If the gap between the BMW X1 and X3 has been bothering you for years, from a purely completist, alphanumeric standpoint, your prayers have been answered. BMW debuted the X2 crossover earlier in 2018, filling a gap in its lineup with a model that's smaller than the X1 but one that it much more car-like.

The target, of course, is the latest batch of pocket crossovers from other luxury automakers: Mercedes-Benz rolled out its GLA-Class just four years, essentially offering a jacked-up hatchback with solid engineering underneath it all, a modest footprint, and a German luxury pricetag. The X2, then, is best viewed as BMW's very direct answer, and we all that know German automakers rarely leave rivals' new segment debuts unanswered. The only real surprise with the X2 was the fact that it took BMW this long to field something like this, but to their credit the Bavarians have been busy filling other segments that you didn't know needed filling.

New for 2018, the X2 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four that has been working its way into the BMW range for some time, producing 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Coupled with an eight-speed automatic and front-wheel drive or optional xDrive all-wheel drive, the X2 shares its UKL2 platform with the new Mini Countryman. In fact, it's much easier overall to process what the X2 offers (and why it exists) by looking at it as BMW's version of the Countryman. The platform might explain the proportions of a tall and bulbous hatchback with some softroad ability, but the design is a compact crossover trying very hard to look angry, as if to distance itself from the cute looks of the Countryman. There is plenty of plastic along the wheelarches, sills and doors to make it look more outdoorsy (in the same manner that Subaru has been practicing this art), but the ride height takes this intention only so far. For all the angry lines of the front fascia trying their best to look mean the X2 seems to know its limits when it comes to off-roading, and its standard ride height makes the X1 look like a Baja truck or a United Nations ceasefire monitor's armored SUV by comparison.


Inside, the X2 offers similarly modest accommodations, once again informed by competitors such as the GLA-Class. The interior design is on the business side -- the Countryman still gets all the fun details -- offering sober German looks found elsewhere in the BMW sedan range. Up front, there is plenty of room for the driver and passenger, and out back the X2 offers excellent ingress and egress for rear-seat passengers, thanks to the very square upper rear corner of the doors -- some other models in this segment have skimped on such versatility. BMW badges adorn C-pillars that would otherwise look chunky, but the high window sill line eats up a good chunk of outward visibility, which has been a common issue in this segment. Rear cargo room is on the modest side, constrained a bit by the slightly rakish rear glass and pronounced wheelarches, but it's adequate for the X2's everyday tasks.

When it comes to tech the X2 serves up BMW's iDrive system along with Apple CarPlay for $300 (but not Android Auto), but with some curious gaps. For example, blind spot monitoring is not on the menu at all, while items like Park Distance Control are an $800 option. Wireless charging being a $500 option could make one fall with in love with cords all over again, as $500 certainly buys a lot of cords these days. Options certainly add up quickly in the X2, but the single biggest option in the X2 I drove was the M SportX Package, which adds 19-inch wheels, sport seats, an M steering wheel, aluminum trim and anthracite headlined, a sport-tuned automatic transmission, an M sport suspension and a panoramic moonroof, among other goodies, for $4,650. The tranmission and suspension tweaks are arguably the headliners of this side menu, which also includes power-folding mirrors and lumbar support.

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The Execution

On the road the X2 offers the feel of a small but not particularly sporty BMW sedan, as the low seating position, short wheelbase and overall height ultimately make it drive more like a passenger car than a small SUV. The 2.0-liter engine offers plenty of grunt, and the eight-speed automatic rows well through the gears, even if the crossover itself won't corner as flat as some of BMW's sportier offerings. Still, it's a lively enough performer, offering brisk acceleration and good road manners, along with a little more tire and road noise than you'd expect in a BMW.

The X2 loves the highway even if road and wind noise are on the high side, but the experience is on the pleasant side with good shock absorption and suspension manners. In town the larger wheels and run-flat tires don't make the ride too unpleasant, which leads me to suspect that it may be worth it to skip the larger 19-inch wheels and save some money in the process. It's possible that the M SportX pack with its retuned transmission and suspension does not do as much as one would expect for the extra money that it costs.

On back roads the X2 handles itself well enough for a tall hatchback and can invite you to push it a little past its comfort zone: Sticky brakes do their job well even if straight-line acceleration is not what you'd find in a 3-Series. After all, this is the pocket version of BMW's crossover and SUV lineup. Overall, the X2 is pleasant enough and avoids the mistakes of some of the earlier entries in this segment that have hampered some of their appeal: BMW has clearly spent time studying what worked and what didn't work with segment rivals from up and down the autobahn. The X2 gets more right than most of its competition when it comes to the driving experience, even in a segment that can seem a little silly at times.

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The Takeaway

The X2 is a lively driver that offers taut chassis control, sharp handling and a premium interior. The versatility of this bodystyle is a feature that should make it very popular, or at least could make it popular were it priced more like a Subaru. The X2 shines as a cheerful tall city hatch -- a segment dominated by the Mercedes B-Class and various French cars across the Atlantic -- and in a vacuum it serves up plenty of good reasons to own one.

As such, I suspect it will suffer from the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Problem: A little too expensive to battle non-luxury competitors, and too small and practical to be let into The Real BMW Club. That's a shame, because this is a genuinely fun car.

Vehicle Model Information


BASE PRICE: $39,395

AS TESTED PRICE: $45,000 (est)

POWERTRAIN: 2.0-liter turbocharged I4, 8-speed automatic, AWD

OUTPUT: 228 hp @ 5,000–6,000 rpm, 258 lb-ft @ 1,450–4,500 rpm

FUEL ECONOMY: 21/31/25 mpg

PROS: Sharp handling, versatile interior, modest footprint, plenty of power for its size

CONS: Can get pricey fast