BMW X2 M35i road test: an SUV with impressive credentials
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BMW’s X2 compact SUV is an acquired taste. It has its critics, but is clearly popular in this country.
It was BMW New Zealand’s fourth best-selling model last year, and looks likely to hold that position with the addition of a potent new M35i model joining the X2 range.
Powered by a four-cylinder engine that puts out 225kW of power and 450Nm of torque, the M35i reaches 100km/h in just 4.9s. The power is transferred smoothly through an eight-speed Steptronic sport automatic transmission. It does so while emitting a satisfying exhaust growl that lets everyone inside the cabin and outside know this is not a conventional or standard SUV.
And yet you can’t help wondering why the X2 exists. If you want a compact SUV, BMW does the more conventionally shaped and more practical SUV justice with its X3.
X2 buyers have to be prepared to sacrifice some of the practicality of the squarer X1 or X3, in return for the arguably more sporty and sleeker lines of the X2.
The X2’s frontal treatment has its critics, but like most car designs, resistance diminishes with time. And behind the wheel this X2 is fantastic. The steering is direct and precise, and the vehicle is well-grounded. There is also the reassurance provided by larger M-Sport brakes when you are tempted to push too hard into or out of a corner.
Although it sits on 20in wheels, the ride is comfortable no matter which drive mode you engage. Options are comfort, eco pro and sport. Once sampled, most of the driving we did was in either sport or comfort modes.
The acceleration is quick, and delivered smoothly. You can feel yourself being pushed back into the seat as the car takes off, almost as if this is a hot hatch rather than a sporty SUV.
There is surprisingly little body roll in such a high-riding model, and the steering is precise, with plenty of feedback to the driver.
When cornering the X2 M35i sticks to the chosen pathway, without it needing lots of corrections to get around safely. There are paddle shifters on the steering wheel but I found the gearbox does such a great job there is little need to resort to them to enjoy the driving.
There’s a clear heads-up windscreen display and this model comes with a Harman Kardon surround sound system and a panoramic sun roof as standard.
There is an automatic tailgate and parking assist, a bonus in a higher riding SUV. Other driver assistance technology such as lane keep assist also works well in the X2, as you would expect from a premium brand such as BMW.
The X2 M35i presents the potential buyer with a dilemma. Do you want a performance-oriented sporty but compact SUV, or do you prefer the driver benefits of a lower-oriented sporty sedan or hot hatchback? The need for plenty of space for family members and their gear could tip you towards the practicality of the X2.
The X2 model range stands apart from other models in the BMW range. It is not just a coupe version of a small SUV, but a whole new model.
By powering up the X2 with the M35i specification, BMW has directly addressed criticism that the model lacked omph. And potential buyers have a “look at me” compact SUV with real sporting credentials.
2019 BMW X2 M35I
PROS: Swift and comfortable sporting SUV
CONS: Frontal treatment as acquired taste