Car reviews - BMW - X2 - xDrive20d
Punchy mid-range performance, intelligent automatic transmission, sporty handling, stylish exterior design, premium interior materials
Room for improvement
Expensive, some options should be standard, firm standard ride, tight rear headroom and shoulder-room, obvious off-the-line turbo lag
Is BMW’s X2 xDrive20d another small SUV that priorities style over substance?
6 Mar 2019
UNLESS you’ve been living under a rock, you’d know that small SUVs have become all the rage in recent times. The momentum here has become so strong that some car-makers have moved to field multiple models in the same segment. Just let that sink in for a moment.
BMW is one such example in the premium market, with it recently adding the X2 to its product line-up that already features the mechanically related X1. Just like Audi with its Q2, the X2 is a style-focused affair that BMW hopes will bring a slew of new buyers to the brand.
The X1 is a strong effort in the first place, so it remains to be seen what, other than style, the X2 does better to justify its existence. Does it actually have something more to offer, or is it another case of style over substance? We test the X2 in flagship xDrive20d form to find out.
Price and equipment
Priced from $59,900 before on-road costs, the xDrive20d includes Orbit Grey 19-inch 722 M alloy wheels wrapped in 225/45 Dunlop Sport Maxx run-flat tyres, dusk-sensing LED headlights with cornering lights, LED daytime running lights, front LED foglights, Frozen Grey and high-gloss black exterior trim, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a power-operated tailgate and an M rear spoiler as standard when equipped with the no-cost M Sport X package on test here. There is no denying that BMW has absolutely nailed the X2’s exterior styling, with it taking on a fresh, youthful look for a brand that has a history of holding onto dated designs for a little too long.
Inside, a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, voice control, satellite navigation with live traffic, digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, one USB port, two 12V power outlets, a six-speaker sound system with a 100W amplifier, a 5.7-inch multi-information display, front sport seats, dual-zone climate control, keyless start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, LED ambient lighting, an M Sport steering wheel, an Anthracite roofliner and M-branded scuff plates feature.
Our test car is finished in Black Sapphire metallic paintwork, which is an $1190 option. It also has Oyster perforated Dakota leather upholstery with grey contrast stitching ($1950) and high-gloss black interior trim with Pearl Chrome trim finishers (no extra cost). As such, the price as tested is $63,040.
However, the xDrive20d is already an expensive proposition before you begin to consider all the equipment it should have. Specifically, the $2600 Innovations (adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, head-up display) and $2700 Comfort (power-adjustable front seats with lumbar support, memory functionality and heating; keyless entry) packages should be standard instead of optional.
If you’ve spent any time in the X1’s cabin before, then the X2’s won’t come as much of a surprise – it is, more or less, a carbon-copy … if you ignore its fresh instrumentation and iDrive infotainment. Thankfully, this is good news, because the X1 doesn’t disappoint inside, and neither does the X2.
In keeping with its premium expectations, the X2 uses soft-touch materials for its entire dashboard and door trims, excluding their lowest sections. This is further enhanced by faux stitching on the former and the leather-covered central storage bin lid.
Optional Oyster perforated Dakota leather upholstery with grey contrast stitching adorns most other surfaces in our test car, while no-cost high-gloss black trim is contrasted with Pearl Chrome trim finishers to add an extra dose of luxury.
These premium ambitions are let down, however, by the 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment display that is framed by horrifyingly thick black bezels that accentuate its small size. The optional 8.8-inch unit, which should be standard, fares much better in this regard. Apple CarPlay costs extra, too.
The dashboard and centre stacks can be a little awkward to look at initially, with their intertwined floating, curvaceous designs eventually growing in appeal over time. Nonetheless, ergonomics are fantastic, with every control within arm’s reach for the driver.
Compared to the X1, the X2 measures in at 4360mm long (-79mm), 1824mm wide (+3mm) and 1526mm tall (+72mm) with a 2670mm wheelbase. It also has a generous 470L of cargo capacity (-35L), but this can expand to 1355L (-195L) when its 40/20/40 split-fold second row is stowed.
However, rear headroom and shoulder-room are quite tight for most adults, of which two can sit in the three-seat row in relative comfort on shorter journeys. Children fare much better in the rear pews, although legroom for occupants of any size is impressive behind our 184cm driving position.
Engine and transmission
The xDrive20d is motivated by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine that features a particulate filter and produces 140kW of power at 4000rpm and 400Nm of torque from 1750rpm to 2500rpm. An eight-speed Aisin torque-converter automatic transmission with paddle shifters sends drive to all four wheels via BMW’s xDrive system with variable torque split and an electronic differential lock.
As a result, the 1521kg (tare mass) xDrive20d can sprint from standstill to 100km/h in 7.7 seconds while on the way to its top speed of 221km/h. While these marks are quite respectable for a small SUV, the xDrive20d doesn’t quite hustle off the line the way you would expect it to. A noticeable delay serves as a precursor to its purposeful mid-range performance that coincides with the turbo finally spooling up.
