With X1, X3, X4, X5, and X6 in showrooms, that conspicuous blank space in BMW’s X Series lineup has now been filled (rather obviously) with the X2, a vehicle BMW describes as a Sport Activity Coupe.
We regret to inform the automotive marketing cabal, but in our book, vehicles with four doors aren’t coupes, regardless of their roof lines. The EPA calls the 2018 BMW X2 a midsize car, and NHTSA calls it an SUV. The high seating position indeed feels like a premium compact SUV. But the way it drives certainly reminds us of a hatchback—and a rather good one.
Starting at $37,395 for a front-drive version, our fully kitted all-wheel-drive X2 xDrive28i (starting at $39,395) totaled $50,920 as tested. Before you spit your kombucha and say, “Not a chance I’d pay that for a tall BMW hatchback,” here’s a partial list of standard equipment on our test vehicle: all-wheel drive, remote entry, automatic wipers, cruise control, 18-inch alloy wheels, a powered/programmable hatch lid, and LED head/fog/cornering/taillamps. Inside, you get a rearview camera, two-zone auto climate control, 10-way power front seats, and seven-speaker 205-watt audio with HD radio. And so on.
It’s not uncommon for press vehicles like this one to be loaded up so we can evaluate everything it has to offer. If you aren’t a fan of the Galvanic Gold metallic paint, your phone isn’t wireless chargeable, and you live in the Sun Belt and don’t need all-wheel drive, there’s $3,050 off the top right there. Let’s see what works and what doesn’t.
Following what’s become the auto industry’s best practice and worst-kept secret, the all-new X2 shares the same UKL2 architecture with, among others, BMW’s X1 and the Mini Countryman. (See also the architectural twins: Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 and Infiniti QX30S). The three BMW/Mini siblings share the same 105.1-inch wheelbase and have nearly the same track width, but what’s interesting is that the X2’s roof is actually 2.8 inches lower (3.2 inches with M Sport suspension) than the more traditionally styled X1 and 1.2–1.6 inches lower than the boxy Countryman. Although the X1 and Countryman do feel similar on the road, the X2 feels (and performs) separate and superior.
Despite similar scale and proportions, the X2 is also the sleekest-looking variant. Thin A-pillars mean forward visibility is excellent, but its short greenhouse does feel a little confining—a concession to the new design. There’s a narrowed view from the rearview mirror back through the abbreviated rear glass. Rear leg- and headroom are adequate, but for anyone taller than 6 feet, it will feel tight—especially when confronted by the knee-thumping hard plastic panels of the front seat backs.
The X2 offers 21.6 cubic feet of cargo space with all seats occupied, and folding down the near-flat 40/20/40 split rear seat backs ups that to 50.1 cubic feet. There’s also a false floor in the back that affords an additional 3.3 cubic feet beneath. To put all this in hatchback terms, one of our favorites, the Volkswagen Golf GTI, offers less volume with seats up (17.4 cubic feet) but more (53.7 cubic feet) with seats folded. Compared to crossovers, it’s a bit less than what you’d get with a subcompact Honda HR-V.
Like the X1 and Countryman, the X2 can be driven with BMW’s B48 2.0-liter direct-injected turbo-four through an eight-speed automatic. Depending on the U.S. application, the B48 engine makes from 181 horsepower (BMW 220i) to 255 horsepower (740e iPerformance). In the X2 xDrive28i, it makes 228 hp at 5,000 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque at 1,450 rpm. The EPA rates it for 21/31/25 mpg city/highway/combined. We didn’t perform our usual EQUA Real MPG testing, but the self-reported fuel economy seems to bear the EPA’s rating out. There are three drive modes (Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport) and three transmission modes (Drive, Sport Drive, Manual).
At the drag strip, our X2 zipped to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, or a half second quicker than an identically powered (slightly heavier) X1 and a full second ahead of a Mini Cooper S Countryman All4. The X2 needed 14.9 seconds to reach the quarter mile at 92.2 mph. By comparison, a 2018 VW Golf GTI (DSG) needed 6.0 seconds to reach 60 mph and 14.5 to cover the quarter mile.
Funny thing is, despite their differing horsepower ratings (and different weights), the across-the-board acceleration of the X2 xDrive28i, X3 xDrive30i, and X4 xDrive28i vary by a 0.1 second or less. In all of these, however, turbo lag must be accepted, and drivers should be prepared. It’s the sort of thing one would notice when, say, timing a turn onto or across a busy boulevard. After applying the throttle at a dead stop, there is indeed a count of “one-thousand-one” before the turbo pressurizes.
Our X2 was comfort- and performance-enhanced with the $400 M Sport adjustable dampers (thus lowering it by 0.4 inch) and the $4,650 M SportX package (which includes 19-inch alloy wheels with 225/45R19 run-flat summer tires, a sport-tuned transmission, a sport-themed exterior package, gloss-black exterior window trim, power-folding mirrors, an intelligent key, an M steering wheel, sport front seats, auto-dimming mirrors, aluminum interior trim with gray chrome accents, a universal garage door opener, a powered panoramic moonroof with power sunshade, SiriusXM satellite radio with one year free, and an all-access subscription to BMW apps).
Those low-profile summer tires do add slight graininess and road noise to the otherwise supple and quiet real-world experience—but combined with the flat-cornering M Sport dampers, they also add to the X2’s performance. Nailing the firm brake pedal from 60 mph brought our X2 to a halt in just 111 feet (three times in a row); that’s 11–12 feet shorter than our previous X1, X3, or X4 tests. What’s more is that the X2’s best figure-eight time (25.9 seconds) and skidpad average lateral acceleration (0.92 g) undercut not only the X1, X3, and X4 (by 0.9–1.3 seconds and 0.07–0.11g) but also the VW GTI with its 26.1-second best lap and 0.91 g lateral average on the skidpad. It might look soft, but the X2 is a legit player.
So this wee hatchback—umm, sports activity vehicle—costs 50 grand. What would we cut to make it slightly less wallet busting? We’d definitely keep the options that make the X2 xDrive28i the hot-hatch performer that it is, but we could easily get along without the Premium package ($2,600), Harman Kardon audio ($875), parking sonar ($800), active safety systems ($700), the polarizing paint ($550), wireless phone charger, especially because an iPhone Plus doesn’t fit on the charger ($500), and M rear spoiler ($150). Scrap all that, and wince as you dump Apple CarPlay ($300): This hauls our X2’s price down to a more reasonable $44,445.
Although that’s still a big number for a top-tier hatchback, it’s hard to describe or assign a value to the sense that the X2 feels premium in a way that neither the X1 nor the Mini Countryman ever have. Just a mile behind the wheel had us saying, “Wow, this feels so different, so much better than I expected from the platform.” The steering is more sophisticated, the multitalented dampers are terrific, the interior packaging—though similar in layout to an X1—looks fresher and more upscale, and the exterior styling has won us over. (We’re big fans of the vintage BMW 3.0 CSL-inspired C-pillar roundel.)
Even non-car people went out of their way to ask questions about the X2. “Is that a new BMW?” they wondered. And in varying shades of breathlessness: “Do you like it?” It turns out the explanation is a rather complicated, “Yes.”
|2018 BMW X2 xDrive28i|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$50,920|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback|
|ENGINE||2.0L/228-hp/258-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,662 lb (58/42%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||172.2 x 71.8 x 59.7 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.3 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.9 sec @ 92.9 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||111 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.92 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.9 sec @ 0.68 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||21/31/25 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||160/109 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.79 lb/mile|