BMW’s ‘sub compact SUV’ the X2 was added the marque’s ever-increasing range at the tail end of 2017 and subsequently joined us here in NZ early the following year. Displaying the brand’s new styling cues but also featuring a ‘C’ pillar BMW badge that nods back to the CSL of the 70’s, it was heralded as a front-wheel drive city dweller that had an ‘air to dare’.
For although it had been undoubtedly created to be adept at traversing the mean streets that make up urban life, it also had a boldness about it, offering more road presence and room than the X1’s frame it sat on, thus allowing its owners more scope to venture out that much further. I liked it, it fitted in well with my compact family. But now I’ve found an X2 I like twice as much, it’s racier than before, offers more traction and comes with an M badge, oh yeah.
The X2 M35i xDrive is a bit of a mouthful but then again, it has a lot to talk about. Alright, so at 4.36m long and 1.82m wide the X2 is not exactly compact, but it is all relative. (Just like me) everything is getting bigger but the M35i version, with all the fruits of the M-Sport body kit, somehow looks smaller than the regular options – could just be the 20-inch feet it rides on.
The X2 M-sport accents and badging add a sense of purpose to this activity vehicle, quite subtle up front and its profile with the air scoops and ‘stop on a dime’ M-Sport brake callipers, however, less so at the rear with a roofline spoiler and twin exhaust pipes that I’ll get to shortly.
Under the bonnet is an M Performance TwinPower Turbo inline four-cylinder petrol engine that is sure to grab your attention. With a zero to 100km/h time of 5s, it certainly did mine. Boasting 225kW of power and almost double the amount of torque (450Nm) than the regular X2, I think you’ll begin to understand why I like this model so much.
My review vehicle came in a white that’s as pure as the driven snow and thanks to it being xDrive AWD, it’ll drive on that too. The xDrive system allows you to confidently put all the aforementioned power to the ground and hug the corners like a long lost friend.
The interior comes with lots of M-Sport affection. Grippy leather M-Sport wheel, paddles for the 8-speed transmission and X2 M35i specific sports seats with M-Sport labels and a very supportive demeanour. Harman Kardon supply the tunes with an iDrive controlled 8.8-inch touch display. There’s room enough for five (ok it’s a bit of a squeeze), it’s got 470 litres of rear luggage space and has a glass sunroof to ‘quite literally’ top it all off.
We decided to venture out to Pukekohe, one of NZ’s motorsport spiritual homes and take a look at the racetrack. Just a look, not a drive, I want to underline for those that work in BMW NZ. Unfortunately, with a drifting event underway, (free) access was denied. Unperturbed, we took to the surrounding roads and released some M’s.
As the revs head north, the sports exhaust exhibits a more excitable tone. It’s not in any way overpowering but it does embrace its M-Sport roots. It’s quick to get up to the national speed limit but it also allows you to hold it there on the plethora of country road bends that NZ has to offer. The seats hold you firmly in place and the sports suspension is reassuringly rigid. Having xDrive means that the turning circle seems slightly compromised but this is an SAV that you’ll be pleased to take outside the city walls – definitely more ‘air to dare’.
With double the traction of the regular X2, almost two times the torque, a sporty note and oodles of M-Sportness, I’m sure it’s easy to see why I think the BMW X2 M35i is twice as nice.