As such, things start to move more rapidly from the first instance of maximum torque to the fleeting moment of peak power. The 2.0-litre unit doesn’t have much to offer elsewhere, giving the driver no reason to explore its limits. Thankfully, the eight-speeder is both smooth and intelligent, helping to ensure the engine stays right where it needs to be. That being said, it does hesitate for a split second when full throttle is applied, eventually kicking down a gear or two.
Three driving modes – Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport – allow the driver to alter engine and automatic transmission settings while on the move. In reality, the differences between this trio are negligible. Moving the gear selector over to Sport, however, noticeably changes matters. The eight-speeder becomes much keener, keeping the engine in its performance window while still being able to settle down when cruising at highway speeds.
Partly thanks to its idle-stop system, the xDrive20d’s claimed fuel consumption on the combined cycle test is 5.1 litres per 100 kilometres, while its carbon dioxide emissions have been tested at 134 grams per kilometre. During our week with it, we are averaging 7.1L/100km across a run heavily skewed towards city driving over highway stretches. Given the xDrive20d achieved 5.7L/100km on the urban cycle when under test, our result is rather high.
Ride and handling
The xDrive20d rides on an M Sport suspension consisting of MacPherson front and multi-link independent rear axles, while its power steering is electric with a linear ratio. Given its sporting brief, the X2 demonstrably priorities handling over ride comfort.
While our test car’s 19-inch alloy wheels certainly do not help matters, the xDrive20d proves to be tiring when uneven roads with potholes and speed bumps are part of the daily commute. Most, if not all, imperfections are felt by every occupant.
This is very well and good when driving a sportscar, but the X2 is an SUV. You know, a ‘family’ vehicle. Previous experience shows us that the optional adaptive dampers are well worth the $400 spend, improving ride comfort to a much higher level.
Nonetheless, there is a trade-off here, and it’s a good one if having one of the better-handling SUVs is important to you. Maybe it’s because the X2 is more like a regular hatchback than the high-riding crossover it is marketed as, but it sure puts most of its rivals to shame.
Throw the X2 around a tight corner and its body roll is almost imperceptible, encouraging the driver to push harder and harder. A hint of understeer is noticeable in some circumstances, but it is mainly well-balanced. The xDrive system ensures these is plenty of grip at all times.
The X2’s steering is a touch on the heavier side but still manageable, while feel is decent, even if it is a little contrived. Undoubtedly, hydraulic set-ups are much more communicative, but this electric effort stands up. Besides, in hand, the xDrive20d’s steering wheel is one of the best in the business.
Safety and servicing
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the entire X2 range a five-star safety rating in February 2018. It scored 90, 87 and 74 per cent in the Adult, Child and Pedestrian Protection tests respectively, while Safety Assist category received 70 per cent.
Standard advanced driver-assist systems in the xDrive20d extend to forward collision warning, low-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, high-beam assist, speed limit recognition, cruise control, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, and park assist. It should be noted that the AEB system does not bring the X2 to a complete stop, instead just slowing it down.
Other safety equipment includes six airbags (dual front, side and curtain), anti-lock brakes (ABS), brake assist, cornering brake control, dynamic stability and traction control, hill-start assist and hill-descent control.
As with all BMW models, the X2 comes with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, including three years of roadside assistance.
Service intervals are every 12 months or 25,000km, whichever comes first. Capped-priced servicing is available for up to 10 years or 200,000km. For example, a five-year/80,000km period starts from $1395 for the X2.
At the start of this review, we asked if the X2 is another example of style over substance in its SUV segment. The answer? Yes … and no. It looks really good and attacks corners with intent, but the xDrive20d’s engine performance is heavily dependent on its automatic transmission being in Sport.
The X2’s exterior execution carries across to its interior, which does justice to its premium origins. However, adult-sized rear occupants are in for a tough time if three abreast, with space lost in the second row instead found in the cargo area, which is more than generous in this class.
Nonetheless, the xDrive20d’s greatest downfall is its pricing and specification. The former is way too high, while the latter is not high enough. If it had a better value proposition, the X2 would be a tempting buy. Thankfully, this is something BMW can address quite easily in the future.
Audi Q2 40 TFSI quattro (from $49,400 before on-road costs)
Another stylish affair in this segment, the Q2 has a comfortable ride and handles well. Its packaging is also a strong point, but standard specification holds it back alongside its lack of rear air vents.
Mercedes-Benz GLA220d (from $52,100 before on-road costs)
Another sluggish off-the-line turbo-diesel performer, the GLA offers strong fuel efficiency and a generous list of standard features, but its second-row headroom leaves a lot to be desired.
Mini Countryman Cooper SD All4 (from $53,900 before on-road costs)
Another of the X1’s mechanical cousins, the Countryman is one of the best-handling small SUVs that money can buy, complete with signature quirks, but performance is blunted by its extra weight.
Model release date: 1 March 2018
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