If there was ever a company capable of finding a niche within a niche, and turning it into a gold mine, it’s BMW. Welcome to the BMW X2 – actually a more obvious car than you might think, being ultimately a sportier-looking and driving version of the BMW X1. Offered in front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive variants, it takes on rivals like the Mercedes GLA, Audi Q3, Jaguar E-Pace, Range Rover Evoque and Volvo XC40 in the posh-but-small sports-SUV stakes.
Body Style: 5 door SUV
MRP from £29,990-£38,330
Did you know? The X2 is the first BMW X model to feature the BMW roundel on its rear pillar
The BMW X2 is resolutely fit for purpose. It’s got top-notch infotainment (even as standard), an interior that’ll cater well enough to a small family yet feels posh enough to impress your mates, and it drives with a sense of purpose that’ll satisfy the side of you that wants to feel like a hero on a fast open road. However, it’s not the last word in dynamic flair, ride comfort is quite questionable on M Sport models, and it’s not cheap, either.
Classy, expensive-feeling interior
Decent space and practicality
Incisive, predictable handling
We Don't Like
PCP finance is expensive
Ride comfort is firm
Optional M Sports steering is odd
The BMW X2 might be based on the X1 but the only exterior parts that it shares with its cheaper and more versatile but less sporty sibling – which is 2cm longer and 7cm taller than the X2 - is its door handles and shark-fin aerial. It’s a fairly distinctive-looking thing helped by the swoopy roofline, streamlined head- and tail-lights, and stark features like the kidney grille – inverted so that it’s broader at the bottom than the top for the first time ever – and the triangular air intakes that fill the corners of the front bumper.
That BMW roundel on the rear pillar is also something of a controversial addition, and this is the first time it’s appeared on an X model (historically this is a style cue that’s reserved for BMW’s halo sports cars).
Entry-level SE cars get 17-inch alloys, gloss black grille with chrome surround, while Sport steps up with 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and foglights. M Sport will likely be the pick of the range for most, as it brings some brighter colours to choose from, as well as more aggressive styling courtesy of the M Sport bodykit, unique M Sport 19-inch alloys, and 10mm lowered ride height.
M Sport X - pictured here - brings its own styling pack, with Frozen Grey contrasting inserts on the bumpers and around the wheelarches, as well as roof rails and 19-inch wheels.
The X2 looks pretty great inside. Even entry-level models get contrast stitching on the dash top, although Sport trim adds quite a bit to the overall ambience with mood lighting, gloss black fascia for the centre console, sports seats and more of that contrast stitching.
Everything on the dash is pretty easy to use and see from the driver’s seat in the X2. Most of your interaction with the car will be done through the high-set 6.5in touchscreen, but the digital dials also offer up plenty of easy-to-read info.
We drove an M Sport car with optional £650 electric seat adjustment, which gets supportive and comfortable seats, although it’s worth going a fraction further and adding the £740 Comfort Pack instead as that includes adjustable lumbar support, which the standalone electric seat option doesn’t. Manual adjustment can be a faff in BMWs, so it’s well worth adding.
The M Sport steering wheel (standard on M Sport or M Sport X trims) looks lovely, too and feels really great to use.
Visibility is a low point in the X2. The narrow rear window and wide pillars make for sizeable blind spots, and even forward visibility is mediocre thanks to the very raked-back pillars, but then again a Merc GLA is no better on this front, even if an Audi Q3 is.
There’s plenty of room in the X2 for four tall adults to lounge about in comfort, and with a good-sized boot that has underfloor storage, and a 40/20/40 split rear bench that fold flat easily, it’s also fairly versatile. There’s certainly loads more room in here than in an Audi Q3, Range Rover Evoque or Mercedes GLA.
The only gripes are that the boot’s load lip is quite high so loading a hulking great buggy or a load of sports paraphernalia could be a pain. Also, it’s quite easy to smack your head on the front pillar as you get out of the X2, and then to smack your head again if you’ve got to bend into the rear seats to deal with child seats. Which would get very tiresome after a while.
