Smallish car, biggish price—we try out the 2024 BMW X2 M35i


Enlarge / BMW calls the X2 a Sport Activity Coupe.

Jonathan Gitlin

Last week, we told you about our first drive in the new Mini Countryman John Cooper Works, Mini’s new little crossover. This week, it’s the turn of a related model, built on the same vehicle architecture: BMW’s new X2 crossover, or “Sports Activity Coupe” in BMW-speak. As we’ll find out, the BMW shares more than one trait with the Countryman JCW.

BMW had an array of X2 M35is, all painted the same “Frozen Tampa Bay” shade of green, which starts in the US at $51,400. There’s a less-powerful $42,000 X2 xDrive28i coming here as well, but North American customers will not be offered the battery-electric iX2—BMW’s product planners evidently didn’t think importing the diminutive EV would be profitable. Outside the US, BMW expects 1 in 5 X2s to be electric.

The first-generation X2 (and the more upright-looking X1) were divisive cars even by BMW standards. The new one is slightly bigger than before, at 179.3 inches (4,554 mm) long, 72.6 inches (1,844 mm) wide, and 62.6 inches (1,590 mm) tall. That translates to more rear legroom and more cargo volume at the back, but it’s not a massive machine—a touch bigger than the Audi Q3 but a bit smaller than a Mercedes-Benz GLB.

Each of those exhaust pipes is almost 4 inches wide, yet all the sound is synthesized by speakers in the cabin.
Enlarge / Each of those exhaust pipes is almost 4 inches wide, yet all the sound is synthesized by speakers in the cabin.

Jonathan Gitlin

It’s not the most elegant car to emerge from BMW’s design studio in recent years, although the styling tweaks for the M35i version—a different front splitter, quad exhaust pipes, an M-specific rear spoiler, and an illuminated kidney grille—are visually rather bold. The three-dimensional light cluster details are rather interesting.

The X2 M35i is powered by a turbocharged 2.0 L four-cylinder gasoline engine that generates 312 hp (233 kW) and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm), sufficient to propel it to 60 mph (98 km/h) in 5.2 seconds via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that sends power to all four wheels.

BMW says it has heavily revised the suspension of the new X2, which shares a similar layout to the old model but with very little parts carryover. On the road, the main thing you notice is that the ride is quite firm, with a lot of lateral jostling at low speeds over bumps or potholes despite adaptive dampers as standard.

It’s also not particularly engaging to drive on a twisty road, with little feel communicated through the fat-rimmed steering wheel. The gearbox’s control logic was good enough not to need to bother with shifting manually via the paddles, but a long pull on the left paddle engages an overboost function for a short time.

The taillights (and headlights) have a rather interesting 3D design.
Enlarge / The taillights (and headlights) have a rather interesting 3D design.

BMW

As with the Mini Countryman JCW, the noises that accompany spirited driving are quite artificial in nature, being played to the occupants via the car’s internal speakers. This keeps noise levels low for bystanders, and while many of my colleagues found the sounds too contrived for their tastes, I actually quite liked the pops and crackles.

While the car wasn’t that thrilling to drive, I was impressed with how well it coped during a violent rainstorm. It handled puddles of standing water without a hint of hydroplaning, although a rear windshield wiper would be a welcome addition.

The cabin design is a little fussy, and there’s a big blind spot from the driver’s side A pillar that mars otherwise good forward visibility. The rear windshield is a little small, on the other hand. And on the topic of complaints, the cubby built into the armrest between the front seats is too weirdly shaped to be able to accommodate a smartphone—I’m not sure what you’re supposed to be able to store there other than pens, pencils, and maybe short rulers.

The X2 uses BMW’s latest operating system 9, like the bigger and more expensive cars in the lineup. I’m normally a big fan of the latest version of iDrive, which offers excellent voice recognition and a UI that mostly helps the driver out. But like the Mini Countryman, in the X2 it feels as if the infotainment system is underpowered.

However, I did finally check out BMW’s in-car gaming, which also appeared in the BMW i5 we tested last year. It’s called AirConsole, and you use your phone as a controller, pairing it to the system via a QR code. There’s a Mario Kart clone that’s passable, and my drive partner and I tried a trivia game, too.

While I’m talking tech, I should also praise the augmented view for the navigation system, which overlays big arrows onto a video feed to show you exactly which turn it wants you to take. The My BMW App integration is also rather well implemented—you can use an Android or iOS phone as a digital key for the car, as well as remotely lock and unlock the doors or the cargo hatch.

If all of that sounds compelling, you should already be able to find the X2 M35i in stock at BMW dealerships.



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