German crossover exudes rebellious character

LAUNCH | 2024 BMW X2 amplifies youthful persona

Brenwin Naidu Motoring editor, reporter and presenter
Expressive styling sets it apart from X1 in dramatic fashion.
Expressive styling sets it apart from X1 in dramatic fashion.
Image: Supplied

The sport-utility vehicle species has flourished over the last two decades.

The range expansion of these body styles in the BMW portfolio reflects that quite well. Starting off with the X5 just before the millennium, the line-up now accounts for every digit from X1 to X7. And who is to say there might not be an X8 or an X9 in coming years?

The even numbers are reserved for offerings with a coupé slant: yes, they might not have two doors, but sloping rooflines among other signatures ensure a suitably different persona. In the BMW context, that trend was started by the X6 – which eagle-eyed observers might accuse of having borrowed cues from the obscure Ssangyong Actyon.

In 2018, BMW launched the X2, a sleeker, more expressive representation of the ingredients found in the X1. Now the latest generation X2 has arrived and we attended its national introduction last week.

Unlike the X1, which can be had with diesel or electric powertrains, BMW South Africa has decided to serve the X2 in petrol format exclusively.

The brand said that the intended exclusivity of the model warranted a rationalised range. Primarily, the X2 buyer is looking for individuality and style in particular, versus an X1 shopper who may place greater weight on other pragmatic aspects.

That is not to say the X2 is especially impractical. At 560l it offers 20l more boot space than the X1. Different story with the seats folded though - the tapering ceiling of the X2 means a space of 1,470l, compared to the more commodious 1,600l of the wagon-esque X1.

There are two derivatives in the X2 range, with the M Sport regalia being default fitment for both.

Interior is typically BMW with driver-centric feel.
Interior is typically BMW with driver-centric feel.
Image: Supplied

Priced at R879,738, the X2 sDrive18i M Sport packs the familiar turbocharged-petrol, three-cylinder unit, displacing 1,499cc. It is linked to a seven-speed automatic, with drive sent to the front wheels.

For the more performance-minded buyer, the X2 M35i would hold appeal, provided they are willing to spend the extra outlay required. It costs R1,223,936 and boasts all-wheel drive and a 1,995cc turbocharged-petrol engine with four cylinders. Like with the sDrive18i M Sport, a seven-speed automatic is on duty.

As is the case with the BMW range, a five-year/100,000km maintenance plan and two-year/unlimited mileage warranty are included.

We drove both examples on the launch and started off with the more potent X2 M35i. Visually, its catalogue of items is quite complementary to the edgy basic shape of the model. A more aggressive body-kit and serious rolling stock in the form of 21-inch wheels endows the M35i with true presence.

Behind the wheel, buyers will find an identical layout to that of the X1, which is a good thing. The execution is minimalistic, but inviting, with the user-friendly (once you get used to it) BMW infotainment system running the latest operating platform in the stable of the brand. Dropping a few cogs to merge safely onto the freeway, the plucky engine acoustics took us by surprise.

It sounds as spirited as the exterior would have you think, while the flexibility afforded by the quoted 233kW/400Nm facilitates confident overtaking. The M35i has a zesty, energetic feel, with a surefooted handling character and typical all-wheel drive grip. According to BMW, the model will dash from standstill to 100km/h in 5.4 seconds if you launch it right.

Rear execution may divide viewpoints.
Rear execution may divide viewpoints.
Image: Supplied

So, obviously not quite M2 territory, but owners will be able to hold their ground when bullied by the usual hot hatchback contenders. After a halfway break and some lunch, we swapped into the more docile sDrive18i M Sport. Rather glaring is the fitment of smaller wheels (19-inch). But most are not going to be able to pin-point the subtler aspects of the exterior ensemble. They will still find it impressive that you own a new BMW X2.

Expectedly, the three-cylinder model brings a more leisurely driving experience. But the punch of 115kW/230Nm is sufficient for average requirements, with the expected benefits of superior economy versus the more powerful, larger-engined sibling.

We all have different tastes – and never before has the premium car market offered such a breadth of options for Mzansi customers.

The X2 is funky thing, with overt dazzle that is tempered by the good substance we praised the standard X1 for. Buyers' preferences will determine if the bragging rights justify the greater asking price over its sibling.

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