Ultimately, if space and versatility are priorities and you’re wedded to the idea of a small SUV, you’d be well advised to sacrifice a bit of the X2’s kerbside appeal and go for the X1 instead.
BMW is keen to appeal to a younger-than-usual audience with the X2 and so there’s real emphasis on the connectivity. Every model gets the 6.5-inch colour touchscreen complete with sat-nav, DAB, CD player, Bluetooth handsfree and audio streaming, and online functionality assuming that you’ve got an appropriate phone connection. You can control it by prodding the screen, obviously, which responds quickly and is the easiest way to zoom in or out of the map screen, but we prefer to use the rotary iDrive controller if you’re hopping through the menus while driving as it means you don’t have to focus so hard on the screen to make sure you hit the correct icon.
However you look at it, this is the best infotainment system in this class for its user-friendly interface.
Also included on every X2 is a 12 month subscription to BMW Connected+, which uses an App service that allows you to do all kinds of cool stuff, including pre-loading a journey on your sat-nav from your phone, allowing friends or family to track your car via a live tracking service, and checking on your car’s status – whether it’s locked, where it’s parked etc. It’ll even work with Amazon Echo so that you can just ask Alexa to lock the car for you.
Most buyers will choose to add the £1260 Tech Pack, which brings the wider 8-inch touchscreen shown in these pictures, an excellent head-up display (well worth paying for), the car’s own wi-fi hotspot, voice control of the system and wireless phone charging.
At launch the BMW X2 is only available with the 187bhp 2.0-litre ‘20d’ diesel engine, which comes as standard with an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Very good it is, too. The engine feels properly gutsy and is smooth enough if a quite noisy when you rev it out, and the gearbox changes ratios slickly and at the right moment. Throttle travel is quite long and spongey, though, which doesn't encourage a sense of purpose in the X2, more a sense that you should sit bit and relax. At least you can paddle your way to a greater sense of driver involvement via the wheel-mounted paddles.
A lower powered 18d version of the same engine will join the lineup imminently with the same automatic ‘box, and should be first stop for consideration for company car buyers as it’s available with front- or four-wheel drive (unlike the four-wheel drive only 20d) so offers usefully lower emissions and tax bills.
A 2.0-litre 20i petrol is also due to arrive, oddly with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic instead of the diesels’ 8-speed torque converter, and a more potent 25d diesel and 25i petrol are on the cards for 2019. We’d be surprised if a hybrid version of the X2 doesn’t materialise, as well. We’ll update this review with impressions of the other engines as soon as we can.
BMW would do well to add a lower-powered petrol variant given increasing demand for efficient petrols, and given that rivals like the Mercedes GLA and Audi Q3 both offer less expensive, smaller capacity petrol models.
Handling and comfort
X2 models badged sDrive are front-wheel drive, and those badged xDrive have an on-demand four-wheel drive system that means they’ll sling drive to the rear wheels if the sensors detect any slip.
We drove the 20d xDrive M Sport complete with optional £150 adaptive dampers and M Sport steering (£220), both of which are only offered on M Sport trims. The steering is a bit disappointing. It feels overly nervous when you first start turning the wheel – even in default Comfort mode, when it’s also quite light - and then it never weights up as much as you’d like to give you confidence when the car is cornering. You do get used to it, but while we’ll have to wait and try a car without the optional M Sport steering to say for sure whether the X2 is better without, we’d leave that box unticked.
Ultimately, the X2 does have an edge of sportiness to it. Particularly in Sport mode, it’ll dive into a bend with real gusto and – on those adaptive dampers – it controls its body movement really well and feels a bit like a hefty, neutral hot hatch.
What is a bit questionable on the X2 is its ride comfort – in the M Sport car on 19-inch tyres that we tested, at least. SE and Sport trims have softer suspension, while M Sport and M Sport X models get stiffer and 10mm lowered suspension as well as bigger 18- or 19-inch wheels. You can deselect M Sport suspension in favour of the softer setup at no extra cost on the M Sport and M Sport X trims, or add those adaptive dampers.
