Feisty for a four-wheel-drive compact crossover, but entirely average by M division’s lofty standards
For some very committed souls a V10 M5 is an everyday M car. For the rest of us, Munich’s new X2 M35i aims to do the same job with considerably more palatable running costs. The X2 M35i F39 is a high-riding crossover with a transverse turbo four, all-wheel drive and an auto ’box. About as far from a trad BMW sporty saloon as it’s possible to get, then, though BMWs been delivering hit SUVs from unlikely packages for 20 years. Audi and Mercedes already have hot compact crossovers, of course, in the form of the SQ2 and GLA 45. The X2 M35i F39, priced from £43,435, promises a similarly unlikely balance of everyday usability with performance-division pronk.
The 35i is powered by a four-cylinder turbo you’re likely to see in many future BMW products thanks to its high specific output and sound environmental credentials. We’ve seen the bare bones of this 2.0-litre unit before, but upgrades here include a much larger intake, a fatter turbo, a suitably reinforced crankshaft and an uprated cooling system.
The net result is 302bhp and 332lb ft, good for 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds – this X2 certainly shifts like a junior M car. At the same time standard-fit xDrive all-wheel drive with a race start function ensures a clean launch every time. Handy whenever you’re… nope, we can’t think of a single scenario in which a race start function might be handy in an X2 F39. The eight-speed auto delivers purposefully rapid shifts up and down the ’box.
Chassis tweaks include shorter springs and stiffer dampers, plus a Torsen limited-slip differential fitted – unusually for a BMW – on the front axle. As a result the X2 feels largely front driven with assistance from the rears when needed. Rest assured that sentence felt as odd to write as it did to read. Grip is strong but this isn’t a car blessed with a huge amount of throttle adjustability. Understandable, given the X2’s an X2. But underwhelming given it’s an M car.
An unconventional BMW, the X2 M35i is one dimensional but hugely competent – fast, with a good soundtrack and satisfying levels of grip
Drive-My rating ★★★