First off, don’t call the all new 2018 BMW X2 hatchback, even if it does look a bit like a slightly more beefed-up Volkswagen GTI.
Why not? Because in the U.S., we generally dislike the tried-and-true hatchback, a type of car long loved in regions like Europe and Asia for their versatility, performance and fuel economy.
But in a land where you can still find a gallon of gas for less than $3, hatchbacks are persona non grata. So BMW (BMW.DE) engineers and product gurus did the next best thing: they took their UKL platform, the backbone of the X1 CUV and the Mini Countryman, and gave it a bit more of an aggressive look, with a low-slung roofline, a wider stance and voila – you have the 2018 X2 SAV, or sport activity vehicle.
Don’t believe me that the X2 is more hatchback than CUV? Let’s take a look at the measurements. While the X2 measures in at 172″ L x 72″ W x 60″ H, the 5-door GTI (VOW.DE) variant comes in at 168″ L x 71″ W x 58″ H — not much of a difference there. The X2’s wheelbase is only an inch-and-a-half longer too.
Powering the X2 is the BMW’s twin-turbo 2.0L inline 4-cylinder, pumping out 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. It comes paired with an 8-speed automatic, and there’s no manual transmission offered.
In our road test, Rick Newman and I both loved the X2’s handling and small footprint, especially since our ride took place mostly in Manhattan and north of the city that allowed us to stretch the X2’s legs. While the X2 handled flat, and had a firm, yet supportive ride, we discovered a decent amount of turbo lag at initial acceleration, something we found unhelpful in city driving where you need that initial “oomph” to get you in and out of tight spaces and darting through small lanes of traffic.
This X2 is aimed at the urban, younger, more affluent buyer who will likely be driving the X2 in city conditions. This is a segment automakers want to be in, and there is no dearth of competitors in the space (see here, here and here). Starting at around $37,000, it’s a competitively priced sport/luxury SUV in the segment, but with options a model like our X2 xDrive28i came close to $51,000.
All in all, Newman and I found the X2 to be a winner for BMW, especially when you consider where the market is going – CUV and SUV all day, every day. Just credit BMW for taking the sheep that is basically a hatchback, and dressing it up as the wolf in CUV product-marketing clothing.
For more on a our review, check out the video above.