4.3 out of 5 4.3
Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3

Stylish, jacked-up family car is good to drive, but expensive

BMW X2 SUV Review Video
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At a glance

New price £30,415 - £45,660
Lease from new From £349 p/m View lease deals
Used price £16,020 - £38,245
Used monthly cost From £400 per month
Fuel Economy 33.6 - 166.2 mpg
Road tax cost £140 - £475
Insurance group 22 - 42 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • Distinctive looks
  • Fun to drive
  • Good standard spec
  • Easy to personalise

CONS

  • Smaller boot than X1
  • Less rear seat space too
  • Pricey from the off
  • Limited engine range

BMW X2 SUV rivals

Written by Adam Binnie on

In this review

  1. Introduction 
  2. Practicality
  3. Interior
  4. Comfort
  5. Running costs and mpg
  6. Reliability
  7. Engines and driving
  8. Handling
  9. Safety
  10. Verdict

The onward march of the family-sized SUV shows no sign of slowing down, with the BMW X2 filling a gap within the German firm’s range that few appreciated even existed. It's been designed to appeal to family-car buyers looking for a stylish, less-obviously SUV-shaped car that's good to drive and places looks over interior practicality.

BMW refers to the X2 as a Sports Activity Coupe, essentially a more rakish version of the popular X1 SUV aimed at those who are less likely to prioritise outright practicality, although it does remain a five-door. It’s aimed straight at the likes of the Audi Q2, Mercedes-Benz GLA Jaguar E-Pace and Range Rover Evoque. It's a competitive market, but with lots of buyers out there looking to buy a car like this, it's understandable

Four trim levels for your X2

You can choose between four equipment levels: SE, Sport, M Sport and M Sport X, plus the standalone M35i version. As well as offering different amounts of kit, each spec looks different from the outside too. Base-spec cars feature black external cladding, Sport models get a lighter grey colour with body matched wheearches, while M Sport X gains light-silver elements.

The top two trims also get a 10mm lower ride height, while the most expensive cars benefit from contrasting interior stitching, LED headlights, 19-inch wheels and two zone climate control. Utilitarian is something you'd never accuse the X2 of being.

Keep reading to find out which version we would buy, and how it stacks up against its rivals, all of which set a very high standard indeed.

BMW X2 practicality

  • Less roomy than a BMW X1 but not bad
  • Rear doors open wide but low roof hampers access
  • Lack of glass makes the rear quite dark at times

Rear passenger space is hampered a bit by the sloping roof - once you’re in it’s ok, but the high floor and low ceiling makes getting in and out a bit tricky if you’re tall. Space in the middle pew is also restricted despite a relatively low transmission tunnel, so you’ll want to avoid forcing anyone of lofty proportions into that position.

As you’d expect from the narrow windows, visibility out and back isn’t great, with chunky b-pillars hampering the over the shoulder view and an obscured rear three quarters that necessitates the addition of a reversing camera, or at least use of the standard rear parking sensors.

The BMW X2 is lower and shorter than the X1 upon which it is based, despite sharing the same wheelbase and track. While that means it’s a bit more agile, this is still quite a large car, and makes its size known on narrow roads and winding city streets.

There’s a 12-volt power socket in there, plus underfloor stowage, a storage net and four lashing eyes to help keep things in place. In terms of its rivals the X2 fares well, although the Jaguar E-Pace features a large luggage compartment.

BMW X2 interior

  • Here’s where the BMW X2 SUV really shines
  • Functional and hard-wearing yet stylish interior
  • Lots of bold stitching and trim to lift the ambiance

The interior of the BMW X2 is a real strong point – the seats are big and supportive, and the dashboard is trimmed in a variety of soft-feel, patterned plastics with brightly coloured accents. It sits somewhere between the restraint of an Audi cockpit and a brash-looking Mercedes-Benz cabin, with ergonomics taking a priority over sheer style.

As you’d expect from a driver-focused carmaker like BMW, everything points towards the right-hand seat, with the driver benefitting from great ergonomics as a consequence. Minor controls, such as the hazard-warning switch and electric wondow controls are well within easy reach. Front-seat passengers are looked after, too, with a solid grab handle next to the gearshift for when the going gets rough.

BMW X2 features high quality materials

We’ve only sat in top spec cars so far, which have impressed with the quality of the cabin materials – from the soft-touch dashboard to the hexagonally-patterned fabric and alcantara combo on the seats. Decorative contrast stitching in yellow mirrors the bright gold exterior paint, plus there are some eye-catching options including Magma Red leather and aluminium or grained oak trim pieces.

This is all underpinned by an expected feeling of solidity, particularly in the way all the controls, buttons and switches operate.

Superb driving position

High-riding SUVs often prioritise a lofty driving position against an overtly sporty one, but the X2 manages to strike something of a happy medium if you're someone who enjoys feeling more connected with your car. You can position the driver’s seat nice and low down for a near-hatchback feel, or boost it up to off-roader altitude, and still feel cocooned by the insulating interior. You don't get the commanding view an Evoque or Q3 driver enjoys, but it'll feel 'SUV' enough for most buyers.

