BMW's new crossover: We drive the new SA-bound X2

Lisbon - Crossovers are incredibly popular; many people would prefer a car that rides like a hatchback but sports the looks and practicality of an SUV. And I believe BMW have done just that with its new X2 launched in Portugal.

On a drive on slippery roads that hug the Lisbon coastline at the end of January I spent enough time behind the wheel of the X2 to realise you’ll want to drive it spiritedly.

Two models will be offered (sDrive20i and xDrive20d) when the range arrives in Mzansi at the end of February 2018. I drove the xDrive20d M Sport X model on narrow roads faced with oncoming Mercedes-Benz trucks and for once was perhaps thankful for the light steering in a BMW but more on that later...

The X2 offers a fresher approach with styling cues that blend it closer to a hatchback than a crossover. It’s a hatchcross or as BMW calls it a 'sports activity vehicle'. 

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A gaping front lower air dam looks as if it will scoop a helluva lot of plankton. It has huge wheel arches that can be filled with wheel sizes ranging from 18" to 21". All-wheel drive is standard on the diesel-powered model and the 140kW/400Nm is channelled via an 8-speed automatic gearbox (due to the extra torque). The petrol model uses the latest 7-speed dual clutch. BMW's latest generation gear-lever also features. 

Connoisseurs of the brand will notice the badge on the C-pillar references legendary coupes such as the 2000 CS and 3.0 CSL. 

BMW says it’ll seat five people and the X2 has a 470-litre boot (20 litres more than its cousin the Mini Countryman). I have an inkling 1-Series owners may be tempted to trade-up and do without compromising their style. 

Take out the measuring tape and the X2 is just over 1.8m wide and 4.3m long, it loses out to main rivals from the Jaguar (E-Pace) and Volvo (XC40) in the latter two dimensions. 

The X2 has a ground clearance of 18cm, with the Jag and Volvo both clearing the ground at 20cm and 21cm respectively.   

Image: Supplied

Inside, it’s a great place to be. Our test unit had smart-looking alcantara-clad seats and a dash closely related to other BMW SUVs. A 16.5cm screen is standard on all models, a bigger (22cm) touchscreen is added if you spec navigation. Media platforms like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are optional extras, (the latter worked seamlessly when I connected my phone). Head-up display can be ticked off on the options list, a first in this segment says BMW. 

All the cars at the launch sported BMW’s new hue: galvanic gold metallic. A nice touch is the micro hexagon fabric anthracite/ alcantara combination in black with M piping and yellow contrast stitching. 

Navigating along Lisbon’s highways I drove the X2 in its softest ‘comfort’ mode. It felt cushy and composed. But once we were out of the city on some tight, twisty ‘B-roads’ I activated sport mode and coerced the car to get its dynamic personality to the fore. 

And now on that steering. But, and yes there’s a but, the ‘on-centre’ steering feel is too light for a BMW. Now I’m not asking the X2 to steer like an M2, but it would be great to have some feeling. 

Optional gearshift-paddles were on the test model and they can create the illusion that you’re driving in a sportier manner, but the truth be told the 8-speeder is sublime doing its own work. 

Why build an X2? Well BMW need to keep up with the growing demand for crossovers and SUVs. Does the package work? Yes, it looks good, well-built and is feature rich. Plus, its got the badges (I’m counting the C-pillar one too) to make wealthy millennials and (downsizing) boomers take notice.

Where BMW failed to flog its 2-Series Active Tourer, South Africans prefer SUVs over premium MPVs, the X2 will no doubt sell well.


New standard equipment: 

• Apple Car Play 
• Business Navigation 
• BMW ConnectedDrive Services 
• Real Time Traffic Information (RTTI) 
• Metallic Paint 
• Wireless Charging 
• TeleServices 
• Intelligent Emergency Services 
• Cruise Control with Brake Function 

Disclaimer: Sean Parker was hosted by BMW South Africa for this event

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