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BMW X2 (2024) Launch Review
BMW X2 (2024) Launch Review

BMW X2 (2024) Launch Review

April 23, 2024
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22 Apr 2024

BMWBMW X2Car LaunchesGeneral CarSUVShare:

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The 2nd-generation BMW X2 coupe-style premium small crossover has arrived in Mzansi. We briefly drove both turbopetrol-powered derivatives in the Western Cape.

What’s new with the BMW X2?

What you see here is the 2nd-gen BMW X2, which its maker has codenamed the U10. Compared with its predecessor, the newcomer is longer (by 194 mm), wider (by 21 mm) and stands 64 mm taller.

The longer wheelbase (by 22 mm) is arguably the most important generational development, because it facilitates better cabin packaging. BMW says the new X2’s load-bay capacity has increased by 90 litres.

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BMW has not shied away from introducing new design cues recently and the U10 X2 is no exception; we’d go so far as to say that it doesn’t even resemble a BMW from certain angles! Although the new X2 shares the UKL2 platform with its stablemate, the X1 premium small crossover, the models are poles apart, visually and physically. For an added extravert touch, you can even specify an illuminated grille!

The cabin, in turn, features a curved (combined infotainment touchscreen and digital instrument cluster) display on the dash, which is powered by the latest Android-based BMW Operating 9 operating system.

We have mixed feelings about its interface: it looks fantastic, but displays an overload of information that requires familiarisation. Also new in this model are shapely sports seats and, like in virtually every new BMW, the cabin looks and feels solid – it features premium materials and emits no rattles or squeaks.

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South African line-up of the BMW X2

While the X1 and X2 share a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder turbopetrol engine, which powers the sDrive18i M Sport, the former is also available in turbodiesel guise, whereas the latter isn’t. Instead, the X2 line-up features a performance-oriented M35i derivative, which utilises a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbopetrol engine that puts out 233 kW and 400 Nm of torque. Anoraks will recognise that it’s an updated version of the B48 motor.

This turbopetrol-only line-up suggests the X2 is a more style-driven “boutique” offering than the rather conventional X1 compact family car; it’s aimed at trendy urbanites, who’ll admire the model’s sportiness.

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The range-topping X2 M35i sends power to all 4 wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch auto transmission and is claimed to dash from 0-100 kph in just 5.4 seconds. As a reminder, the sDrive18i is front-wheel-driven and its 1.5-litre turbo motor (mated with a 7-speed torque-converter auto ‘box) makes 115 kW/230 Nm.

This is undoubtedly the most attention-grabbing model in the BMW Group’s small crossover range (for the moment, anyway). Whereas M Sport trim is standard on the U10 X2 derivatives, the X1 offers variants with xLine and M Sport trim grades and is also available with all-electric and plug-in hybrid powertrains.

What’s the all-new BMW X2 like to drive?

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Our first experience of the U10 X2 came courtesy of the M35i. With an appropriately sporty drive mode dialled in, this flagship proved an eager point-to-point performer. The engine comes on song rapidly and doesn’t hesitate to make its voice heard. There’s a sharp induction bark on downshifts and when you lift off the accelerator pedal, the quad exhausts emit deep, bassy rumbles. We suspect some of the aural effects are synthesised through the cabin’s speakers, but they’re subtle (don’t sound patently artificial).

Unsurprisingly, the M35i rides firmly – our test unit’s larger wheels seemed to exaggerate the sensation at slower speeds, but at no point did the suspension setup feel unduly harsh. The steering (aided by a thick-rimmed ‘wheel) feels very BMW-like: direct, reasonably weighted and pleasingly responsive, but the weighting and responsiveness vary between drive modes – you certainly can feel the difference between Comfort and Sport. Our only gripe is that the new ‘shift paddles feel a trifle rubbery to operate.

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Given the X2’s sporty bent, buyers will expect the newcomer to deliver an engaging driving experience – and it does, to an extent. Critically, the model manages to hide its weight pretty well. With a kerb weight of just over 1 700 kg, the 2nd-gen X2 is no featherweight, but it can carve up corners deftly. And, thanks to all-wheel drive, you can drive enthusiastically safe in the knowledge that the BMW has plenty of grip. Still, given BMW’s legacy of fun-to-drive small cars, the X2 M35i is only moderately satisfying to pilot.

Then there’s the front-wheel-drive X2 sDrive18i, which brings its charming 3-cylinder turbopetrol motor to the party. If you suspect that a 1.5-litre engine might be too weedy to motivate a model as substantial as BMW’s new X2, our experience with this powertrain suggests quite the contrary. Its outputs of 115 kW and 230 Nm compare favourably with those of its rivals; in fact, its performance is more than adequate.

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Most 3-cylinder motors emit an offbeat thrum because they are inherently unbalanced (due to having an odd number of pistons). However, most manufacturers compensate for that configuration mechanically and acoustically – BMW is no exception. Unless you’re revving it to the redline, the 1.5 litre is fairly muted and there’s enough power for cut-and-thrust urban driving. The sDrive18i never feels as if it lacks punch.

While the X2 is marketed as a premium small crossover, the newcomer’s overall driving experience is more akin to that of a nippy hatchback than a docile raised-body SUV, which further adds to its appeal.

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2024 BMW X2 Price in South Africa (April 2024)

The new X2 ships with a 2-year/unlimited km warranty and a 5-year/100 000 km maintenance plan.

BMW X2 sDrive18i M Sport R879 738
BMW X2 M35i R1 223 936

See also: BMW X2 (2024) Price & Specs

Summary

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If you’re in the market for a compact luxury car, but find the BMW X1 a trifle too mainstream and, well, predictable for your taste, the X2 offers the kind of standout presence that will draw admiring, if not downright envious, glances from other road users. While mechanical differences between the X1 and the X2 are minor, their executions are quite different; the bolder X2 feels more energetic and spirited to pilot.

Given the R50k premium that the U10 X2 demands over its conventional and identically-powered X1 sibling (in the case of the sDrive18i M Sport), BMW’s newcomer doesn’t represent great value for money, but it’s a heart-over-head proposition – and its nonconformist appeal should win it more than a few fans.

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