Jaco Van Der Merwe

By Jaco Van Der Merwe

Head of Motoring

Sporty BMW X2 M35i delivers the go to match the show

Attractive coupe-styled SUV offers dynamic alternative to the mommy wagon.

At face value, there are two things about the BMW X2 M35i that will now sit well with many car enthusiasts.

The first is the general existence of coupe-styled SUVs. I can just hear the utterance “you can’t have both, it’s either an SUV or a coupe”.

Secondly is that at a starting price of R1 223 936 the sportiest X2 model are not powered by BMW’s renowned 3.0-litre engine.

BMW X2 M35i its the spot

After spending a week in the all-new BMW X2 M35i, The Citizen Motoring can safely proclaim that this coupe-styled SUV does indeed justify its existence. And that its 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine does a very noble job in the absence of the mighty straight-six.

Following the footsteps of the X6 and X4, which were introduced as coupe-styled alternatives to the X5 and X3, the X2 became BMW’s first compact coupe-styled offering as an alternative to the traditionally SUV-styled X1. While the X1 offers the gateway to the X family, the X2 in turn is the gateway to the coupe-styled X badge which the German carmaker calls Sports Activity Vehicle.

ALSO READ: Bigger and better BMW X2 attractive alternative to its X1 sibling

Like the X6 and X4, the X2 is just too niche to be a volume seller. It was created to offer something sportier for the potential buyers in the premium compact SUV space. And in offering an expressive look that is sexier than the more mommy wagon-styled X1, it does its first job with distinction.

BMW X2 M35i rear
The all-new BMW X2 features longer overhangs than its predecessor. Picture: BMW

Bigger than before

While the all-new BMW X2’s front end-styling is in line with the X1 and X3, its rear is where the action is at. It features a lower sloping roofline with a longer rear overhang akin to the X4 and muscular shoulder lines.

Up front, the all-new X2 is the first compact X member to feature the illuminated kidney grille as an option. This made quite a statement on our tester along with the optional 21-inch dual-tone alloy wheels which is housed in prominently flared wheel arches.

The X2 M351 comes standard with the M Sport Package Pro which includes red high-gloss brake callipers, M Individual lights Shadow Line and Individual high-gloss Shadow Line.

It has grown considerably and is at 4 554mm all of 194mm longer than before. This makes it 54mm longer than the X1. At 1 590mm, it is 64mm higher than its predecessor and at 1 545mm 21mm wider than before.

ALSO READ: New BMW X1 designed to embrace the future

Sporty interior

The improved dimensions not only create more head and legroom for rear passengers, but also sees bootspace go up by 90 litres to 560 litres.

Inside, the X2 M35i features a curved display consisting of a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.7-inch infotainment screen with 9.0 operating system.

The old centre unit makes way for a new floating centre console which features a toggle gear switch instead of the traditional lever.

The M35i features an M leather steering wheel and Alcantara-covered instrument panel, M seatbelts and M sports seats with backlit M logo.

BMW X2 M35i cabin
The all-new BMW X2 features a curved display. Picture: BMW

BMW X2 M35i packs a punch

The sportiness of the M35i does not end with its look and feel. It offers the drive to match the looks. Albeit not a pukka M product, the X2 M35i’s four-pot blown mill is up for any task. It is hooked up to recalibrated seven-speed dual-clutch Steptronic transmission that sends the twist to all four corners.

Near-actuator wheel slip limitation and M suspension, which includes frequency-selective damping, sport steering and a 15mm drop in ride height, make the drive all the more dynamic.

ALSO READ: Spark injected iX1 shows how far BMW’s baby SUV has come

In addition to the various driving modes, a dedicated M button on the steering wheel also allows for maximum boost for 10 seconds. While this function is great for overtaking, it is very tempting when flooring it as the light turns green.

BMW claims the X2 M35i will spring from 0 to 100km/h in 5.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 230km/h. We think it might be actually be faster, as its 225kW predecessor clocked a sprint time of 5.35 seconds during our road test back in 2020.

Dynamic handling

But the old saying goes that straights are for fast cars and corners are for fast drivers. And the X2 M35i does show its true potential through the twisties, gripping and hustling as it goes along. With an augmented soundtrack that might not but everyone’s cup of tea.

ALSO READ: Wait no more: Dramatically new BMW X3 comes out of hiding

Our enthusiastic driving did come at a cost at the pumps though. Let’s just say we were very off the claimed 7.8L/100km. Our fuel consumption may or may not have been double that number.

BMW X2 M35i toggle switch
A toggle switch has replaced the traditional gear lever. Picture: BMW

Standard safety systems include front collision warning, cruise control with brake function, speed limit info and lane departure warning with lane return. Parking Assistant brings reversing assist camera and reversing assistant to the party.

Thumbs up

We thoroughly enjoyed our week in the BMW X2 M35i. It turns out you can have the practicality of an SUV combined with the sportiness of a coupe. And that an M product without the famed straight-six can also produce adrenaline-inducing drives.

It might be niche, but it sure is nice.

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