The wheel and seat have plenty of adjustment, including a movable thigh-support cushion for the latter. Low-set dials give you a good view forward through the windscreen, and are easy to read thanks to a bold, clear font. Rear visibility is not good at all – so if you're optioning your X2, it makes sense to tick the box marked 'reversing camera' on the configurator.

Interior enhanced by high tech options

Those instruments take the form of a black panel display that not only shows you the engine and road speed, auxiliary functions including the sat nav and media info are also included. This rather minimalist information can be supplemented by an optional head up display, and a central screen measuring either 6.5- or 8.8-inches in the top-spec offering.

The X2's infotainment system is excellent. Supplementing the built-in DAB radio and CD player, the sat-nav with traffic information is user-friendly and very effective. There's no touchscreen, thankfully – all functions handled by shortcut buttons located near the gearstick. If the optional colour head-up display is fitted, important information in projected on the windscreen ahead of you – but it's an expensive extra..

How comfortable is it?

  • Stiffer set up than X1 SUV
  • Firm but well-damped ride
  • Comfortable, supportive seats

The BMW X2 has a sporty ride whether fitted with standard or adaptive suspension, bordering on the uncomfortable on the M Sport-spec cars with their 10mm lowered, stiffened suspension. The most sporting M35i is even firmer, but that is to be expected in a car with its performance potential.

If you're a city dweller or end up encountering potholes on a regular basis, we'd always recommend cars with standard-sized wheels and suspension set-up to maximise the X2's comfort. In town across cobbles and deep-set tram-lines the X2 bobbles rather than crashes, but it certainly makes the surface seem busier than softer rivals, such as the Range Rover Evoque.

If you spend lots of time on the motorway, the M Sport X cars deal with occasional undulating sections with firm-edged composure, and feel very well suited to high-speed running.

Inheriting some of the practicality of the X1 SUV, the X2 features three 12-volt power sockets plus USBs, as well as two cupholders in the front and rear. The driver gets a folding storage compartment, plus large door bins in the front and back. A set of passenger backrest nets offers a convenient place for flat items too.

Upgrade to the M35i performance model and you can specify some seriously supportive bucket seats with grippy bolsters and an inegrated headrest. These are actually very comfortable as well as effective at pinning you in place when you want to push on.

BMW X2 mpg and running costs

  • Very reasonable costs across the board
  • X2 sDrive18d the hero of the range
  • Popular xDrive20d a good all-rounder

In terms of claimed fuel economy the BMW X2’s running costs are much of a muchness – the sDrive18d is the best performer with a official combined figure of 52.3-53.3mpg on offer, while the worst is the sDrive20i with 35.3-37.7mpg.

Pitched right down the middle is the bestselling xDrive20d – this claims 49.6-50.4mpg is possible, although the less powerful all-wheel drive xDrive18d is still cheaper to run.

You can find out how these fuel figures are calculated by reading our handy guide to NEDC and WLTP standards.

Inevitably the X2’s fuel economy is reflected by the amount of CO2 it emits in its various forms, whether petrol, diesel, two- or all-wheel drive. The best car again is the diesel-powered sDrive18d, with 140-143g/km of CO2, and it's also the best all-wheel drive model in this respect too.

Petrol-powered xDrive20i cars are produce the most CO2 in the standard car's range, with 181-169g/km of CO2, from the worst offending M Sport model.

As you'd expect the M35i is the most expensive to run overall, with 336-34mpg and 187-189g/km of CO2 reported.

Is it reliable?

  • Underpinnings shared with X1
  • Engines used across the range
  • Reliability isn't as good as it should be

The BMW X2 is based on tried-and-tested mechanicals from a renowned manufacturer. But, according to Parkers Owner Reviews, the MINI Countryman, which the X2 is so closely based upon, scores an unimpressive average of 3.0 to 3.5 out of five, depending on generation.

There are some concerns that are worth noting. BMW's performance in the 2019 JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study was poor, coming bottom in a list of 24 vehicle manufacturers - including traditional problem child, Fiat. According to JD Power, BMWs encountered 181 problems per 100 vehicles. That compares with Volvo (106), Mercedes-Benz (136) and Audi (167).

BMW X2 engines and driving

  • Just two diesel and three petrol engines
  • Front- and all-wheel drive versions
  • No fully electric version

There aren’t a huge number of engines to choose from in the BMW X2 – just four options, plus the high-performance X2 M35i.

Petrol engines detailed

The entry-level X2 is badged sDrive18i and comes with two-wheel drive only. This is the slowest version of the X2 and takes 9.6 seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph.

If you want an all-wheel drive petrol X2 then the X2 20i is offered with this as an option. Either way it offers broadly the same performance as the diesel-powered 20d version (below), thanks to 192hp and 280Nm of torque. It also takes 7.7 seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph (a tenth faster if you pick the xDrive version) and tops out at a slightly higher 141mph.

