BMW Embraces New Segment With 2019 X2 M35i

If you’ve been keeping up with the Roundel subscription that accompanies your club membership, you’ll likely remember that the X2 occupied the cover of the June 2018 issue. Not only that, but editor Satch Carlson devoted more than a few pages to singing the praises of the new Sports Activity Coupe (SAC), and even went so far as to draw a comparison between it and the lauded 2002—you know, the car that kicked off the sport sedan segment and the BMW CCA.

Frequent readers of the news and other community articles on BimmerLife might be familiar with my affinity for RWD platforms, and my belief that even a base-model two or 3 Series can adequately meet the vast majority of society’s needs in a transportation module, but even I must concede a newly developed affinity for the X2. Individuals following along with periodical sales figures put out by BMW are well aware of the fact that cars like the X3 are leading the way in terms of volume, and the X2, which became available earlier this year, has been a smash hit since it hit the market.

BMW knows it too, and the top demographic shelling out for a new X2 is around the same age as the generation was which put the 2002 on a pedestal 50 years back. Those who read Satch’s article will recall his mentioning the underlying MINI-derived platform which uses a transverse-mounted B48 twin-cam, TwinPower Turbo four as precluding the X2 from ever coming with a six cylinder that wouldn’t have to labor as much when it came to motivating the 3,700-poound crossover. BMW may or may not have been paying close attention or perhaps simply had plans of their own, but the latest news is that an X2 M35i has been confirmed for the 2019 model year, and it comes motivated by the very first M Performance four-cylinder engine, which happens to be quite powerful.

BMW says the exterior styling of the X2 M35i is based directly on the existing X2 M Sport package, but with a healthy amount of additions which do their part to set the vehicle apart from its more pedestrian stablemates. Cerium Grey, the same tone used on the wheels of the M850i is strategically placed on the front end in places like the kidney grille surround and front air intake fascia, in addition to covering the upper portions of the mirror caps and optional twenty-inch M Sport lightly alloy style 721M wheels. Headlights are full LED, and the fog lamps benefit from the same technology.

Nineteen-inch Orbit Grey M Sport light alloy style 715M wheels are standard, but whether or not customers stay with them or choose the upsized option, brakes make use of large, multi-piston calipers in the front finished in a familiar blue color. While entry-level versions of the X2 have partially color-matched rocker panels beneath a contrasting swath of matte vinyl, the hotter M35i uses more Cerium Grey to transform the side profile.

The rear end appears significantly more aggressive than the rest of the lineup, thanks to a Cerium Grey M Sport diffusor framing the dual exhaust pipes, and a nicely sculpted roof spoiler higher up. Those with sharp eyes will also spot a slightly altered X2 badge which seems a bit more defined in its appearance, while the same applies to the M35i badge on the right, which takes the place of an xDrive badge on other models.

It’s no secret that BMW’s current naming scheme reserves the even numbers for slightly upmarket coupes, and the X2 can perhaps best be thought of as a smaller scale, entry-level version of the X4 or X6. As such, even the most basic interior still offers a bit more way in the way of comfort and luxury than an X1 or X3, for example. Headlining matters for the X2 M35i are M Sport leather seats, which are certainly attention-getting when wrapped in Magma Red Dakota Leather as seen above. While their shape might mimic that of what’s seen in the larger X line crossover coupes, BMW is billing them as a first for any of their vehicles, with excellent looks and great support to match, along with a high degree of adjustability. Tech has been improved as well, in the form of an optional full-color Head-Up display while the expected ConnectedDrive, CarPlay and more are also available. Driver assistance comes in the form of camera-based systems like Forward Collision Warning with City Collision Mitigation and Lane Departure Warning.

Onto the good stuff; like what makes it go. The plastic engine cover pictured below is a first for BMW in that it uses faux carbon fiber inserts and lettering to denote what sits beneath. Internally coded B48A20O0, the 2-liter DOHC sixteen valve four is based on the B48 which succeeded the N20, and uses the same closed-deck, modular design as the B58 six cylinder and B38 three. Output is a staggering 302 hp from 5,000 to 6,250 rpm, while torque is also seriously impressive at 332 lb. ft., available from 1,750 to 4,500 revs—for those keeping track, both of those figures eclipse the base output of the N54 and N55 six cylinder engines, which ushered in the turbocharged, direct-injection era for BMW. On a more meaningful scale, the next most powerful F39 X2 model is the sDrive28i, which makes 74 fewer horses and pound feet of torque. This juiced version of the two-liter B48 naturally makes higher boost from its larger turbo, but also benefits from supporting changes like a high-flow intake, strengthened crankshaft, enlarged main bearings and reduced compression among more.

Responsible for putting all of that power and torque to the ground is standard xDrive, but the system on the X235i adds an all-new M Sport Differential for the front axle. The front differential, a first ever from BMW, uses a Torsen-based design and offers up to 39% lockup under the proper circumstances. An eight-speed automatic by ZF is, of course, part of the equation as well, but the one for the M Performance X2 offers launch control and shortened gearing from first through fifth, allowing the new segment-topping X2 to sprint from zero to 60 mph in a published (and likely conservative) 4.9 seconds.

Circling back to the 2002 comparison and conceding a strong appreciation for X2, it’s become undeniable that things are now headed in a more upright direction as wagons and sedans fall by the wayside in favor of SAVs, SACs and the derivatives among them. With this in mind, the X2 M35i seems like a well-prepared extension of what’s already proving to be a very popular item on BMW Center lots which is somehow achieving success in a market of individuals who seem to be eschewing the idea of a personal automobile all together. We applaud the effort, and look forward to getting behind the wheel before long.—Alex Tock

[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]

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