because it is so overtly sporty.

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Is the BMW X2 M35i right for me?

If you can’t decide between a hot hatch and an SUV then this is what you’ve been waiting for.

The X2 sits in a niche created by BMW’s need to offer more and more SUVs, squeezing between the more practical X1 and larger X3. It’s built on the same underpinnings as the X1 but is dressed in sleeker, more stylish bodywork.

Now with the arrival of the M35i it has more punch under the bonnet to better match its sporty exterior looks.

What does the 2019 BMW X2 M35i cost?

It may be small in size but this sort of premium performance doesn’t come cheap, starting at $68,900 (plus on-road costs). The X2 M35i may be a niche model but in today’s highly diverse new car market there are some direct competitors, most obviously the Jaguar E-Pace P300 SE which is priced from $68,831 (plus on-roads). The Audi Q2 2.0 TFSI quattro and Volvo XC40 R-Design are similar in size and cheaper, but neither is as sharp dynamically as the M35i.

What is the BMW X2 M35i's interior like?

BMW’s decision to fit an M Sport package to the 20i models in the range does detract slightly from what makes the M35i special, as the two look very similar. The good news is they both look sporty and premium, with plenty of leather, Alcantara and (as a no-cost option in our test car) aluminium trim.

What are unique to the M35i are the sports seats, which are trimmed in dark Alcantara with contrasting blue stitching and a blue material pattern down the centre. The other bespoke interior element are the sill panels that come with large ‘M35i’ written on them.

The part of the X2 interior that is worth noting is the seating position. Unlike conventional high-riding SUVs that have high-set seats for a commanding view down the road, the X2’s front chairs are positioned a lot lower. That means a sportier, more car-like feeling which will appeal to some (while others may rue losing the better view).

How mcuh space does the BMW X2 M35i Wagon have?

Because the X2 is based on BMW’s new front-wheel drive underpinnings, the designers and engineers were able to liberate more cabin space over a conventional rear-wheel drive package.

That translates to a roomy front (there’s loads of kneeroom because of the combination of low seats and high dashboard) and generous space in the rear for such a compact SUV.

What's the BMW X2 M35i's tech like?

One of the major non-performance upgrades for the M35i is the sound system. The standard six-speaker, 100W system is replaced by a 360W, 12-speaker Harman/Kardon set-up. It’s a powerful system with good clarity that really sounds like a step up, even by premium car standards.

It’s controlled via BMW’s iDrive system which copped a lot of flak in its early days but has been developed into one of the more intuitive infotainment systems to use. There’s now a rotary dial and voice commands, as well as menu buttons to make it easy to operate even on the move.

How reliable is the 2019 BMW X2 M35i?

The X2 is based on BMW’s ‘UKL’ platform which is the same starting point for the X1, 2-Series Active Tourer and current Mini range, so the company has plenty of experience with it. It’s a solid, well-built small SUV as you’d expect from the German luxury giant.

How safe is the BMW X2 M35i?

The M35i doesn’t have any unique safety features over the other X2 models apart from the M Sport-spec brakes. It comes equipped with BMW’s Driving Assistant package that includes autonomous emergency braking (that slows the car but won’t bring it to a complete halt), lane departure warning and speed limit information.

What is the BMW X2 M35i's warranty like?

It’s covered by BMW’s standard three-year/100,000km warranty, which is still typical in the premium market despite most mainstream brands now offering five-year/unlimited kilometres of coverage.

What are the on-going costs for the BMW X2 M35i wagon?

BMW offers what it calls ‘Condition Based Servicing’ that uses the car’s sensors and an algorithm to monitor what requires maintenance.

You can pay for all the servicing up front by buying one of the two BMW Service Inclusive packages - either Basic or Plus. The former costs $1395 and the latter $4150; the extra cost includes replacing consumables like brake rotors and pads and wiper blades.

Is the 2019 BMW X2 M35i value for money?

On the face of it, $70k for a compact SUV is a lot of money. But the X2 M35i isn’t an ordinary vehicle, as it has BMW build quality and performance. It’s also well equipped for the money thanks to increased competition within the luxury market, not only from Mercedes-Benz and Audi, but also the likes of Lexus, Volvo and Jaguar, the premium brands can no longer offer poorly specified models with lengthy (and expensive) option lists.

What's under the BMW X2 M35i's bonnet?

This is where the M35i really gets interesting, because instead of an efficient and sensible engine like the rest of the range it gets a high-performance powerplant.

It’s still a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol unit but it’s been pushed to pump out 225kW of power and 450Nm of torque - which comfortably out-guns its competition (the Jaguar E-Pace P300 makes 221kW/400Nm).

BMW has mated it to an eight-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel drive system, plus the M35i gets an M Sport differential with front mechanical limited slip diff.

The result is a cracking powertrain that gives the X2 a real fizz to its driving character. Even in the Normal driving setting you can feel it has more urgency than the 20i, but dial up Sport and the engine barks and the exhaust pops and crackles. Plus there’s more immediate response from the engine and the transmission is more proactive too, so you only need the slightest movement of your right foot and the M35i is ready for action.

It pulls strong and consistently across the rev range and thanks to the all-wheel drive system and diffs it never has any problems transmitting so much grunt to the road.

How much fuel does the BMW X2 M35i Wagon use?

The claimed combined cycle use of 7.4-litres per 100km is on the high side for a compact SUV, but perfectly acceptable for such a high-performance one.

What's it like to drive the BMW X2 M35i?

Just like the engine the suspension and steering has been given an upgrade by the boffins at M Sport. That means the M35i feels tauter and more responsive than the rest of the range, with more immediacy whenever you turn the wheel.

Combined with the low-set seating position the X2 really does feel like a hot hatch - agile, aggressive and fun. You can really push the M35i hard and it stays planted and stable when cornering. The Pirelli P-Zero tyres provide excellent grip and the all-wheel drive traction allows you to really rocket out of corners.

The trade-off is ride quality. M Sport-tuned suspension paired with 20-inch wheels and narrow sidewall of the Pirellis makes for a busy ride as it feels like it picks up even ripple in the road surface. Big bumps are dealt with surprisingly well, the initial hit is firm but the suspension quickly settles.

For those looking for a stylish city SUV you’re better off with an 20i, but if you want something more engaging then this is for you.

How does the 2019 BMW X2 M35i compare to the competition?

The Jaguar E-Pace is the most direct rival in terms of performance and price, but it can’t match the X2 dynamically or in style. Neither can the Audi Q2 2.0 TFSI quattro, Volvo XC40 R-Design and Lexus UX250h F-Sport; although all are excellent SUVs in their own right.

Perhaps the closest in terms of dynamic ability and badge credibility is the new Porsche Macan, which starts at $81,400 (plus on-roads) for the 2.0-litre version, which only makes 185kW and 370Nm but is an engaging drive.

TMR's verdict:

The X2 M35i represents both BMW old and new. It proves the company hasn’t forgotten about building the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’, and instead shows that it can transfer that character into the modern SUV bodystyle.

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