Even with the adaptive dampers, our test car bobbled about over uneven and pitted roads, and thumped quite harshly over expansion joints, manhole covers and the like. It does settle nicely at higher speeds on smoother Tarmac, and in Comfort mode it’s unlikely that anybody after a sporting SUV is going to be all that bothered by the choppy ride comfort.
Again, we’ll have to try some other variants of the X2 in the UK to give you a definitive line on what the best suspension option is, but on this evidence the £150 adaptive dampers are an absolute essential on M Sport cars, and try to stick to avoid the run-flat tyres that are default fit but can be deselected, too.
Recommended engine: X2 20d xDrive
The BMW X2 gets. Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) as standard, which works up to 30mph, plus you get rear parking sensors, heated wing mirrors, and six airbags.
For £790 extra you get the Driving Assistant package to get lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot warning, speed limit information and pedestrian detection for that AEB system. Stump up a further £310 to include active cruise control with traffic jam assist, which will keep the car a safe distance from the car in front and do all the accelerating and braking for you up to 37mph when the system is activated.
Honestly, a car of this price you should get speed limit information and pedestrian detection as standard – certainly on the higher trims - since this is stuff that’s often thrown in as standard on high-spec family hatchbacks. Equally, it’s a shame that the X2 doesn’t have a driver’s knee airbag (also a standard feature on plenty of lesser cars). A space saver spare tyre is £75 and you should always add this if you don’t go for run-flat tyres.
For all that, the BMW X2 gets a full five star Euro NCAP crash rating, with notably good ratings for child protection, so by any standard this is a very safe car.
All X2 models get a Thatcham Category 1 alarm and immobiliser.
Black or white are standard colours on SE and Sport, and there’s an array of the usual metallic blues, greys and silvers, while the only interesting options are a metallic brown or orange. M Sport trims only have white as a standard colour and, oddly, have a more limited but much brighter metallic palette to choose from, including Galvanic Gold (bright yellow to most of us), and Misano Blue (yup - bright blue). They actually look pretty cool on the X2, it must be said, so if you’re after an attention-seeking take on this stylish SUV then check them out.
SE is the entry level trim and includes that decent touchscreen and sat-nav system, cruise control, rear parking sensors, auto lights and wipers and two-zone climate control.
Sport adds ambient LED lighting inside, extended contrast stitching on the dashboard, sports seats, a different style of cloth upholstery to SE, bigger 18-inch alloys and full LED headlights.
M Sport adds all that exterior styling stuff, lowered suspension, heated front seats, part-alcantara upholstery with contrast stitching, while you have to go for M Sport X to get leather upholstery and roof rails as standard, and that silvery contrasting trim highlights to the exterior. You can also add the M Sport X Plus Pack to the top-spec trim for the Harman Kardon sound system, tinted glass and extended interior lighting.
Ultimately, the BMW X2 does have enough equipment to be comfortable even as standard, but there are a lot of options you’re going to want to add. Metallic paint is some £550, adaptive dampers a very reasonable £150, but then you’re going to want that Comfort Pack for £740 for its electric seat and lumbar adjustment, the Tech Pack for £1260 (head-up display and better nav screen, of course essentials), and you’ll probably want a reversing camera and folding rear mirrors, which’ll be £710 for the Visibility Pack thank you very much… That’s for stuff that a lot of buyers will consider compulsory, let alone before you consider the stuff you want because it’s nice, like the £600 Harman Kardon sound system, leather upholstery on anything but range-topping M Sport X is some £800 - £1150, and a sunroof is £945.
It looks well equipped on the surface of it, and this sort of optional equipment spend isn’t that unusual in the class – we’re looking at you Mercedes and Audi - but even so, it’s not difficult at all to spec a moderate X2 model up to £40,000 so be careful you don’t get carried away.
