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Driven: BMW X2 to broaden buyer base

2 to tango: It may share a lot with the X1 but BMW is going for a sportier look and feel with the new X2.

Up to two-thirds of all BMW X2 consumers set to be new to the company

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BMW logo2 Mar 2018

BMW Australia says that about around two-thirds of X2 customers will be fresh to the marque, as the brand strives to push its ratio of SUV-to-passenger-vehicle sales from about 55 per cent today to 65 per cent by 2020.

On sale now from $55,900 before on-road costs for the front-wheel-drive sDrive20i, the German-built Audi Q2, Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Infiniti QX30 and just-unveiled Lexus UX rival is the latest in the burgeoning family of X-badged BMWs.

The five-seater backs up the freshly launched and redesigned X3, second-generation X4 due mid-year, and the fourth iteration of the X5 as well as its all-new X7 seven-seater off-shoot set for launch in 2019.

According to BMW Australia chief executive officer, Marc Werner, these and other models will help drive sales growth and cement the company’s position as a leader in the premium SUV sector.

“We really want to conquest new customers from the base segment or near-premium segment,” he said. “That is the very clear product and marketing strategy behind launching the new X2.

“When it comes to substitution, we certainly factor in that there will be a little bit of that, which is normal and you cannot avoid that. But the bulk of X2 customers will be new to the brand. Our internal assumption will be 60 to 70 per cent.” Mr Werner said the company was focused on increasing its SUV sales in Australia.

“Going down the road, we believe between 60 to 65 per cent of BMW sales will account for SUV sales, and that’s where our clear focus is. That’s why we are so heavily focused not only on bringing in the X2 but also the X7… it is spot-on for the Australian market.

“We have been calling 2018 the year of the X vehicle because of the renewal of the X range... we are launching today the X2 and the X3 was launched in December, and the X4 is coming in June… and we are starting production of the new X7 in Spartanburg early next year.

“Full availability of all the new X cars – X5, X6 and X7 in particular. And given that with the X2 and now with the X7 we have two new cars in the X product line-up that we didn’t have previously, we should see incremental sales which will then assist to really get up to 65 per cent (SUV penetration).” Known internally as the F39, the X2 will initially be available in single-specification front-wheel-drive sDrive20i guise, before being joined by the entry-level FWD sDrive18i and all-wheel-drive turbo-diesel xDrive20d in June.

Price and specification details are not yet out for these, but given that the mechanically related X1 sDrive20i equivalent is $2300 cheaper, expect the X2 sDrive18i and xDrive20d to enter in at about $48,000 and $53,000 respectively.

Based on the BMW Group’s UKL2 transverse-engine FWD/AWD architecture that underpins the X1 compact SUV and 2 Series Active Tourer, as well as the latest Mini line-up, the X2 is pitched as a sleeker, sportier and more dynamic SUV coupe, similar to the X6 and X4.

While the X1 and X2 share the same wheelbase and front/rear tracks (at 2670mm and 1561/2 respectively), there are key dimensional differences between them.

The X2 is 79mm shorter (4360mm long), 69mm lower (1543mm) and 3mm wider (1824mm). Proportions are affected too, with 12mm more front overhang but 91mm less rear overhang, to help emphasis the newcomer’s more coupe-like styling. Boot volume falls 35 litres to 470L, or 195L to 1355L with the split/fold rear backrests dropped.

One pleasing X2 gain is hot-formed steel for the front doors, which is said to be far more dent-resistant than the sheet steel found on the X1. The whole body is 10 per cent more rigid too, with less flexing as a result of additional underbody bracing, and more aerodynamic too (by 0.1Cd) at 0.28Cd.

The only exterior elements shared between the X1 and X2 are the mirror caps, door handles and antenna.

The X2 adopts the badge roundel in the C-pillars, as per the classic E9 coupes of the late 1960s looking forward, the X2 introduces a new, wider kidney grille design, headlights that sit higher in relation to the grille than in most contemporary models, squarer wheel arches and repositioned sDrive/xDrive badging which have moved from the front guards to tailgate.

For now, the sole sDrive20i variant arrives with a choice of two M Sport packages as standard to help justify that $2300 premium over the X1, however they are touted as ‘no-cost’ items.

M Sport brings a 10mm ride-height cut, mild bodykit (bumpers, side skirts, larger spoilers) and 19-inch alloys inclusive, while the M Sport X also adds contrasting hues to the cladding for a slightly more rugged appearance. Ground clearance is rated at 182mm.

Stepping inside, X2 occupants sit 20mm lower and on redesigned front seats with extra bolstering than in the X1, and so-called ‘black panel’ tech instrumentation makes its debut, but otherwise – range-specific trim and colours aside – the interiors are much the same.

Underneath more profound differences lurk, even though the MacPherson strut-like front and multi-link independent rear end fundamentals remain. The aim is to instil a more athletic character.

Among these are unique springs, shock absorbers and anti-roll bars. The X2 brings BMW-first pre-loaded stabiliser bushings featuring plastic rings, which increase reaction times during cornering and so allow for softer dampers to improve comfort.

The electric steering ditches the X1’s variable ratio for a linear ratio, and it is now 15:1 rather than 16:1 for better response. Adaptive dampers are a $400 option. The X2 is also the first BMW UKL vehicle with 20-inch alloy availability.

Powering the 1535kg sDrive20i is a 2.0-litre direct-injection four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, delivering 141kW of power at 5000rpm and 280Nm of torque between 1350-4600rpm.

The front wheels are driven via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters fitted from Getrag. The average fuel consumption and emissions outputs are 6.0 litres per 100km and 138 grams/km respectively.

As with all xDrive AWDs, the latter gives way to an Aisin-supplied eight-speed torque-converter auto in the 140kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel xDrive20d arriving mid-year, and both hit 100km/h in 7.7 seconds despite the latter weighing in at 1630kg and having an 18km/h slower top speed at 219km/h.

Still, that is 1.9s and 22km/h quicker than the 1490kg sDrive18i, which employs BMW’s lauded 103kW/220Nm 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol and seven-speed dual-clutch combo.

Australian consumption figures for the 18i and 20d are yet to come. The X2 will not be offered with a manual gearbox.

Along with the M Sport packages, all sDrive20is include LED lighting, an electrically operated tailgate, M leather steering wheel, multi-configurable cabin lighting, sports seats, 5.7-inch instrumentation, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, a reversing camera, parking sensors at both ends, lane-departure warning, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking (although not at a full stop).

The X2 has achieved a five-star ANCAP crash-test rating and it is offered with run-flat tyres.

As reported, there are three popular option bundles available – a $2600 Innovations Package, $2700 Comfort Package and $3300 Style Plus Package.

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