Head start for BMW X2 crossover
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BMW’s Munich-based driving dynamics engineer Andreas Stumm reckons there’s one road that will be ideal for the company’s all-new X2 crossover — the Forgotten World Highway in Taranaki.
He thinks the crossover would easily navigate the scenic drive’s 148km of winding road from Stratford in Taranaki to Taumarunui in the King Country.
BMW held the global launch of the X2 in Lisbon, Portugal recently with the compact vehicle following the X4 and X6 in the company’s line up as a coupe-style crossover.
Though BMW globally will eventually be introducing seven versions of X2 to the market, in New Zealand we’re getting two; the SDrive18i (priced from $60,900) and $10,000 more for the sDrive20i.
The two petrol engines will be paired to a new generation seven-speed double clutch Steptronic transmission.
The sDrive18i petrol variant generates a maximum output of 100kW of power and 220Nm of torque, while the sDrive20i variant delivers 141kW of power and 280Nm of torque. Both models are FWD; optional M Sport and M Sport X styling packages are available.
The X2 is 4360mm long, 1526mm high and 1824mm wide, with 942mm of headroom in the rear seat and 470 litres of boot space.
So why would you pick the coupe-style X2 over the X1?
“It’s a different concept so it’s going to appeal to a different buyer and target market,” said BMW NZ’s head of corporate communications, Paul Sherley, at the Lisbon launch.
“The X2 is more urban-focused but a lot more sporty and style-dynamic, while the X1 is a more traditional shape with more practical appeal. The X2’s dynamics and style are different.”
Sherley said though the prices are comparable to the X1, “the small SUV segment is booming, and it gives buyers another alternative in the BMW range”.
Though the international launch was in Portugal, Stumm has travelled in New Zealand; so when asked about which route would suit the X2, he immediately picked the scenic Taranaki drive, especially as he’s a surfer.
“It’s a great road and there are some great beaches around there,” he told Driven.
Stumm worked on giving the X2 a sportier ride, suitable for the winding Forgotten World Highway.
“The body is stiffer, about 10 per cent stiffer in torsion, than the X1,” he said.
“We tuned the dampers differently, too, with a more stabiliser pushing technique ... it gives more directness, and the initially roll is reduced also get a better compromise between comfort and dynamics. You can get a good compromise between sportiness and comfort.”
When it came to the looks, BMW’s exterior designer, Hussein Al-Attar, created the M Sport and the all-new M Sport X packages. When asked what the “X” stood for, BMW says it means “X factor” for what the brand is calling the X2 a Sports Activity Coupe, rather than a SUV.
“Design-wise we concentrated more on the optics of an SUV, especially with the M Sport X, which is the new approach that we really tried out with this car,” said Al-Attar.
He said that in the X1 line up, the design starts with base model, then they add a sports package, — but with the X2, they went the other way.
“So we went to the M Sports package and from there we developed the ruggedness. This is how the M Sport X package came to be.
“This is unique for this car, and also to really emphasis the sporty character of the car.”
Along with designer Sebastian Simm, Al-Attar worked on creating a “rugged appearance” for the X2.
“We came up with the clever system of exchanging parts and changing the colour of parts between the M Sport and the M Sport X packages and really show a different character in the front, rear and side as well.”
Their briefing was to not think of it as a coupe version of the X1. “The first idea was to make a small X6, and we didn’t want to do that, anyway,” said Al-Attar.
“The main inspiration was what would a funky little SUV look like, inspired by rally sport, and how would a BMW in that segment look like?”
That rally sport inspiration is reflected with a badge on C-pillar but it’s the front of the X2 that is revolutionary for the brand. For the first time, the kidney grille has been flipped so it is wider at the bottom.
On the road, the X2 stood out, but it came to the fore on winding country hills north of Lisbon.
The low centre of gravity meant the X2 held its ground and despite only driving the diesel model (which won’t be available here), the three hour-plus drive programme gave a good sense of what the vehicle can achieve.
It will arrive in New Zealand in a crowded segment that will increase throughout the year but BMW hopes the March on-sale date will give it a head start.