There’s an increasing number of small luxury SUV’s out there ranging from the Audi Q3, Jaguar E-Pace, Mercedes-Benz GLA and the Lincoln MKC. Now, even though BMW has an already extensive SUV line-up, it is joining that group with a new model but with all these alphanumerics being bandied about let me remind you that in Munich terminology ‘M’ means fast, ‘X’ means SUV, odd numbers indicate four doors and even numbers are reserved for coupes. Right then, but what we have here is the X2 (which sits, of course, between the X1 and X3) and although that even number suggests it should be a coupe-like vehicle, that roofline isn’t nearly as swoopy as that of the X4 or X6... Hmm, confused? Just think of the even number model as representing the sleeker, more stylish version of the odd. Therefore, as the 4 Series Gran Coupe represents a sexier alternative to the 3 Series saloon, this aggressive X2 will try to convince potential X1 buyers to move up the ranks. But, is it good enough to do so? Considering it’s based on that front-wheel drive model but is sportier, more refined and more interesting to drive, you can guess the answer.

The X2 has the ability to stand out thanks to its exterior; the design combines the fast-moving body language and low-slung proportions of a coupe with the robust construction of a BMW X model. It’s shorter and lower than the X1 but shares the same wheelbase while the kidney grille has the familiar trapezoidal shape (but is wider at the base than the top; it’s effectively been inverted and looks good) giving the model an expressive, dynamic demeanour. The surfaces along the sides have been simplified and the wheel arches look a bit Countach to me (that’s a good thing) and for the first time on a X model, the badges are placed on the pillars reminiscent of legendary 2000 CS and 3.0 CSL. It makes a confident impression in its class but our M Sport X tester takes that further thanks to the stunning Galvanic Gold metallic paint, 19in double spoke wheels and specially designed cladding inserts in Frozen Grey.

 

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Photos: Stefan Lindeque

Passengers gets the same leg room and hip room as they do in the X1 but since this one is shorter, luggage capacity is reduced a tad; you get 611 litres with the rear seats up and 1,418 litres with the rear seats folded down (the X1 has 767 and 1,662 respectively) but it’s got more room than the GLA (1,183 litres) and the Q3 (1,364 litres). The raised seating position affords you very good outward visibility and as you’d expect from BMW the cabin is very smart and loaded with tech and kit. Some of the highlights include Micro Hexagon fabric with Alcantara Anthracite in combination with yellow contrast stitching, a free-standing 6.5in infotainment display, the familiar iDrive rotary controller and optional head-up display. It also has Active Cruise Control with Stop and Go function, Lane Departure Warning, Speed Limit Info with No Passing Info display, High Beam Assistant, Collision Warning and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function.

The chassis has been tuned to deliver sportier performance; the M Sport X suspension reduces ride height by 10mm, has a more negative camber than the X1, stiffer bushings, firmer springs and dampers and you can choose between Comfort or Sport modes. Power comes from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a seven-speed automatic (the M Sport X gets a sportier version that shifts faster and gets steering wheel mounted paddles) sending the 192 horses to all four corners via a Haldex system. Indeed, the improved grip that all-wheel drive provides delivers engaging handling; you can push it hard in the corners and it’ll remain glued to the road. It weighs 1,535kg but is nimble and responsive, the crisp acceleration confidently allows you to tackle all the usual highway maneuvers while the steering is pretty direct and it turns in sharper than the X1.

 

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Photos: Stefan Lindeque

It should have been tricky creating a car within a segment you have no experience in but BMW has done it, and done it really well. This is a fresh and brash compact model that won’t just meet customers’ urban expectations, it’ll surpass them. Sure, there are cheaper alternatives to be had — but if you’re willing to swap a little practicality for style, then the X2 is waiting.

 

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