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Paris show: BMW unveils near-final X2

Out there: The Concept X2 not only confirms BMW’s intent to offer a coupe-style version of the X1 but is testing the reaction to some “fascinating new design possibilities” in areas such as its front-end styling.

BMW Australia eager to offer all-new crossover as near-production X2 breaks cover

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BMW logo30 Sep 2016

By TERRY MARTIN

BMW is preparing to add an all-new crossover to its line-up and complete the task of offering a coupe-style derivative of each of its three core SUV model lines, presenting a near-production version of its X2 at the Paris motor show this week.

Expected on sale in Australia in 2018, the X2 will follow the X4 and X6 – two successful spin-offs of the X3 and X5 respectively – and offer a sportier alternative to the compact second-generation X1 that was launched here almost 12 months ago.

It will be based on the same UKL platform and share many components with the X1 and other BMW Group models including the upcoming redesigned Mini Countryman.

While noting that it is only a concept at this stage, BMW Group Australia general manager of corporate communications Lenore Fletcher told GoAuto today that the local subsidiary was looking forward to the opportunity to expand its SUV range given the success of its current models.

Industry statistics to the end of August show that BMW’s SUV sales are up 48.6 per cent this year, with the 10,163 sales between the current high-riding quintet making up more than 50 per cent of the German prestige brand’s total sales volume.

The coupe-style derivatives are playing a major role, with X4 accounting for 30 per cent of combined X3/X4 mid-size SUV sales, while X6 has a 12 per cent share of the larger SUV mix shared with X5.

“The opportunity to add an X2 to the line-up is a very attractive one for BMW in Australia,” Ms Fletcher said. “It’s something we’d be very, very happy to have.”

Viewed alongside spy shots of the production version, the five-door ‘Concept X2’ shown in Paris has virtually identical proportions that come to life from all angles.

The profile view emphasises its sporting intent with its long wheelbase, short overhangs, heavily raked windscreen, elongated roofline (with protruding high-mounted rear spoiler), large wheelarches (housing 21-inch light-alloy wheels) and narrow glass areas down the flanks that taper off to a muscular rear shoulder section described as a dynamic interpretation of the brand’s classic ‘Hofmeister kink’ design.

Time will tell whether the production version will retain the striking front-end treatment of the Paris show car, which is dominated by a new take on the double kidney grille – widening from top to bottom, which is a reversal of conventional wisdom, with thick-slatted vertical bars angled to give a ‘shark’s nose’ effect – and large air intakes that help impart a low-slung look.

BMW Group Design senior vice-president Adrian van Hooydonk said the concept “displays a new and exciting facet of the BMW brand within the compact segment” while head of BMW Design Karim Habib said the X2 combines “the fast-moving body language and low-slung proportions of a coupe with the robust construction of an X model”.

“This is a sporty vehicle with a bold character, and it allows us to open up some fascinating new design possibilities for the BMW brand,” Mr Habib said.

The cabin design remains off-limits to the general public for now and specifications such as dimensions and powertrains, for both the concept and production series, are likewise still being withheld.

There will be close similarities with the X1, which sits on a 2670mm wheelbase and has a 4439mm overall length, 1821mm width and 1598mm height.

The Australian X1 model range is offered in four variants covering 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol and diesel power and 4x2 and 4x4 drivelines, all combining with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Pricing starts from $51,600 plus on-road costs for the entry 141kW/280Nm sDrive20i two-wheel-drive petrol, rising to $49,500 for the 110kW/330Nm 18d 2WD diesel.

The 140kW/400Nm 20d AWD oil-burner is positioned further upstream from $56,500, with the 170kW/350Nm AWD 25i petrol at the top of the field from $59,900.

The X4, meanwhile, attracts a premium of $8615 over the equivalent X3 at the entry level, but there is plenty of incentive in terms of specification for prospective buyers to consider. At the top end, it also offers higher-performance petrol and diesel variants to underline its sporting intent.

The SUV six-pack across small, medium and large segments might now look complete with the imminent X2, but BMW is continuing to study new market niches to eke out further sales growth.

As GoAuto has reported, BMW senior vice-president of Asia-Pacific and South Africa Hendrik von Kuenheim indicated to Australian journalists last year that more X-badged models were on the way.

“If we don’t offer choice, you might start losing,” he said. “The question is: what is the next big niche? There are two more X models coming in the very near future, just because the consumer trend has gone that way.”

As well as X2, the other SUV alluded to here is the seven-seat X7 due around the same timeframe.

Ms Fletcher also reiterated today that BMW was “always looking for opportunities” and that you would “never say never” in terms of other new SUVs coming down the pipeline, despite the threat of model range complexity and sales cannibalisation.

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