Size and Dimensions
Max towing weight unbraked - braked
TBC – 2000kg
The BMW X2 xDrive20d has about the lowest emissions and economy you’ll find in anything with equivalent power and four-wheel drive in the class. However, even factoring in the forthcoming sDrive18d – which gets under 120g/km and over 60mpg so is a great option for company car or high mileage buyers, others have a broader range of engines with lower power that will cost less and see you into sub-110g/km, including the Mercedes GLA 200d which comes in at under 110g/km and £30k list price.
Still, the BMW isn’t going to disappoint for emissions and economy, and key rivals including the Volvo XC40 don’t fare any better.
The X2 will hold its value well, too.
Reliability and servicing
It's hard to judge the BMW's reliability with very little historical data, but the X1 on which its based does reasonably well in owner surveys. Standard warranty is three years and 60,000 miles but you can buy an extended four- or five-year warranty, and you can get fixed price servicing.
The BMW’s brochure price is on the expensive side compared to some rivals. The cheapest four-wheel drive model – the xDrive18d – is close to £32k where you can get an automatic, diesel Volvo XC40 or Jaguar E-Pace with four-wheel drive for around £1000 less. Still, that’s pretty marginal in this class and the BMW’s equipment levels are usefully better than the Jag’s.
More importantly, BMW’s finance deals are generally good, but with the X2 being a very new model, monthly payments seem to be breathtakingly high. A £5000 deposit will see you into an xDrive20d M Sport (likely to be the most popular option for retail buyers) for £511 per month on a three year contract. That’s before you’ve added any options, which can easily push a moderate X2 model towards £40k, as we mention in the Spec and Trim Levels section.
That’s properly expensive. So expensive that, as we write, a bigger BMW X4 xDrive20d M Sport (which is a much more expensive model than the X2 on list price, at least) is actually cheaper on finance; the same PCP terms will see monthly payments come in at £480 with less interest to pay than the X2 demands.
More relevant is that a Volvo XC40 D3 AWD R-Design Pro will cost around £450 per month on the same terms, while a mid-spec Jaguar E-Pace S D180 AWD will cost around £480. The Audi Q3 is embarrassingly cheap by comparison, but it’s also an old model now and is due to be replaced very soon. Even so, a Q3 2.0 TDI S Line Edition quattro s tronic on these PCP terms undercuts the BMW X2 by a whopping £150 per month.
The reality is that the X2’s finance deals will come down to a more realistic level when it’s been on the roads for a few months and the new car launch fanfare has died down, when BMW’s typically quite competitive for finance options.
Company car buyers will find the X2 more reasonably priced. An sDrive18d M Sport will set a 40% tax payer back £337 per month in BIK tax for 2018/19, while an xDrive20d M Sport will come in at £373.
Go for SE xDrive20d if you can live without the M Sport style, and make sure to add the space saver tyre, Driver Assistant Plus for maximum safety, and the sun protection glass, too.
xDrive20i M Sport should be pretty cool, but avoid the run-flat tyres, add the adaptive dampers and avoid the M Sport steering for the best dynamic balance.
M Sport X is the top-spec and gets leather and some striking contrast exterior styling. Add the glass roof, M Sport X Plus Pack for the Harman Kardon sound system, tineted glass and extended interior lighting. sound system, Comfort Pack, Tech Pack
The Q3 is feeling old inside, now, and the X2 is much more practical, but the Q3 drives well and is cheaper to finance
Not as spacious as the X2, and the ride isn’t great however you spec the car, but it’s available with a broader range of engines
Range Rover Evoque
So stylish, so desirable, and actually very competent off road, and yet not so great to drive on road. Also feeling a bit lacklustre in the cabin finish and infotainment area. Can be drastically expensive, too.
Not as good to drive as you’d hope and standard equipment levels are well off the BMW’s
The baby Volvo looks great and is well-equipped with slightly lower pricing and finance than the X2; it’s BMW’s biggest problem in this class until the new Q3 arrives.