Impressions of an X2
If you are a BMW traditionalist there is a lot wrong with an X2.
Starting with it being a “X” model, and thus a Sports Activity Vehicle (aka SUV) even if in junior SAV mode, and thus not a sports sedan or sports car like as a “proper” BMW.
It has 3 cylinders, which is exactly half the number it “should have”.
And, perhaps more importantly it is front wheel drive, which is the work of the devil as far as a traditionalist is concerned.
So, the burning question is, does it drive and feel like a BMW?
And the answer is a resounding "yes".
Thanks to a generous loan for an entire weekend donated by Brighton BMW to be auctioned as part of the fund raiser for the Royal Children Hospital on Good Friday, I was able to take an X2 on the club’s drive to Healesville Sanctuary and for the rest of the weekend which provided a great mix of roads and conditions.
And if you think an X2 is an odd choice for such a prize, let me stress that this was largely my choice with an eye on my next vehicle purchase.
Such are the ravages of time that my wife (Shaaron) and I have to face the fact that getting in and out of low slung sports cars on a daily basis is a thing of the past.
The X2 has the higher H-Point (or hip point, seat in plain speak) which is better for us oldies and also young families hauling kids into car seats – back breaking work in a sedan. It also gives more apparent leg room as one’s lower legs are more vertical.
First up, looks – a very personal thing. But I think the X2 hits the marks, not obviously a SAV and certainly not a dull hatchback. I like it. The BMW roundel on the C pillar harks back to the fabulous E9 2.5/2.8/3.0 coupes. It still has dual round headlamps flanking the iconic kidney grilles, but now the grilles are wider at the bottom than at the top. Still instantly recognisable as a BMW.
The loaner did not have Comfort Access so I had to go to the enormous effort of actually using the key to unlock the car. But it did have keyless start.
Once inside I felt right at home. Unmistakably BMW. The wheel to pedal placement, the layout of the controls, all exactly as expected and a perfect fit. Except, that is, for the gear lever which is a little bit too low and forward for me.
Tom from Brighton BMW quickly paired my phone and the contacts list uploaded in no time. The latest iDrive system is similar but different from the 2008 spec in my daily drive, but easy to use without training and a very nice clear display. I’m not keen on touch screens in cars even when operated by the passenger, and this one quickly had a few finger marks on it from our experimentation. Best avoided I think. The iDrive does it all anyway.
The door mirrors are a nice and large with a commanding view. The same can not be said for the interior mirror or over the shoulder where the view out is hampered by the attractive swoopy styling.
Fear not, as a reversing camera is included with trace lines to show you where you are going and multiple alerts from front and rear parking sensors to show you what you are about to hit, including kerbs when parallel parking. And it works properly in the dark. And while we are talking about parking, I found it to be especially easy with a very good turning circle and nice short overhangs.
The loaner was a s18i, so 2 wheel drive and 1.5 litre 3 cylinder turbo petrol, none of which is apparent when driving unless really pushed. Producing 103 kW it is certainly not an M-Car but it scoots along perfectly well, surprisingly quickly in fact. To put it in perspective, my 1981 323i (described as the ultimate sports sedan in many reviews when new in 1978) has about the same power although slightly less mass.
Certainly I did not find it wanting and it compared favourably with my daily drive E90 320d, although it did not have the wall of torque the diesel provides.
As with most new cars now it has Stop/Start functionality to turn the engine off when stopped in traffic. Unlike most systems, this one does not, illogically, turn the engine on when the parking brake is applied and the foot brake released.
The 7 speed auto is silky smooth and unobtrusive in traffic, holding onto gears slightly longer when in Eco-Pro mode, which makes the car feel slightly heavier and lethargic but still acceptable. Personally, I think I would just use the Comfort mode most of the time but I’d be interested to see what actual improvement in economy it produces. During my testing the system told me I gained 4.2 km during a 60 km drive. If that was maintained my credit card would tell me to use Eco-Pro quite often!
Sport mode spices things up and is ideal for more spirited driving on the open road where the steering also comes to life with plenty of feel and weight. And if that is not enough the auto gearbox can be operated manually, and I mean manually. It will stick with the gear you have chosen unless the road speeds falls too low!
Even though we had nice sunny weather on our drive, the leather (or fake leather) dash covering did not reflect in the windscreen – which is a problem I usually have. And the optional panoramic roof fitted made the interior light and airy.
Our route to Healesville, expertly selected by Peter Williams, included some town driving to get out of the city limits and some twisty roads to have some fun. The road surfaces varied and included a representative sample of VicRoads’s finest to some needing a lot of TLC.
Although many reviews describe the X2’s ride as jiggerly on the press car’s optional M Sport set up, I found the standard set up’s ride compliant and the body movements well controlled. Just about perfect in fact.
The loan car did not have the optional automatic climate control which presents another 1st world problem, manually controlling the temperature controls! But, more annoyingly in traffic, a feature of many recent model BMWs is that the recirculation control repeatedly turned itself off. Probably fixable with a laptop or Carly.
I thought the Xenon headlamps on my 320d were good, but the X2 is better again, although I did not have chance to try the updated adaptive headlamp operation.
Understandably, the boot is smaller than my current 320d, but still big enough to get two suitcases in, which is about all we are routinely likely to put in there. And the back seat does fold.
Whilst we are at the back of the car, the rear seat has plenty of leg room. I could easily sit behind myself, if you know what I mean. And there is plenty of head room for my long-body-for-my-height frame.
In summary, would I buy one. I think, yes - and there is now an X2 M35i. Don’t tempt me!
Lawrence Glynn | Member #3
BMW Drivers Club Melbourne
N.B: Cover photo via BMW Press Club.