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BMW X2 Xdrive 20d 2018 Road Test

Sporty, swoopy and luxurious, the BMW X2 adds some fun and opulence into the otherwise monotone world of compact crossovers. Family buyers might take issue with the high price tag and lack of interior space, but the X2 makes a strong case for itself in an ever overcrowded SUV market. 

BMW X2 shares its base with the X1, but looks and feels distinguishing in its own right thanks sharper handling and a distinctive exterior. Indeed, the styling has been heavily influenced by the concept car that won the plaudits at the Paris Motor Show 2016, with an aggressive front-end that's flanked by huge kidney grilles and air intakes that wouldn't be amiss from any of BMW's M cars.

The low-slung body sits 70mm closer to the road than the X1, but measures 20mm shorter thanks to shorter overhangs. Obviously, those coupe-like lines result in some compromises in everyday practicality and the boot in particular will feel small for those with families, owing to the fact it's 35 litres smaller than the X1.

Head and legroom in the back has also been reduced, which means the knees of tall adults will - more often than not - end up resting against the backrests of the front seats. It’s not an uncomfortable car to spend a long journey, by any means, but there’s no hiding the fact that BMW has sacrificed some practicality and space for the swoopy, coupe-like styling.

The interior is on par with the best of BMW’s car range, however, with lots of high quality materials and a good fit and finish throughout. The dashboard has a smooth and smart design with simple controls for all of the essential heating, audio and in-car settings and the familiar iDrive system is also fitted as standard, with a rotary dial accessing the 6.5-inch touchscreen that crowns the dash.

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In fact, the X2 is a pleasant place to spend the day with its large windows allowing lots of natural light in. Equipment levels are high across the range too, with basic SE models getting navigation, DAB audio, adaptive cruise control and 17-inch allow wheels

On the road, the X2 feels much more involving than the X1. The steering in particular provides notably more feedback while throttle and brake responses are significantly sharper. The set-up of the chassis is also stiffer, which means you don't get the typical SUV body lean when you carry speed through challenging bends. Obviously, this results in a firmer ride quality compared to the X1, but the X2 is not an uncomfortable car. Indeed, even on large wheels and with sports suspension, we found the ride to be well within acceptable levels of everyday comfort.

Engine options span four diesels and two petrols, with the former expected to make up the majority UK sales. Outputs for both - which are available with a six-speed manual, seven-speed or eight-speed auto - range from 150PS to 190PS. A 200PS+ diesel is expected to be added in mid-2018.  

Our test car was the four-wheel drive 190PS xDrive 20d and we found it to be smooth, quiet and refined. The four-cylinder diesel is a good match for the 1.6 tonnes of X2 SUV, with its 400Nm of torque providing a rewarding thump of acceleration from low down the rev range - perfect for overtaking slow moving traffic. Advertised economy is a respectable 61.4mpg and 124g/km of CO2, while braked towing limits are a caravan friendly 2000kg and the trailer nose weight is 80kg. 

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All xDrive 20d models get an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard and again we found little to complain about, with good range between the gears and smooth changes on both the up and downshift. The four-wheel drive system is also good for wintry roads - with the rear-wheels coming into play when loss of traction is detected. We didn't get the opportunity to test it off road, but most, if not all, X2 owners will refuse to get their vehicles muddy...

The decision to buy the X2 over its rival premium compact crossovers will come down to what you essential want from your car. Family buyers, for example, will find the X2's sacrifices in space and practicality to be somewhat restrictive. Indeed, we doubt the boot will cope with everything a family of one will need for a day out, let alone a family of two children. 

It's expensive too. With prices starting from £33,980, the BMW X2 is a smudge over £7000 more than the X1 and more than £6000 over the starting point for the Audi Q3. For a mid-range 20d diesel with a handful of options - as tested here - the X2 will nudge worryingly close to the £40,000 marker and family buyers will feel somewhat short-changed.

If, on the other hand, you value style, performance and luxury over such trivialities as space, price and practicality then the BMW X2 will have lots to offer. Fun, eye-catching and rewarding to drive, the X2 might be expensive but it’s also undeniably premium and we think that’s exactly what BMW intended.

The BMW X2 is on sale now. 

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