Welcome to the Sports Activity Coupe segment – a category which consists of vehicles that combine the attributes of an SUV such as high ground clearance and all-wheel drive technology, with the styling of a coupe.
This niche segment only came into existence about a decade ago, with the controversial BMW X6.
It was nothing like what we had seen before, but the world absolutely loved it. Everyone, from members of the Albanian Mafia right down to the writer’s nerdy but successful chartered accountant neighbour had one.
Despite the reduced practicality from the sloping roof line, these models sold well. Even Mercedes-Benz, which once told Bloomberg that cars of this segment made little sense, joined the bandwagon with their GLE Coupe and GLC Coupe.
Following the success of the X6, BMW introduced the smaller X4 in 2014, aimed at those who wanted a “coupe” version of the X3.
The model that we are seeing here, the X2, is the latest to join the SUV-coupe lineup - or as BMW prefers to call it, the Sports Activity Coupe segment.
First released as a concept at the 2016 Paris Motorshow, the production version made its global debut in October 2017.
Just like what the X4 is to the X3, and the X6 is to the X5, the BMW X2 is a lower, sportier, sleeker, and slightly less practical version of the X1.
Built on BMW’s UKL platform which is shared with the X1, 2-Series Active Tourer, 2-Series Gran Tourer, as well as the entire current MINI lineup, the X2 features a transverse engine architecture, with two engines and three variants available globally – xDrive20d, xDrive25d, sDrive20i.
The Malaysian market only gets the petrol-engined sDrive20i version, powered by the B48 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 192 hp and 280 Nm of torque, which is sent to the front wheels via a new seven-speed wet dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The model which we drove in Lisbon however was the xDrive20d diesel AWD version, which came with the B47 turbo diesel engine kicking out 190 hp and 400 Nm of torque.
Specifications of the BMW X2 xDrive20d
Measuring 4,360 mm long, 1,821 mm wide, and 1,526 mm tall, with a 2,670 mm long wheelbase, the X2 shares the same width and wheelbase length as the X1, but it is 49mm shorter and 69 mm lower than the latter.
Design wise, the X2 oozes style, sportiness, and road presence. On the front end, the new trapezoidal kidney grilles and the sleek headlights with LED DRLs give the crossover an aggressive appearance.
The side-profile is just as sporty, thanks to the side-skirts, squared wheel arches, funky wheels, sleek windows, and the rising beltline which flows seamlessly into the rear.
The X2’s rear, however, is a case of love it or hate it. While many love the muscular stance which is complemented by the broad taillights, some of our colleagues said that it looks like an X1 which got squashed by an elephant.
But overall, what we loved most about the X2’s looks is that it looks fresh and didn’t remind us of any other model in the stable, which is a rare occasion these days.
According to BMW, the X2 will not be offered in BMW's usual Luxury or Sport lines, but only in M Sport and M Sport X trims.
The former comes with 19-inch wheels and black accents on the bumper, while the M Sport X line we drove gets way more visual goodies which includes sportier bumpers with ‘Frozen Grey’ accent, 20-inch wheels, and sporty side skirts.
As fresh and flashy as things were on the outside, the interior of the X2 was a bit of a let-down, as things were kept simple in typical BMW fashion. But that was only as far as the visual appeal was concerned.
There was a decent amount of space, and despite having the same ride height as the X1, the front seats of the X2 are positioned lower than the former’s, translating to a sportier driving position and feel.
In the rear, there was decent amount of leg room, but head room came at a premium due to the lower roof.
Build quality and ergonomics were top notch with all the buttons and levers positioned within reach, complemented by the seamless, easy-to-use iDrive infotainment system, which is still among the best in business.
Equipment wise, a large 8.8-inch touchscreen took centre stage, featuring Navigation Plus, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity, playing audio through its 6-speaker set up. Heads-up display, reverse camera, and Park Distance Control were also fitted as standard on the new X2.
Luggage space is rated at 470 litres, which is 10 litres more than the Audi Q3 and 49 litres more than the Mercedes-Benz GLA, but that’s not all. With the rear seats folded, the X2 offers a maximum boot space of 1,355 litres, which is more than what we expected, to be frank.
In case you’re wondering how much more boot space the X1 offers, it is 35 litres more with seats up (550-litres), and about 200 litres more with the rear seats down (1,550 litres).
Only one model was available during the test-drive session - the X2 xDrive20d powered by the B47 turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel engine, producing 190 hp and 400 Nm of maximum torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox by Aisin and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system.
The version that we get in Malaysia however, is the front-wheel drive X2 sDrive20i, powered by the B48 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine making 192 hp and 280 Nm of torque. The gearbox is also different – a new 7-speed wet dual-clutch automatic transmission by ZF.
The route on which we drove the X2 in Lisbon was about 400 km in total, comprising three sectors – coastal B-roads, narrow town roads with a lot of tight turns and imperfect surfaces, and highways.
The sector which we enjoyed the most in the X2 was definitely the coastal roads. Not only was the scenery to die for, but the roads were quite empty since we were there on a weekday.
After driving for about 20 minutes along the Atlantic ocean, our sentiment was that the X2 felt much more fun than the X1 even though both models share the same platform.
This was due to factors like the seats which are positioned 20 mm lower, which translated into a sportier driving feel as opposed to the X1’s high seating position.
Plus, the X2’s ride height is also lower than the X1 by 10mm. With the centre of gravity positioned lower, it felt noticeably more planted than the X1.
With additional complements from the M Sport suspension, an anti-roll bar, M Sport steering, and the xDrive all-wheel drive system, we got ourselves plenty grip and almost no body roll.
And with 190 hp and 400 Nm of torque at our disposal, we couldn’t help but push the X2 whenever we saw an empty stretch ahead of us because it just felt so eager and yet composed at the same time.
Upon reaching the stretches of narrow hilly roads marked by strings of sharp corners, we got to see what the 8-speed automatic gearbox by Aisin was capable of.
To our surprise, we didn’t feel the need to use the paddle shifters at all, as the transmission was so intuitive that the car was in the right gear at any given time. Power delivery was also adequate and seamless the whole way.
At highway speeds however, noise intrusion was slightly higher than expected.
Throughout our stint with the X2, storing things like our mobile devices, power banks, water bottles, and cigarette boxes was not a problem at all, thanks to the ample storage compartments.
Boot space is enough for a weekend trip of three to four adults. In the boot we had three backpacks and a couple of camera bags with some space left for more. But then again, if you want more space, there's always the X1.
BMW has done it once again. They have taken the capable but rather docile X1 and transformed it into something which is not only sexier, but also more fun to drive. Despite coupe-like styling, the trade-off in cabin space is not that severe. There's enough room for four lanky adult occupants and more boot space than most of its rivals.
The only issue here is the price. Having made its Malaysian debut last week, the BMW X2 is being sold for RM320,800 OTR without insurance.
The masses are obviously not too happy about it because the X2 goes into the “another desirable vehicle which I can’t afford” list for most of us.
Almost every launch post is infested with “Oh, so overpriced… better buy something else” comments, but unfortunately, the reality is that the X2 is not for the masses, just like the X6 and the X4.
You can argue that one is better off with the Mercedes-Benz GLA 200, GLA 250, or even the GLC 200 because they are all cheaper than the X2, but what if you are a “rebel” as BMW puts it?
With GLAs and GLCs running around just about everywhere, the X2 is something which will certainly get a few heads turning and smiles coming towards you. So, if budget is not an issue, why not go the extra mile and be the “cool” one?