Thursday 20 June 2019

BMW does the maths with the new X2 but does it all really add up for latest niche crossover?

First drive in Lisbon: BMW X2

Segment buster: BMW x2
Segment buster: BMW x2
BMW x2
The interior is smart and comfortable
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

I wasn't great at maths but a patient teacher taught me how to do division with some small degree of success. Maybe it is a reflection of my character and life but I seem to be better at dividing than multiplying.

I think my old teacher would have watched how BMW do 'sub-division' with great interest. Basically, they have taken a few of what we used to call segments - 3 Series, 5 Series, 7-series - and split them into many more, each sub-division spawning different takes and niche cars.

Now they have ranges starting with the 1 Series and going all the way to the 8 Series (including SAVs, coupes, cabrios, M-performance and so on).

They still have one or two in-fill areas but are moving quickly to sort those too.

The interior is smart and comfortable
The interior is smart and comfortable

Which is why I went to Lisbon to drive the latest segment-buster, the X2 sports activity coupe.

It is largely based on the X1, costs (for now) from €50,320 (xDrive20d SE, 190bhp) and is due early March.

There are SE, Sport, M Sport and M Sport X trim levels but just the one engine - xDrive20d - to start with. Others, such as the sDrive20i, sDrive18d and xDrive18d, will come on stream later but can be ordered from March 10.

Significantly, they will also lower the entry-level price to around €43,000 - and should be here by summer.

So how does it shape up? It's quite a bit lower than I realised, making it an easy transition from a posh hatch. Rivals include the Audi Q3, Jaguar E-Pace and Mercedes GLA.

With a length, width and height of 4360mm, 1821mm and 1526mm respectively, it is the same width but 49mm shorter and 69mm lower than the second-gen X1.

Both cars have a 2,670mm wheelbase and will be produced alongside each other.

The inside shares many X1 elements too. Because the engines are mounted transversely, they claim the X2 can accommodate up to five adults. Not really. Decent room for two at the back (despite a 40/20/40 layout).

The boot's okay: its 470 litres is 35 fewer than the X1 (because it has a longer rear overhang).

Not to get too complicated but to emphasise the 'sub-division' theme, the X2 is based on BMW's UKL platform - the same structure under the 2 Series Active Tourer and Gran Tourer as well as the current range of MINIs. And, wait for it, the UKL will also underpin the third-generation 1 Series hatchback.

I've liked the look of it since first seeing it at the Paris Motor Show in 2016 as a concept, and they seem to have done little to alter it in production, which means it is one of the smartest looking BMWs around. A real sign of a bit of verve in design. There's a reason for that. They want lots of younger people to buy one.

But they won't turn you away if you don't fit that category either. Some of their experts were saying mature people downsizing from a larger car are targets too.

I wasn't that impressed with it on the first leg of my twisty drive. Handling and ride felt on the solid side of sporty but I don't expect too many to push on that hard.

The suspension on M Sport and M Sport X models is standard and has firm spring and damper settings as well as sitting 10mm lower.

Spec on the M Sport includes 19in alloys, LED headlights, front LED fog lights, M Sport suspension, Sport/heated front seats, two-zone air con, cruise control, park distance control, Bluetooth hands-free, BMW ConnectedDrive (Emergency Call, Online Services etc), drive performance and 6.5in control display with sat nav.

The return journey was much more to my liking; maybe as it was over smoother, quicker roads. It gave a better flavour of the tautness and feedback you look for in a car like this. It is tuned to a stronger damping system, I feel, which may or may not be to everyone's taste. I'll have to see what it's like on poorer Irish roads.

That might be splitting hairs a bit because, as I regularly say here, most people want cars like this to drive at moderate speed, mostly in urban traffic, longer stints to the country and the most important thing for them is the look of the car and its interior accommodation.

The looks win major points - the interior is smart and comfortable without doing anything revolutionary.

Call it a formula, if you like, but it has worked on other sub-divisions and there is every reason to expect this to add up too.

Indo Motoring

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