The BMW X2 M35i sits atop the X2 line-up. While from the outside it presents as a mini-SUV, this car is more than meets the eye. At its heart lies a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine, and it is built on a transverse front-wheel-drive platform – going against BMW’s M institution.
The X2 was the first M-Performance model to boast a four-cylinder turbo. Since then, the German carmaker has packed both the M135i and M235i Gran Coupe with this very engine. It's fair to say that this X2 is niche and not just your typical mini-SUV, rather the brand’s high-performance, higher-riding hot hatch.
The 2021 BMW X2 M35i starts at $73,900. Our model on test included Mineral Grey metallic paintwork adding $1700 to the price tag, bringing the total to $75,600 excluding on-road costs.
If you're shopping this car, you're also most likely looking at the Mercedes-AMG GLA35 starting at $83,700 or may be torn between the the soon to arrive Audi SQ2 from $64,400, or more ferocious Audi RS Q3 that will set you back a whopping $92,900 (all prices are before on-road costs). When it comes to the price tag, the BMW might leave you with more money in your back pocket, depending on which you choose.
Here at CarAdvice, we reviewed this car at launch and found consumers questioning BMW’s ability to produce the ride quality to match its performance. Fast-forward a few years, and we thought we’d test the X2 M35i on its road credentials. While it holds that superb crackly engine and produces an abundance of power, can you still get BMW dynamism?
|2021 BMW X2 M35i|
|Engine||2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged|
|Power||225kW at 6250rpm|
|Torque||450Nm at 1750–4500rpm|
|Transmission||Eight-speed torque-converter automatic|
|Drive type||All-wheel drive|
Starting it up, the engine spins swiftly, fires and the two exhaust pipes produce a mean note. Automatically you’re greeted with a loud, proud howl. Really, this is the kind of car that you’re wary of starting up too early in the morning. Throughout the week that I had this in my garage, I undoubtedly acted as the alarm clock for my neighbours.
The noise from the gutsy engine doesn’t dwindle once you get going either. It only continues to deliver high-pitched crackles and pops as you work through its eight-speed 'Steptronic' automatic transmission. This car has the ability to catch you a little off-guard with its near-instant throttle response – the engine discharging impressive figures of 225kW at 6250rpm and 450Nm at 1750–4500rpm.
The torque delivery is linear, with a broad spread and it surges onward from standstill. We engaged the paddle shifters regularly on test, which gave the drive experience more engagement and acted as a perfect distraction while commuting through Melbourne's traffic. The shifts are seamless, and if you get lazy in your gear change, the car is quite content at high revs in lower gears. Even coasting along in second at a higher rev range, it’s not fussed.
Switching from Comfort to Sport immediately sharpens the throttle response and provides an even greater soundtrack, but we felt that we got the right amount of performance even cruising in Comfort. Building speed in the X2 is effortless. It's almost too easy to reach 100km/h in the blink of an eye. We didn’t put it to the test, but BMW claims a figure of 4.9 seconds in the 0–100km/h test.
We liked the fitment of a mechanical limited-slip differential up front. BMW says it's to reduce torque steer – what we felt was that it provides extra confidence in corners. It pulls with certainty into and out of corners no matter the speed, as the all-wheel drive has that capability to shift power where needed on cue. There's plenty of grip on tap, and this X2 is fitted with M-Performance brakes that have the right amount of pedal feel and response.
The X2 has a ride package that definitely edges to firm. It can be so firm on bumpier roads, that it feels unsettled and not as compliant as you might like for a daily driver. Switching between drive modes won't help the cause either – you feel so connected to the road in this car that every bump and crack is noticed.
Partly as a result, the road noise is noticeable when cruising along freeways. With these added acoustics travelling through the cabin along with the drama from the loud engine, there’s no calm, it’s all storm. While you get a cracking engine and great transmission, it would be an overall winner if you didn't feel the rumble from those 20-inch wheels.