Then there's the sporty M35i, featuring a 306hp, 450Nm version of the motor above. This gets you from 0-62mph in just five seconds and onto a limited 155mph. Standard fit xDrive all-wheel drive means you get a a clean launch off the line, and the eight-speed auto (your only option) shifts quickly though its gears. It sounds good too – with a surprising amount of noise coming from the engine bay rather than the exhaust, which will pop and bang in response to a lift of the throttle.

Diesel engines

The most junior diesel engine is the 18d - a similar unit to the 18i petrol in terms of power and performance but with lower running costs. It's also the most flexible in terms of drivetrain choice – you can have it with front- or all-wheel drive, and with a six-speed manual or eight-speed auto gearbox. With 150hp and 350Nm of torque you can expect 0-62mph to take 9.3 seconds (a tenth faster in the AWD car) while the top speed is a whisker under 130mph. We’ve not driven this engine, and while BMW reckons it’ll play second fiddle to the more powerful 20d car in terms of sales, its lower asking price means it’s a strong consideration.

The bestselling X2 is the 20d with 190hp and 400Nm of torque. This means a 0-62mph time of 7.7 seconds and a 137mph top speed. That wide spread of pulling power between 1,500 and 3,000rpm means the 20d feels muscular, if a little breathless at higher revs. Thankfully the eight-speed auto ‘box does an admirable job of keeping the engine on the boil.

How does it handle?

  • Front- and all-wheel drive only
  • Grippy and confident handling
  • Steering is accurate but numb

The X2 remains (relatively) flat while cornering, without resorting to an overly firm ride - a good achievement for a higher-riding SUV. We’ve only driven xDrive cars so far, which felt very sure-footed and confident, but not all that exciting. The 20i and 18d engines are available in front-wheel drive, and this is also the steady-state in the all-wheel drive 20d or 18d models.

These can send up to 50% of engine power rearwards when the X2 starts to sense a loss of grip, but on the whole xDrive cars still feel predominantly front driven. Even so, the X2 corners accurately and the steering has a nice weight to it, plus it’s really accurate and inspires confidence on a fast road.

BMW X2 M35i: another step up in handling prowess

The range-topping M Performance model benefits from lower springs and stiffer dampers, plus a limited slip differential on the front axle to help the car put its power down effectively. While it's not the most involving of cars to drive the X2 can corner at a pace that’ll excite even the most ardent sports car enthusiast.

Larger 18-inch front brakes give good bite and resist fading well, but the steering feels much like the standard car's - most feelsome in its lightest comfort mode, with the sportier setting adding weight but not much else.

Safety

  • BMW X2 tested by Euro NCAP alongside X1 
  • Full five star rating achieved by both cars
  • Good amount of standard kit, options too

The BMW X1 and X2 were tested by Euro NCAP and received a coveted five-star rating, so you should be in safe hands with this latest SUV.

That’s bolstered by a range of standard safety kit, including:

  • Forward vehicle collision warning
  • Autonomous city brake up to 30mph
  • BMW Emergency Call
  • Attentiveness assistant
  • Misfuelling system

Spec the optional Driver Pack and you get the following additions:

  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Park assist
  • Lane departure warning
  • High-beam assist
  • City collision mitigation
  • Preventive pedestrian protection

BMW X2 crash test video

Verdict: Should you buy a BMW X2?

Yes, if you're after a funky SUV that makes a statement, and you're not on a budget. It's quite a cool thing and a seriously polished product, but you certainly pay a premium for those of-the-moment SUV looks. Desirable xDrive20d versions cost as much as a Volkswagen Golf R hatchback, which also comes with all-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox, plus a bigger boot. The M35i model, while offering the same performance as the Golf, is substantially more expensive.

Those on a budget will appreciate the low running costs of the sDrive18d – its two-wheel drive and manual-gearbox availability means you can spend more of your cash on a decent trim level with a bit more equipment - at the very least Sport or M Sport if the budget allows. This diesel version is also a good choice for company car drivers thanks to low CO2, but considering the extra weight and power the xDrive20d is only marginally more polluting, and therefore worth a look.

'If you want thrills, then the X2 M35i is an intriguing alternative to the Audi SQ2, just if you can stomach the higher cost than many of its performance rivals.'
– Adam Binnie, new cars editor

And while this X2 is good to drive for an SUV, it's more of an ever-so-slightly lifted-up hatchback, and any implied off-road ability is sacrificed for on-road enjoyment that a BMW 1 Series could, rationally, do better. Thing is, there’s not a lot of point applying rationality to an emotionally-driven purchase like a new car, and viewed against its rivals alone, the X2 is really rather good, and very desirable indeed.

The only caveat we'd add is that if you're buying this as a family car, there are more versatile, more comfortable and more spacious options available to you. Not least BMW's own X1 - the more rational choice with greater rear space and a bigger boot. However, if your priorities are a car with a desirable badge, a high-quality interior and a hatchback-like drive, the X2 could be for you. 

Further reading

BMW X2 SUV rivals