DRIVEN: New BMW X2 is a rebel in two distinct flavours

Published Apr 17, 2024


The new BMW X2 has landed in Mzansi and if the X1 is a tad too compact and the popular X3 doesn’t do it for you then the “rebel” as it’s dubbed within the group that first introduced the Sports Activity Coupe moniker, should cover all your bases.

As we’ve come to expect with updates it’s taken a couple of steroids and the second generation is 194mm longer, 21mm wider and 64mm taller, allowing for 560 litres of boot space and 1,470 litres with the rear seats folded, but it still retains the character and coupe-esque type lines of the X2.

South Africa gets the X2 M35i xDrive performance model and the X2 sDrive 18i, both with the M Sport package as standard..

It has the hexagonal BMW kidney grille that has an option for the Iconic Glow contour lighting, if that’s your thing, as well as a pronounced rear diffuser and the M35i sports quad-tip exhausts.

You can also opt for the M Sport Pro Package that adds extra exterior styling and trim elements, M Sport performance brakes with red callipers and some interior tweaks.

Under the bonnet are two vastly different power plants.

The X2 sDrive 18i gets a three cylinder 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine that provides 115kW and 230Nm, powering the front wheels via a seven-speed Steptronic Dual Clutch transmission.

The M35i xDrive comes with a two-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 233kW and 400Nm, also with the seven-speed Dual Clutch transmission driving all four wheels. It’s fitted with M Sport adaptive suspension and will get to 100km/h in 5.4 seconds.

The interior of the X2 really looks and feels the part with the BMW Curved Display, M Sport steering wheel and “floating armrest” with integral control panel dominating.

The wireless charging pad sees the device to stand upright while charging, allowing you to glance down as messages come through.

The touchscreen infotainment system has BMW’s latest iDrive display and control operating System 9 with Quick-Select rapid-access tech. As is standard now, it’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible although Apple CarPlay worked a lot better with a cable rather than the wireless feature.

It also features the rather controversial digital subscription services where you can add certain functions and apps such as music streaming, news or gaming at a price for a specified period.

On launch the sDrive18i was fitted with the standard Veganza perforated and Vernasca leather seats providing ample support but the M35i had the optional M Sport seats which take it to another level.

What are they like to drive?

We drove the sDrive 18i first and initially when it was announced that it would have a three-pod motor I had my doubts. Small capacity engines and especially three cylinders aren’t something normally associated with BMW.

It’s quite punchy, revving freely to the red line before switching gears. You do feel like it’s about to run out of steam though if you continue to drive it hard but it handles well and takes care easily of road imperfections even with the optional 20-inch rims fitted.

Steering is direct with good feedback with little torque steer on the front wheel drive as you would expect from a BMW.

You certainly notice the sDrive i18’s engine limitations when piloting the M35i.

This is more what we’ve become accustomed to with a delightful linear power delivery and quick gear changes when you step on the throttle.

There’s a good balance between power and handling and in Sport Mode it’s accompanied with snap, crackle and pop from the tailpipes, adding to its sporty appeal.

With power to all four wheels it easily takes care of sharp bends with the seats keeping you well supported and getting way past the national speed limit will be a regular occurrence if you don’t discipline yourself.

As with its smaller sibling steering is very direct, especially in Sport, but it did feel a bit twitchy at speed on uneven road surfaces, possibly as a result of the runflat tyres on 21-inch rims.

Dial it down for highway cruising and everything becomes more sedate, comfortable and less frenetic.

There’s a host of safety features including Cruise Control with brake function, Lane Departure Warning with Lane return, Front Collision Warning, Speed Limit Information, Parking Assistant with Reverse Assist Camera and you can also select from a long list of optional safety features.

The BMW X2 is unlikely to be a volume seller but it does add a decent offering in the segment for those who prefer the Bavarian logo and the changes over the previous generation make a significant difference.

BMW X2 Pricing (April 2024)

X2 sDrive 18i: R879,738

X2 M35i xDrive: R1,223,935