BMW have decided we need another X model to join the ranks of the X1, X3, X4, X5 and X6. I have to admit, when I saw the photos for the X2 before it was launched, I didn’t like it. Something about it didn’t get me going.

Part of this was a feeling of ‘X Overload’. Do we really need yet another X model?

The X2 is built on the X1 chassis, but simply with a different body shape, and designed to be a more sporty drive. Could it be its own model and stand apart from the X1 and X3?

BMW New Zealand sent us a mid-spec sDrive20i to find out.

The Range

If you’re in an X2 frame of mind, you get three models to choose from; the base sDrive18i at $60,900 (FWD), the sDrive20i at $70,900 (FWD) and the all-wheel-drive XDrive20i at $73,900.

The base model runs a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder turbo motor putting out 100kW of power and 220Nm of torque. For a three-cylinder motor, that’s a lot of torque.

Both the sDrive20i and the xDrive20i have a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder twin-scroll turbo motor, which manages a healthy 141kW of power and 280Nm of torque.

The FWD models run a 7-speed automatic transmission, while the AWD model has an 8-speed.

For the base model’s money, you’ll get 18” alloy wheels, LED headlights with cornering lights, SatNav, Parking Assistant with rear-view camera, an electric tailgate, Driving Assistant, keyless entry and start, auto-parking electric mirrors, LED fog lights, auto wipers and lights, LED rear lights, lane departure warning, parking sensors, a 6.5” central display, ‘ConnectedDrive’ (Concierge Services, BMW Connected+, Intelligent Emergency Call, Real Time Traffic Information, Remote Services and TeleServices), 2-zone climate AC, and Sensatec upholstery.

Other than the bigger motor, the sDrive20i adds 19” alloys, Driving Assistant Plus with active cruise control, the M Sport X package, and heated front sports seats, and Alcantara trim.

Obviously for the extra $3,000, the xDrive20i gets AWD and a change to an 8-speed automatic.

Our test car was fitted with $15,000 in optional extras including 20” M alloy wheels, Apple CarPlay, digital radio tuner, Heads-Up Display (HUD), M rear spoiler, M Sports steering, metallic paint, Navigation Plus, electric front seats with memory for the driver, and the Vision and Sound Package bringing it to $85,900. According to BMW New Zealand, our test car was a launch vehicle and so was fitted with a higher level of spec than most customers would order.

First Impressions

This is going to get personal. Personally, I love the look of the X2 in the flesh – it’s hugely more attractive than when I saw the initial photos. Also, the Galvanic Gold our test car was finished in just topped it off – stunning design, stunning colour. Loved it.

This car turned heads everywhere I went. One day I parked in a city street, there were some burly construction workers sitting on the footpath having lunch. After I parked right next to them – one threw me a “nice car mate” and then they all came over to check it out. Main comments from these guys? The colour.

But others were not convinced. Our Galvanic Gold X2 galvanised opinions. Some hated it, most loved it. Others hated the shape, most loved it.

So – it’s a personal choice, and full credit to BMW for offering such a stunning colour.

I’m glad on the X2 BMW have painted those diagonal bars behind the grille black. They’re silver on the X3, and they stand out, but not in a good way.

The BMW badges up on the C pillar? Priceless design touch.

The Inside

Wow – there’s lots of black in here! Roof lining, seats, door panels, dash. It’s a bit of black overload, but thankfully there’s a tilt/slide panoramic sunroof to let the light in, complete with an electric blind. There’s also some tasty yellow stitching on the seats, dash, console, floor mats, and doors and it looks fantastic. Once you get over the blackness, it’s a superb cockpit.

That’s not to say it’s far removed from any other of the X models – it’s just nicely done. Tasteful, sporty. Couldn’t ask for much more than that.

Sitting in the driver’s seat, that lovely little M leather sports steering wheel feels so good to hold, and looks great too, complete with a little ‘M’ badge at the bottom.

All the seating is Alcantara, and comfort levels are high. The front seats on our test car were an optional electric pair, and both had electric side bolster adjustment and manual seat cushion length adjustment, as well as memory settings for the driver. They really are great seats, and the side support when you push the car along is perfect.

