New Gold on the Road: The All-New BMW X2

The evolution of an automaker’s vehicle lineup can’t be an easy thing to manage. Fortunately, when an automaker offers a wide range of vehicles, it can experiment with several evolutionary lines at the same time.

BMW’s all-new X2 takes the pride of Bavarian manufacturing in the direction of low-slung crossovers, and the results are striking.

First impressions

BMW chose its all-new X2 to debut a distinctive new colour. Opinions were divided on Galvanic Gold, though most people seemed to like it. Extroverts may love it. It certainly made the X2 stand out from any crowd wherever I took it. (The paint is an extra option, as are other things I’ll mention in the review. I won’t distinguish between standard equipment and extras each time I speak of these features.)

Less obvious was the modified twin kidney grill. BMW turned it upside down on the X2 so the wide parts of the trapezoids occurs at the base of the grill. A black strip of trim encircles the X2’s lower body, reminding onlookers that it can handle moderately rough terrain and weather.

The body shape benefits from a shorter wheelbase and stance than those of the X1. While attractive, the proportions and short overhangs didn’t do much to improve u-turn performance on tight city streets.

The cabin windows “close in” towards the rear while the lower portion stays straight, a design decision that gives the body rear haunches. The crowning touch may be the BMW roundel on each of the C-pillars, drawing attention to the steeper rear window and spoiler. BMW is justified in claiming the X2 gives off a coupe vibe. (My words, not BMW’s.)

image courtesy BMW

Interior

Heated power seats accommodated me well. Thankfully, Germans understand how to cater to tall people. The panoramic moonroof proved no bother when I sat the seat back up straight.

image courtesy BMW

The back seat proved a little tight according to the one passenger who sat back there.

image courtesy BMW

There’s a baseline for luxury and comfort in BMWs and the X2 doesn’t disappoint. The impression comes from leather touches in various places, side bolsters on the sport seats, heated leather M steering wheel, subtle 6-colour ambient lighting strips, and other design elements.

Hockey bag test

The hockey bag fits in the hatch with enough room for a couple of computer bags. (These latter I kept in the hatch’s hidden underfloor, even though it also has a privacy cover.) I folded down the middle portion of the 40-20-40 split-folding rear seat to poke the sticks through to the back seat.

In-cabin technology

One thing that doesn’t require evolutionary change is the infotainment system control array, the iDrive Controller dial/button/joystick/touchpad (plus 7 surrounding buttons) that I don’t even need to look at. They run the Control Display so well I rarely feel the need to use it as a touchscreen.

image courtesy BMW

Quick aside: This week more than most, I heard people gripe about how infotainment displays like those found in BMWs don’t appear as attractive as those that are set flush into the centre stack. I’ll throw another opinion into the ring. Setups like BMW’s (and BMW is NOT alone in this design choice) where the display looks like a tablet mounted on top of the dashboard are, IMHO, the safest way to incorporate them into the driving environment. You don’t need to divert your eyes as far from the road ahead to glance at the screen. The look might not be as pleasing, but there’s more to a car’s looks than the placement of a screen.

image courtesy BMW

The heads-up display (still optional on many models) is well-organized. It appeared a bit dim when I wore polarized sunglasses due to sunny conditions, but the information was still legible.

Black panel technology sets the instrument cluster apart. The tachometer and speedometer are analog in the X2, but the rest of the cluster is matte black. You don’t see where the screens end. The screen background does not appear at all, even with multiple icons glowing. This is an admittedly subtle touch and BMW has offered this for years, but details like this continue to stand out in my opinion as contributors to high-end fit and finish.

My tester featured an optional wireless phone charger in the centre armrest. You can also plug your phone in the one USB port just below this armrest. That’s what I first used to trigger the (optional) Apple CarPlay. Tunes from my phone, satellite radio and AM and FM radio flowed through the (also optional) Harmon Kardon sound system.

Driving

The 2.0 litre TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder tops out at 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Power comes through effectively in Comfort Mode, the “middle ground” between Sport Mode and Eco Pro Mode (which I call Hyde and Jekyll, respectively). Sport mode delays the upshifts, though you can take over the 8-speed Steptronic transmission using paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel.

image courtesy BMW

I spent most of my time in Eco Mode, confined as I was to the city for most of my week with the X2. It was slower to respond to the accelerator, but the power was still adequate. Regardless of the mode, I appreciated the engine start/stop feature whenever I thought about the next fill-up.

Drive mode aside, the drive experience is what you’d expect – smooth and controlled, a hallmark of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system.

An aside of low importance: BMW shares its infotainment platform with corporate cousin Mini. Both automakers feature the three driving modes, but they “skin” the interfaces differently on the control displays. The Mini look skews towards fun, whereas BMW’s interface is more businesslike. The BMW interface for driving efficiency featured a graphic that wasn’t as easy to interpret as the smiling (or panicked, if that’s how you drive) fish in a bowl you’ll find in a Mini.

Parallel parking is always fun using Park Assistant. It never fails to amaze onlookers when I back a Bimmer into a parallel parking spot without touching the steering wheel.

For all the driving technology thrown into the X2, I confess disappointment that the Premium Package did not include adaptive cruise control. ACC is available for the X2, but it’s a feature I’d like to see on more vehicles regardless of trim level.

Other active safety options include lane departure warning, frontal collision and pedestrian warnings and (one of my favourites) headlights that shine to the side that you indicate using your turn signals. Some features just make perfect sense.

Pricing

BMW lists base MSRP for the all-new 2018 X2 at $42,250. My tester featured the Premium Package, M Sport X Package and several stand-alone options, bringing its MSRP to $54,845 (destination charge not included).

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