Super-firm set-up aside, it has a great driving position, the sport seats are comfortable, while the camera is a notable feature that made life easier negotiating in and out of carparks. It offers up a 3D surround view and reversing assist. And, the payoff for the firm ride, is the way it can handle when you stretch its legs.
We drove this car fairly enthusiastically returning an as-tested fuel number of 10.2L/100km. The majority of driving conducted was on urban roads, so going by the urban fuel number, BMW claims 9.2L/100km. On the combined cycle the official claim is 7.4L/100km. It's worth mentioning there is no manual transmission available.
This car weighs in at 1610kg, with a wheelbase of 2670mm and has a ground clearance of 182mm. It's 4360mm long, 1824mm wide and is 1526mm high – physically making the X2 the smallest of the X portfolio.
It is dimensionally similar to the X1 measuring 87mm shorter, 3mm wider and 72mm lower than its younger sibling. The wheelbases are on par, while the roof line is lower than the X1 in keeping with its coupe-like appearance.
The styling of the X2 M35i is striking and aggressive, in a good way. It gets the BMW kidney grille frame in Cerium Grey, L-shaped LED headlights, sits on 20-inch alloy wheels sporting blue-painted brake callipers with 'M’ designation, and is complete with the iconic BMW badge on the C-pillars.
Inside, the cabin looks sporty yet premium with quality finishes of black high-gloss and pearl chrome. In this model, the sport seats were Sensatec in Trigon/Alcantara black, complete with blue stitching and a shimmery blue pattern throughout. Highlights include the sunroof, leather steering wheel, plus the driver and front passenger receive lumbar support and heated seats – both standard inclusions.
No complaints from the BMW infotainment system – its 10.25-inch touchscreen is intuitive and super responsive. Navigation, digital radio and Apple CarPlay are all included, plus you can access vehicle settings and menus via voice control, the trusted iDrive rotary controller or using the touchscreen. For Android users, you're out of luck as this BMW doesn't yet include Android Auto.
|Fuel claim (urban)||9.2L/100km|
|Fuel claim (combined)||7.4L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||10.2L/100km|
|ANCAP safety rating||Five star (tested 2015)|
In the way of storage, the door bins are generous and offer plenty of room for drink bottles in all four doors. There's a decent-sized centre console and two cupholders up front that sit next to an additional small storage compartment.
The wireless charger is concealed in a top section of the centre console, and while we would have liked to utilise it, unfortunately my phone didn't fit (I have an iPhone 11 Pro Max). We found this odd as the ports are made for newer phones. There is a USB-C up front and two in the second row.
Back-seat passengers score a decent amount of leg room, but with the sloping roof, taller adults may have less than desired head room. We found it comfortable up the back, but would have enjoyed electric seats. There are two ISOFIX tether points, rear air vents and seatback pockets. The boot is a little narrow but otherwise spacious with 470L of cargo space and 1355L with the back seats down.
BMW has been generous with standard features – highlights include a head-up display, LED headlights with cornering lights, M Aerodynamics Package (M front apron, the M rear apron and the M side sills), M Sport brakes, blue-painted brake callipers with 'M’ designation, and the M Sport seats with integrated headrests.
Features such as steering wheel heating, alarm system with remote control and M seatbelts will all add to your price tag.
The driver-assistance package is another standard highlight, which gives you cruise control with braking function, BMW Driving Assistant which bundles together camera-based speed limit info, lane departure and forward collision warning, rear-view camera, and front and rear park sensors.
Along with these features, other safety functions include central locking with electronic immobiliser and crash sensor, dynamic braking lights, electronic stability and traction control, ABS with brake assist, and cornering brake control. In the way of airbags it provides driver and passenger front and side airbags, plus curtain airbags in the first and second-row seats.
The 2021 BMW X2 M35i has a five-star ANCAP safety rating from 2015 and offers a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
With M Performance engine and trimmings, some might claim that this X2 suffers from an identity crisis. Capturing a more youthful demographic with this car, we believe that it does serve a purpose in the BMW line-up. Think of it this way - how many SUV-like hatches can you buy with an engine this formidable for under $80K? Not a whole lot.