First drive: BMW X2
BMW is no stranger to niche-filling, and the X2 is its latest attempt at offering every single kind of crossover SUV under the sun. We get behind the wheel to see if it can rival the Audi Q2
What is it?
In a bid to offer cars to every single buyer in every single market segment, BMW's launched the X2. It's a totally new model in the German brand's range and competes with cars such as the Jaguar E-Pace, Volvo XC40 and Audi Q2. That means a sleek (ish) and stylish coupe-like body atop an SUV platform pinched from BMW's own X1 and the Mini Countryman.
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Despite this being an ostensibly new model, there aren't quite as many brand-new bits as you might think. As mentioned, the chassis is shared with the X1 and Mini Countryman, while the interior is very similar to every other small BMW featuring the same switchgear and infotainment display.
The main changes are to the exterior styling, while purists will be disappointed to see another front-biased BMW entering the fray.
What's under the bonnet?
For now, you're limited to just a single engine – badged xDrive20d. That means a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
Performance is adequate, with 187bhp and 400Nm of torque, but the drivetrain feels less punchy than those figures suggest. As is generally the case, BMW's diesel engines aren't exactly characterful, but it's smooth, quiet and refined while returning low running costs.
Three more configurations will become available later in the year, and will bring a manual transmission, front-wheel drive and lower power outputs to the line-up.
What's it like to drive?
BMW describes the X2 as an SUV that drives like a hot hatchback. We can tell you now that that is rubbish – it's safe, predictable and capable, but far from fun.
Any hint of sportiness suggested by the looks is instantly banished when you put your foot down, with the engine not exactly protesting, but far from encouraging.
Things improve marginally in corners, with a lack of body roll and eager steering making for satisfying B-road blasts, but there's no feedback through the steering wheel.
Ignore the hot hatchback claims and things begin to make more sense, though, with a superb ride absorbing the bumps and potholes with ease – ideal for tough British tarmac.
How does it look?
The first thing that strikes you upon seeing the X2 is its size. In pictures, it looks like a compact SUV but in person it's more the size of a large hatchback. It's a handsome thing, too, with a new upside-down kidney grille and chunky bumpers. The rear is less successful, but we're big fans of the badge on the C-pillar – a nod to BMW models gone by.
What's it like inside?
Don't let the size fool you, though – the X2 is decently spacious inside. Front passengers may be fooled into thinking they're in a mid-sized SUV, while rear passengers benefit from decent legroom and only a small compromise due to the sloping roofline.
We tested high-spec M Sport models and found them to be typically BMW – high quality and well put together, if a little dark and dingy.
What's the spec like?
We weren't given the chance to poke around an entry-level model, but spec appears to be generous nonetheless – basic safety assistance systems, 17-inch alloy wheels and BMW's ConnectedDrive infotainment system including sat-nav, real-time traffic and various other services. Prices for this model start at just under £34,000.
Our M Sport model was loaded with kit for a £3,550 premium – 19-inch alloy wheels, leather and Alcantara upholstery, all-round LED lights and a sporty body kit all come as standard.
Happily, there's even a great range of colours. We're big fans of bright Misano Blue and Galvanic Gold.
The BMW X2 is, in many ways, an utterly predictable car. Unfortunately that makes it rather unexciting – it's safe, unflustered, and premium.
It's easy to become jaded by the constant influx of crossovers and SUVs, but the X2 is genuinely one that's worthy of your attention. It looks good, drives well and has a great interior. The Jaguar E-Pace ought to be very concerned.