BMW X2 for the extroverted
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The term all-new is so over used it has become a cliche, but it is appropriate to describe BMW’s X2 crossover.
It is a more extroverted option for those contemplating the switch to a compact SUV, who want to stand out in the increasingly crowded smaller cross-over segment of the market.
To do so will cost more than buying the more conventionally shaped BMW X1 model, and there will also be sacrifices in terms of load space.
But the X2 stands out as much different from the squarer-shaped SUVs.
BMW is careful to point out the X2 is not simply a coupe version of its X1 model but an entirely distinct new model.
The X2 has arrived here just months after its European launch late last year, which suggests there is likely to be some pent-up demand for the vehicle.
The X2 sDrive20i model tested is powered by a four cylinder 2-litre turbo-charged engine, which puts out 141kW of power and 280Nm of torque.
Coupled to a 7-speed Steptronic double-clutch transmission, it delivers a zero to 100km/h speed in a claimed 7.7 seconds, so is no slouch in terms of performance.
The X2 delivers that performance surprisingly smoothly, especially given that a dual-clutch transmission is fitted. There is no lag in power delivery, particularly when in manual mode, using the paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
As we have come to expect from BMW, the engine delivers power and torque progressively at relatively low revs and without drama.
There are the three driving modes — eco pro, comfort and sport, the latter of which manages to hold the X2 in lower gears and delivers a sportier drive. The engine tends to labour in eco mode but the default comfort setting certainly delivers a satisfying enough driving experience.
The Misano blue metallic paint on the test car drew comments from bystanders, making a bold statement that theX2 has arrived.
The traditional BMW kidney grille has been turned upside down to help emphasise the width of the X2. It may take traditionalists time to get used to the new front, but it is certainly distinctive.
There is a long bonnet and the windscreen is sharply raked back to add to the sporty image. The shoulder line along the side is angled sharply at the rear quarter windows and, combined with the sloping roof, this all contributes to a more sporty appearance than most of its more box-like X model siblings.
There is very little rear overhang, and although the rear door is relatively vertical, the window rakes back steeply to accentuate a more aggressive rear-end appearance.
The result from inside the car is a slightly odd-shaped view through the rear window, but this is compensated for by an effective rear-view camera. It delivers a full 360-degree view of whatever is going on behind the vehicle when you are reversing.
Large chrome twin exhaust tips also help give the rear of the X2 a somewhat dramatic appearance.
In a nod to BMW’s heritage, the X2 is the first model for decades to feature the BMW roundel logo on the C pillars.
The two front seats wrap the driver and passenger nicely, and although the ride in all driving modes is firm, the sports seats are comfortable even after a 2-hour journey. The lateral support in sharp corners is excellent.
The elegant leather steering wheel accommodates the adaptive cruise control buttons and phone controls without the clutter that some other manufacturers inflict on drivers.
There are two clear round dials immediately in front of the driver (the speedo and rev counter, plus the standard efficiency measure common to most BMWs).
The paddle shifters are firm and effective with very short movement, and seem to be more intuitive to use than in some other brands. These paddles are fun to use, which cannot be said of many.
There is a touch screen at the top centre of the dashboard, with a default setting showing the radio station setting, a central navigation window, and the weather on the right. You can use either touch-screen controls or the round central controller that is within easy reach of the driver on the central console between the two front seats.
There is a surprising amount of space inside the X2, especially given its sleeker appearance compared with other X models.
Rear seats have plenty of space for tall passengers, although younger children may jibe at the higher rear window.
There is 470 litres of space available with the back seats in place, which is a shade less than the X1. This includes an under-the-floor space that can be opened up to provide more usable cargo space. Because the X2 runs on run-flat tyres, there is no need for a spare in the floor of the rear compartment.
It is easy to get in and out of, and the process is made simpler by an effective keyless entry system, especially for the driver — with the key fob in your pocket you merely have to touch the front door driver’s door handle and the vehicle unlocks.
The X2 range starts with the X2 sDrive18i, retailing for $60,900 here, which is about $1000 more expensive than the baseline BMW X1.
The X2 sDrive i20i sells for $70,900. However the model tested was fitted with 20-inch Pirelli tyres, the comfort access system, head-up display, Dakota leather, M rear spoiler over the rear window, the M Sports steering, metallic paint, Navigation Plus and electric front seats. These options push the price to $85,740.
The X2 range has been given the top 5-Star Ancap safety rating.
The X2 is up against some stiff competition in the compact SUV segment of New Zealand’s market — clearly the Mercedes-Benz GLA model range, the Audi Q2, and the Range Rover Evoque are alternative options for buyers to consider.
The field will become even more competitive when the Range Rover I-Pace, and Volvo’s XC40 models arrive.
Pros: Stands out in a crowded SUV/SAV market
Cons: Firm ride, expensive when fully optioned