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BMW X2 review: Dressed for success

The BMW X2 is a seductive new crossover, but it's based on a practical bestseller.

BMW X2 sDrive20i.

BMW X2 sDrive20i.


I'VE never squeezed myself into a low-cut dress and stilettos, but I imagine that doing so would have a profound influence on my mental state, to say nothing of the mental state of those around me.

So what happens when you take a BMW X1 and dress it suggestively? You get the X2 - a compact crossover that blends sport utility vehicle with sporty hatch with coupe with, above all, plenty of playfulness.

Under the X2's shapely form, you'll find the mechanical guts of the boxy X1. The two cars share a huge number of parts that you can't see (and many that you can), but in terms of bodywork, they have only their door handles and antenna fins in common.

The way the car mixes genres, the final result could have been a mess, but the X2 is an irresistible thing to look at, with a design that imbues it with lots of character - my test car reminded me of a grumpy, yellow bear that I wanted to soothe with cookies and chirruping noises.

Up front, it's broad and low-slung, with a grille that's wider at the bottom than the top, giving it an aspect of don't-mess-with-me seriousness. The side of the car is no less distinctive, thanks to slim windows and a nice, flowing sweep to the roofline that extends to a spoiler on the tailgate.

Notice the BMW badges on the C-pillars? BMW says they pay homage to some of its classic coupes, though a cynic might grumble that they're only there to pander to people's worship of the BMW badge. I say what use are fancy clothes if you don't accessorise?

Whatever you think of the X2's body and shape, the car itself has enough size and versatility to serve as family transport.

The boot carries 470 litres, with foldable rear seats to expand it and an underfloor compartment to keep it tidy. You can't adjust the seats the way you can in the X1, but the space in the back is surprisingly generous, so it's unlikely to matter. And even though the windows are slim, they're fairly wide so they let in plenty of light, which keeps the cabin from feeling dingy.

Where things might have gone into overkill is with the upholstery, which is a mix of Alcantara (a durable, synthetic suede) and cloth with a hexagonal pattern on it. It's all sewn together with contrast stitching, and looks modern and sporty, but I wonder how the leather-loving crowd here will take to it.

The cloth seats are part of the X2's M Sport equipment pack, to which some grey body panels are added to create a new M Sport X trim. Both entail a sportier suspension setup with firmer and lower springs, with the obvious aim of making the car fun to drive.

It might be worth mentioning here that I would rather ride a giant fatberg through the sewers than drive a crossover car because its height tends to make it oafish around corners, but someone obviously forgot to tell the X2 that it was supposed to be clumsy.

Instead, it has the cheek to go around bends with proper composure and sure-footedness. If anything, it responds to all your attempts to go fast by indulging them with the easy sangfroid of an amused cat. And it clings to tarmac as if it has claws instead of tyres.

A slightly faster steering rack makes it noticeably more agile than the X1, in spite of their shared DNA, and its stability is helped by a lower roofline (which gives it a lower centre of gravity). But there are also enough suspension tweaks to make the X2 feel like a completely different car to the X1.

In fact, it's the best of BMW's X cars to drive, given that none of the bigger models are able to scamper from corner to corner with as much vigour.

Before I set my face up for some reviewer's egg, however, I should point out that I drove an all-wheel drive version of the X2 at its launch, and with a diesel engine. Singapore versions will be quite different.

The X2 sDrive20i, a 2.0-litre turbo version with 192hp and front-wheel drive, is the model that will go on sale here by April. It leaps to 100km/h in 7.7 seconds, and it should sound much better than the clattery diesel I drove, but it won't accelerate out of corners with as much traction.

A 1.5-litre sDrive18i version is set to join the lineup later in the year, but if BMW can get the sDrive20i's price under S$200,000 at today's COE prices, the X2 is bound to be a hit.

It's practical, good to drive, and has striking looks. And it has twice the number of BMW badges on its body as the brand's other cars.

Anyway, BMW's X cars are currently hot. Last year, the various X models (the X1, X3 and X5 are more practical crossovers, while the even-numbered X4 and X6 are meant to be their glam sisters) grew their sales by 9.7 per cent and now account for one in three new BMWs sold worldwide.

As for BMW's decision to take the functional X1 and vamp it up to create the new X2, that bodes well, too. Last year, the single best-selling BMW around the world was the X1.

BMW X2 sDrive20i
(as intended for Singapore)

Engine 1,998cc, 16V, turbo in-line 4
Power 192hp at 5,000 to 6,000rpm
Torque 280Nm at 1,350 to 4,600rpm
Gearbox 7-speed twin-clutch automatic
Top Speed 227km/h
0-100km/h 7.7 seconds
Fuel efficiency 5.9 to 5.5l/100km
CO2 134 to 126g/km
Price S$200,000 with COE (estimated)
Agent Performance Motors
Available April 2018 (estimated)

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