Looking about the dash, there’s quite a lot of piano black, which loves finger prints and dust, but looks great when it’s clean. At night, there’s some LED strip lights on the dash and all doors, with a colour choice of 8 to pick from, as well as the brightness.

I was a bit stunned to see there was only one (!) USB port in the front of the X2, and none in the back. A bit of a surprise there. Another surprise at this sort of cost was no qi wireless phone charging.

There’s the usual display and BMW’s iDrive system, driven by a knob on the centre console or by the touchscreen. This has been covered off in many of our BMW reviews, and it works perfectly well.

I still love how easily you can drag and drop what apps you want on your home page on the central display. BMW does this so well. We still test so many cars that either don’t have a home page, or if they do, it just shows you the buttons to select what you want. In the X2, I had the News, my vehicle status and media playing. So simple.

Rear legroom is average for the class, although with the high waistline, children in the back seat will not have a great view out the window – hopefully this doesn’t induce car sickness.

The boot is pretty roomy with 470 litres of space – helping this along is the lack of  spare tyre, so lifting the floor panel will reveal a large storage area for all those things that we carry around in cars, but will never use.

The Drive

I’m going to kick this straight into the actual drive, since BMW say this is a sporty vehicle. You’d think being built on the X1 SUV chassis, it’d be hard to make it sporty. Here’s the thing; the X1 more than impressed me with its handling.

So then, the X2 being lower down and shod with some sticky, low-profile Pirelli 225/40/20 P-Zero tyres should be even better? Yes, it is.

I took the X2 to my Favourite Handling Road, a mix of up and down hill, tight bends, sweepers. It’s got it all. On the whole, the X2 did very well. The grip from those Pirellis was excellent, and at times it was hard to pick as being a front-wheel drive car. Turn in was excellent, as the car just fell into the corners. Steering feedback was superb, and a stand-out for me were the brakes – fantastic feel, and the stopping power was outstanding.

This is a fun car on a twisty road.

So it’s almost hard to notice it being FWD, but at times you can tell. Going too fast into a bend will see some understeer, and too many times going uphill and accelerating out of a corner saw the inside front wheel lift, and then wheel spin. Totally expected, but time was lost with one front wheel not on the ground around the twisty stuff.

So it handles pretty good, and it should with those M badges on the front guards. But what about commuting and the Daily Drive? The X2 proves itself here, with a few disclaimers.

Let’s get the stuff I didn’t like out of the road.

There’s no Blind Spot Monitoring, which was a real surprise. Those C pillars are fairly chunky. They look sexy as hell, especially with that BMW badge on them, but they aren’t small. No blind spot monitoring is a big gap in the X2’s feature list.

With those 20” alloys and low-profile Pirelli P-Zero tyres, you’d think the ride would be jiggly at best. I’m really torn in classifying the ride on the sDrive20i – in my notes, one day I wrote “the ride is excellent for this tyre/wheel combo!” and then the next day I wrote, “the ride is too hard!” At low speeds, it can get a bit harsh. Not noisy, but certainly jiggly. Worth it though and still a good compromise for the sportiness of the X2.

You know what? That’s pretty much it for the negatives.

The X2 has BMW’s excellent colour heads-up display (HUD). They do this so well, you get the speed limit for the road you are on all the time in the HUD, which is how is should be. SatNav directions, audio tracks – nearly all the info you want is right there in front of your eyes. Why nearly all? When you select Sport Mode, you don’t see what gear you are in, in the HUD. This is a no-brainer. With an engine this smooth at all revs, you really want to know the gear selected. Keep in mind the HUD is an optional extra – but almost a must-have.

And boy, is it a smooth engine. We’ve seen the same power-plant in the X1 and X3, and it’s great piece of engineering. Smooth, quiet – but then give it the beans, and it returns a nice little growl at certain revs. Torquey too – when giving it a bit of gas on that windy road, I could easily use a higher gear and simply rely on that 280Nm of torque to give me some decent acceleration.

The car is no rip-snorting M140i, but it does well as a sedate, around-town hatchback, then has the ability to tear up the corners easily. Getting to 100km/h in 7.7 seconds is more than respectable.

Travelling on the motorway, there’s almost no wind noise and road noise is minimal. Even with the panoramic sunroof open fully, there’s not much buffeting, no doubt helped by the flip-up wind deflector.

