Born from a need to keep up with the model proliferation of its Teutonic rivals, the original BMW X2 was more of a statement of intent than anything else when it launched in 2018. Now, the wholly redesigned – and significantly rationalised – X2 is more composed, better looking, and even more desirable.

There was a point not too long ago when several European carmakers seemed to be locked in a never-ending battle for niche one-upmanship that created a boom of unnecessary new models based on existing platforms. While some of these new niche cars made sense, several did not and have duly been relegated to the history books as good examples of cars that never should have been. We can’t help but think of the BMW 2-Series Active Cruiser here.

However, the significantly less peculiar first-generation BMW X2 compact SUV was destined for greater things, selling over 390,000 units for the German automaker – enough to prompt the reinvestment into a second-generation car. 


Essentially a coupé version of the BMW X1, the X2 is slightly larger (taller by 64 mm and longer by 54 mm) than its X1 stablemate, with a wider track (by 21 mm) and a longer wheelbase (by 22 mm). 

It is also a fair amount larger than its predecessor, boasting an overall length of 4.5 metres that is 194 mm longer than before, and standing 64 mm taller than the first-gen car. The significant size difference means it can also carry up to 115 litres more luggage than the older version.

BMW has also ensured that the evolved styling of the X2 is now more in line with the rest of the range. Although the angular look of the previous X2 had its charm, the sleeker second-generation design is handsomely sculpted and beautifully refined. I do, however, miss the BMW roundels that were found on the C-pillar of the original X2 but have been axed from the new car. 


As with the new 5 Series sedan range launched earlier this year, BMW has rationalised the X2 line-up to only two variants. In the case of the X2, both are petrol-powered and include the X2 sDrive18i M Sport and X2 M35i xDrive.

The entry-level sDrive18i is powered by a 1.5-litre turbo three-cylinder powerplant with a power output of 115 kW and torque figure of 230 Nm. Coupled with a seven-speed torque converter gearbox, the surprisingly sporty entry-level Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) is expected to reach the 100 km/h mark in 9.0 seconds.

For an even brisker sprint, choose the M35i xDrive, which employs a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo that delivers the zero to 100 km/h sprint in a hurried 5.4 seconds, thanks to the M-badged SAV doubling up on the power to 233 kW, with a torque output of 400 Nm.

The M35i send its power to all four wheels via BMW’s xDrive system, while the sDrive18i is front-wheel-driven.

While BMW’s justification for downsizing the offerings on several of its model ranges makes sense in a country with an already staggering number of model derivatives compared to the overall size of our market, it is unfortunate that a diesel option has been axed from the new X2, and that the all-electric iX2 has officially been ruled out for South Africa. If you’re desperate for turbodiesel power, the brilliant X1 will have to do, or opt for the iX1 if a compact BMW EV experience is what you’re after.


Beyond its sophisticated looks and keen drive, the new X2 is a showpiece for BMW’s safety and comfort tech. All new X2s ship standard with the M Sport package with M Sport Package Pro as an option. The latter adds an illuminated kidney grille for the first time in this segment, an M-specific front splitter and rear spoiler, M-styled exterior mirrors, 21″ Y-spoke bi-colour alloys, and an M-specific quad exhaust system.

The good news continues inside, where BMW has raised the bar with significant interior styling and driver assistance systems upgrades. The optional Driving Assistant Professional and Parking Assistant Plus features are worth a mention here. The former brings several semi-autonomous systems to the lower end of the BMW SAV spectrum, while the latter adds must-haves such as a drive recorder (similar to a dashcam) and theft recorder with a remote 3D view from the My BMW app.


We tested both models during our launch drive in Gauteng, with the range-topping M35i in Frozen Blue (one of two new colour options from BMW), and with the M Sport package Pro optioned, the car to have if you desire some show with your go.

Testing it over varying terrain, the M35i proved its BMW heritage in every way by balancing aural sensation with a firm yet supple ride quality. Although the large wheels definitely contribute to its firmness (we would have preferred the smaller 19″ wheels), the ride was not harsh at any point. Another typical BMW trait is the beautifully weighted steering that adapts to whichever drive mode you dial in.

Although less powerful, the sDrive18i is no less satisfying to drive. Yes, having all-wheel-drive on the range-topper means you can confidently explore the car’s cornering limits, our experience with the front-wheel-drive X2 suggests it is spot-on in its segment and compares favourably to rivals with similar dimensions and power outputs.


Eye-catching looks and keen tech aside, the new X2 is best experienced for yourself. While we love the X1, its coupé-like sibling feels more like a sporty hatchback to drive than a typical crossover. And, at a starting price of R879,740, it is equally easy on the pocket.



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