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First Drive: Second-generation BMW X2

The second-generation BMW X2 strikes a charming chord.

TopGear Reporter
April 17, 2024
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First Drive: BMW X2

The opportunity to witness the introduction of a particular product in its portfolio at both of its generations is a rare occurrence in our industry. Well, in my case, I am that fortunate. I was in Cape Town seven years ago, at the stunning Simmy Beach, when BMW South Africa introduced its first-generation subcompact luxury crossover. Even then, it had just two petrol engines on offer at the launch, as it did with this new generation. It seemed odd at the time, but it proved to be a good BMW product, with 390,000 units sold the world over. It was a success by any standard. 

The world has gone SUV crazy, and most upcoming products reflect this. BMW, on the other hand, has not lagged behind; the X Model Portfolio offers something for everyone. A few months ago, the all-new 2nd generation X2 made headlines. When we first saw a number of international press release pictures, we were smitten. Regensburg's designers had done enough to catch our interest.

The looks are bold highlighted by the huge grille (which we have now come to terms with) and LED headlights, plus the illuminated grille (M35i) adds extra flair to the package. Both derivatives at launch were kitted with M Sport packages and M Sport Pro. The M35i stands out with its sharper lines compared to its predecessor, which had a more rounded and softer appearance, even in its sporty attire. The side profile highlights are the 19 to 21-inch Y-motif multi-spoke wheels on the S-Drive 18i we sampled on our first drive stint. The M35i has lower profile 245/35/21R rubber that has serious street credit but does compromise some comfort; more about that later. I love those M-specific mirrors in the M35i, while the 18i has standard gloss black covers. With a gloss black spoiler, rear bumper black gloss inserts for the 18i, and double gloss extended quad exhaust outlets surrounded by what we could call a diffuser, the rear end beautifully completes the sports coupe silhouette.

The new X2 is 194mm longer (4,554mm), 21mm wider (1,845mm), and 64mm (1,590mm) higher than its predecessor. The exterior look on both models had me smitten, and the colour palette selection is just superb.

The interior is a minimalistic, premium affair, spaciously flowing yet practical. The low-hung dash allows for better visibility over the  digital curved display, which now uses the latest BMW Operating System 9. The centre console controls are similar to what you find in the X1, and I was not a fan of that system. The ergonomics do work for a visual appeal but lack a practical and user-friendly aspect. Seats are possibly the second-most aspect that I like about the car, clad in two-tone leather with high-quality stitching and an alcantara texture to boot, the dash inserts in the M35i boast alcantara-like leather, and you get those illuminated powered M Sports seats in the range topper, which are super supportive. In this case, the boot space (560–1470 litres) was not too bad for an SUV of the coupe variety since it's often a weakness in these kettle of cars.

Both models were equipped with the legendary Harmann Kardon Sound System, and it has extra features in the M35i, which I will divulge in my driving impression. The overall feel is premium yet sporty, and it works brilliantly. And you now get a skyroof panoramic glass that does not open but adds an airy ambiance to the cabin.

How does it drive? The 18i has a 3-potter powerplant, which I believe may just be the one for most folks despite its 115kW power output and 230Nm torque figures. These may not seem like much to haul a SAV this size, but they prove quite adequate in their task of sending power to the front wheels via a 7-speed automatic gearbox, which does not skip a beat. The delivery is diligent, and it's steady even during spirited jolts and sweeps. BMW has also taken the courtesy of filtering down the boost function from the new 5 Series, which is activated by holding back the upshifting paddle for a few seconds, and you get 10 seconds of full power, best used for overtaking. The steering does feel rather sensitive, even to the slightest input at higher speeds.

Then there's the the lane-keep and departure safety driving aids in both models. I found them to be overly intrusive, and while I acknowledge their tantamount importance, I do wish they had a less aggressive warning system.

The M35i comes gun blasting with a 2.0-litre turbocharged mill delivering a hearty 233kW and 400Nm through a 7-speed automatic gearbox, sending power to all fours. While the power delivery feels quite exciting and intoxicating, the immersion is somewhat interrupted when you discover that the perceptible pops and bangs don't emanate from the quad-pipes but are instead fed through the speakers of the Harman Kardon sound system. Eish, I felt short-changed there for a second.

Still, the X2 M35i jolts at a rapid pace with a 0-100km/h time of 5.4 seconds, while the power surge is persistent to 6000r/min. The handling is also excellent, even with the oversensitive steering, and when it comes to braking, the 19-inch brake discs do an excellent job of bringing the X2 to a stop. It’s a fun BMW that lives up to its SAV designation. The artificial sound, though, is something that I'm sure BMW's M Performance division can sort out.

The new X2 is an impressive addition to BMW's lineup, offering two enticing options. The S-Drive 18i comes at a price of R873,793.20, while the range-topping M35i, with its charming appeal and comprehensive standard features, is priced at R1,223,935.70. With its competitive pricing and standout specifications, the X2 should be a clear winner in its market segment.

Words: Wezile Bonani


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