Still on the Daily Drive, BMW’s adaptive cruise control is one of the best; turning it on means simply hitting the cruise button. No need to muck about with hitting any second ‘set’ buttons. It pulls you to a complete stop too of course, and will resume with a touch of the gas pedal.

I’ve gone on and on in other reviews about engine auto-off systems. In a nutshell, when you have an engine that turns itself off at the lights, you don’t want it to start again when the driver puts the handbrake on (because they are stopping for a long time). However most manufacturers do this and it drives me crazy. BMW is one of the few that does it right. Stop at the lights, engine goes off. Put the handbrake on, engine stays off. Touch the gas pedal, engine starts. I switched cars from the X2 to an Outback, and the Outback is already driving me crazy, starting itself at the lights whenever I put the handbrake on.

BMW is the only manufacturer that allows you to use Apple CarPlay via Bluetooth, although you have to pay extra for this feature. Still handy though, if you are too lazy to use a USB cable.  Since there’s only one USB port, this is a good option to have.

Audio quality from the Harmon/Kardon sound system is excellent. While I generally like BMW’s steering wheel controls, I did have fun with the thumbwheel on the steering wheel for changing tracks. As soon as you move the thumbwheel, the track you are on pops up in the HUD, with the other tracks before and after it, above and below it in the HUD. But I always move the thumbwheel the wrong way – it feels back to front to me. Also I find it hard to move only one track forward or back. As I did in the X1 and X3, I end up using the forward/back controls on the centre console instead.

Fuel economy for my week with the X2 was a fair bit off what BMW says it should get. While it’s rated at 5.9L/100km, I managed to use 8.4.

The Competition

Brand/Model Engine Power/Torque Fuel, L/100km Seats Boot space, litres (3rd row down where fitted) Towing capacity, Kg (unbraked/braked) Price – High to Low
Lexus NX300 (FWD) 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol 175kW/350Nm 7.7 5 n/a 750/1500 $82,400
Mercedes-Benz GLA250 (AWD) 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol 155kW/350Nm 7 5 421 750/1800 $80,000
Jaguar E-Pace R-Dynamic S (AWD) 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol 185kW/365Nm 7.7 5 577 NA/1800 $79,900
Audi Q3 TFSI Sport S Line (AWD) 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol 132kW/320Nm 6.7 5 460 NA $73,900
BMW X2 sDrive20i (FWD) 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder twin-scroll turbo petrol 141kW/280Nm 5.9 5 470 NA/1700 $70,900



The Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
  • Design
  • Engine smoothness
  • Handling/steering for a FWD car
  • Brakes
  • Interior quality and feel
  • No blind spot monitoring
  • Single USB port

What do we think of it?

I wouldn’t say I wasn’t looking forward to testing the X2, but it wasn’t getting me going like the M140i we have coming up.

And yet, I loved it. Part of it was the look and colour – it’s a stand out – and then there’s the drive. I thought it was going to be a bit of a ‘meh’ test car, but it happily surprised me.

The price on our test car with the extras was a real eye-opener for this size of vehicle, but $74K for the AWD xDrive model without those extras puts that model near the bottom of cost in our comparison table.

One day I wrote in my notes, “I’m struggling to find something wrong with this car.” For me, it is almost a 5-chevron car.

The X2 really is a great drive all-round. Well done, BMW.

drivelife car review chevrons four and half




2018 BMW X2 sDrive20i

Chevrons 4.5

Vehicle Type 5-door, small FWD SUV
Starting Price $60,900
Price as Tested $85,900
Engine 2-litre, 4-cylinder, twin-scroll turbo petrol
Power, Torque 141kW/280Nm
Transmission 7-speed sports automatic
0-100km/h, seconds 7.7
Spare Wheel Run-flat tyres
Kerb Weight, Kg 1490
Length x Width x Height, mm 4369x2098x1526
Cargo Capacity, litres 470
Fuel capacity, litres 61
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – combined –  5.9L/100km

Real World Test – combined –  8.4L/100km

Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+

Towing Capacity

Kg, unbraked/braked

Turning circle, metres n/a

Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+

Warranty 5 years warranty

3 years free servicing

5 years Roadside Assist

ANCAP Safety Ratings 5 Star

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Fred Alvrez
How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm a driving instructor and an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.


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