2024 BMW X2 First Drive Review: All in the Family

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick

The previous, first-generation BMW X2 disappeared from these shores over a year ago. Admit it, you probably didn’t notice.

The original X2 was always kind of a weirdo in the BMW lineup. Not quite a regular SUV, but also not a coupe-over like the X4 and X6. For the second generation it casts a shadow more in keeping with the shapes of those bigger siblings, while adding in more power, space, and tech—plus the promise of more fun. BMW brought us to Portugal to see if it delivers, and the verdict is… yes, mostly.

What’s new?

As before, the X2 sits on the UKL2 platform, the same one underpinning not only the X1 but also the Mini Countryman. In fact, in this M35i guise, there’s quite a lot in common with the latter, including the 2.0-liter turbo-four engine, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and standard all-wheel drive. Horsepower is an even 300 here in Euro-land, but Americans will enjoy 312 hp; both markets see a torque peak of 295 pound-feet. An xDrive28i model mirrors that of the X1: 241 hp and 258 lb-ft.

The X2 sure doesn’t look like a Mini, though. The styling is deceptively different from the X1, starting with the tweaked headlight shape and wider, more angular kidney grille design—the latter of which includes a light-up frame. Move around the side and obviously the rakish roofline is different, but so are the wheelarches and rocker panel design. The X2 also has its own character line at mid-height, which highlights the lower (by 2.0 inches / 51 millimeters), longer (ditto) look. Move around back and there are some very un-BMW taillights, with an exaggerated kink not unlike the 2019 3 Series’ headlights. A very aggressive, contrasting lip spoiler balances the look.

Do I love the Kermit color? Oh yes, but probably not at the astonishing $6,000 (CAD) asking price. The matte finish can also play havoc with the intersecting lines along the X2’s flanks, with some curves seeming more like dents. I’m also not sold on the four exhaust pipes, a look previously reserved for only full M models. Some things are sacred. That being said, the X2 does make a much stronger statement in its sophomore outing.

Stiff competition

The roll out from the hotel has my co-driver and I looking for the drive mode settings within a few hundred feet. Why is the X2 so stiff? Okay, the cobblestone pathway doesn’t help. In its growth spurt the X2 has packed on an additional 200-ish pounds, now weighing 3,840 pounds (1,742 kilograms), and the M35i rides on rubber bands wrapping 21-inch alloys. To keep all that in check requires a robust setup for sure, but the sport mode makes this little ‘ute borderline punishing. An M4 CSL on track is less fidgety.

Wind it back down to a calmer drive mode, as the unexpected fog and 50-yard visibility forces later in the day, and the X2 is a much happier proposition. The steering is typical BMW, big on boost and unerringly accurate. The stoppers are impressive, the M compound discs hauling this chunky lil’ guy down through every downhill run without a hint of fade. (American buyers can spec these upgrades brakes; Canada will skip ‘em.)

The seven-speed dual-clutch is a good one, the same unit that impressed us in the X1 for its decidedly un-DCT-like attitude. It’s a hard one to trip up at low speeds, though it could be more responsive in sport mode. The whole show is accompanied by a bassy burble; some is piped in, sure, but it’s not an unrealistic tone.

Modern cabin, newfound space

While the X2’s wrapper might be different, the cabin is much closer to the X1 experience. Swap in some Alcantara along the dashboard and the usual M over-thick steering wheel and you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Even those funky metallic door handles remain. That’s not a bad thing: the X2’s cabin is thoroughly modern and newly spacious, the airy feeling enhanced with the semi-floating center console. The top-floor height leaves the tiny shifter at a natural height, while unlocking a sizeable storage cubby underneath. BMW has also kept the delightfully over-designed wireless charger, complete with a little safety bar to lock your device in place. It’s like a rollercoaster for phones!

The front buckets—replete with light-up M badges—are aggressively bolstered, which makes them joyously supportive in the winding mountain roads but a little restrictive when tootling along the coast.

Seeing the new roofline, one would be forgiven for pre-emptively ducking in prep for a second-row ride. With over seven inches (178 mm) of additional length and two inches (51 mm) more height than the outgoing X2 however, X2.0’s greenhouse doesn’t actually tip towards terra firma until further back than the last model. The result is a backseat experience that’s… well, it’s fine. Legroom is great, headroom is okay, but you’re intimately aware of just how little air exists between headrest and headliner.

Cargo space is massively improved, with 25.3 cubic feet (560 liters) with the seats up and 51.7 cubes (1,470 L) with ‘em down. The load floor is nice and flat, while the lip isn’t too high.

New tech impresses

The most notable feature in the X2’s vast tech suite is an absence: there is no iDrive rotary controller, which has been in every BMW other than this and new X1 since the E65-generation 7 Series of 2001. That means poking and prodding at the central touchscreen, which takes up residence with the driver instrument cluster under one panel. Or voice assistance, which proves solidly accurate if not still a little over-eager.

The X2 debuts iDrive 9.0, which is good… mostly. (There it is again.) The highs: a sharp display, permanent controls always on-screen to the left, and the ability to add in your own selection of third-party apps like Spotify. It uses a similar tile-based approach as 8.0 for its main menus, and a home screen features a variety of user-selected quick-access features plus navigation—the latter of which can be augmented with arrows overlaid on roads.

Main criticisms are an over-reliance on touch controls—namely climate—and a laggy navigation experience.

2024 BMW X2: Pricing

In America, pricing for the X2 starts at $42,995 (including destination) for the xDrive28i model. Graduating to the M35i bumps that up to a substantial $52,395. As equipped, you’re looking at closer to $60,000 all-in.

Canadian pricing doesn’t include destination, as BMW allows each dealer to charge its own amount. The xDrive28i stickers for $48,800 CAD before options, while the the X2 M35i swells to $59,400 CAD. As equipped, this tester would list for $75,900 CAD.

The toughest competitor for the X2 is arguably the Mini JCW Countryman. I drove it the day after the X2 and found it just as fun on a good road, more livable on the routes connecting them, and more charming overall. I readily acknowledge Mini and BMW buyers are two very different audiences however—but if you’re looking at one, do yourself a favor and check out both.

Final thoughts: 2024 BMW X2 First Drive Review

Now don’t get me wrong, this new X2 is better than the outgoing model in just about every measurable way—and yes, on the right roads it’s kinda fun. That being said, it’s still a flawed machine. In M35i form it rides very harshly and it ends up being pretty darned pricey for what is, at the end of the day, still a front-drive-based, 2.0-liter four-cylinder SUV—sorry, SAV.

On the other hand, the X2 is a niche vehicle, and being individualistic is kind of its MO. If you value that, plus the ability to meld hot hatch thrills with solid versatility and a boatload of tech, there isn’t much else quite like it on the market.

Become an AutoGuide insider. Get the latest from the automotive world first by subscribing to our newsletter here.

Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

More by Kyle Patrick

Join the conversation