BMW’s first Sports Activity Coupe (SAC) debuted as the X2 concept at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, eventually being sold as a production model in early 2018. This first-generation F39 chassis was a small, nimble crossover, coming in three drivetrain flavors for U.S. markets: sDrive28i, xDrive35i, and the recipe with all the beans, the M35i. With a body-height hatch in the rear, it was practical to boot (pun intended, if you’re from the U.K.).
BMW shakes things up for the second-generation X2. The all-new SAC—give me strength—trades hatchback body lines for a “more pronounced coupe silhouette” and has grown in every dimension—well, in the third dimension at least. It’s 7.6 inches longer, 0.8 inches wider, and 2.5 inches taller. This yields a more spacious interior in some aspects, like one-inch of extra knee room and noticeably more shoulder space, but the more aggressively sloped rear roofline may encroach on taller back-seat passengers’ headroom.
BMW also boasts the refreshed version of their premium-compact-segment offering is “more distinctive, sportier, and tech-forward” than the outgoing model. In addition to the numerous exterior changes—did I mention “all new” yet?—an M Sport Package is available on the xDrive28i model, which per BMW, “adds large side air intakes integrated separately into the front apron, a border painted in body color along the lower edge of the body, M-specific side skirts, M High-gloss Shadowline exterior trim and a striking rear apron with integrated diffuser element. Adaptive M suspension and 19-inch M light-alloy wheels in double-spoke design are also part of the deal (20 and 21-inch wheels are also available). M-specific interior appointments include sport seats, an Alcantara-trimmed instrument panel, an anthracite-colored headliner, and an M leather steering wheel with shift paddles.”
Not enough M for you? Dial it up yet another notch with the M Sport Professional Package. This is like the Double Secret Probation of M Sport packages—yes, that was an Animal House reference. BMW explains, “When fitted to the X2 xDrive28i with M Sport, the package adds black mirror caps, M Sport brakes with red calipers, M Shadowline headlights, a rear spoiler, and additional Shadowline exterior trim. When specified for the X2 M35i, buyers get a choice of blue or red M Sport brake calipers (or they may choose M Compound brakes with gray calipers), M Shadowline headlights, additional Shadowline trim, and unique M Sport seats.”
The interior receives BMW’s famous Curved Display, this time showcasing iDrive 9. In addition to the increased cabin space mentioned earlier, BMW touts, “high-quality materials, precise workmanship, and a host of details executed with innovative flair reveal the progress that has been achieved with the new model generation,” which makes me wonder if they’ve been using AI to write portions of their press releases.
With so many exterior and interior updates, is the new X2 all form over function? Not quite, as the xDrive28i and M35i xDrive power plants are also new, both mated to a seven-speed Steptronic double-clutch transmission. BMW has overhauled its 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder unit for xDrive28i, incorporating “a Miller combustion cycle, as well as a new dual (direct and port) injection system and a revised combustion chamber geometry.” That’s good for 241 horsepower and 295 pound feet, with all that torquey goodness available from 1,500-4,000 rpm. The result: a 6.2-second run to 60.
Feeding that 2.0-liter unit some magic beans—yes, that’s a second beans reference—in the M35i boosts horsepower to 312, with torque remaining the same (and a slightly shifted curve). All those extra ponies don’t simply come from a “tune” as BMW explains the M35i’s engine has a “stronger crankshaft, an optimized oil supply system for the pistons with cooling channels, and main bearing shells and caps carried over from the latest-generation 6-cylinder engines. It is also equipped with VANOS variable camshaft timing with optimized oil supply for the actuator and VALVETRONIC fully variable valve timing.” It’s good for a 5.2-second sprint to 60, in case you were wondering.
Slowing down your choice boosted four-cylinder won’t be a problem with the optional M Sport and M Compound brakes. Standard on the M35i, there are meaty four-piston fixed calipers over massive 15.2-inch drilled rotors up front and single-piston calipers over 13-inch discs in the rear. BMW notes,”weight has been minimized and unsprung masses are substantially lower compared with conventional braking systems.”
Power is nothing without control, so BMW M has made “Adaptive M suspension available for all model variants of the compact SAC.” (BMW’s words.) Checking this box on the options sheet provides a sportier ride that’s optimized for both long-distance and spirited driving. Sport steering is included with the M suspension option, giving drivers a more “direct rack ratio.”
The new X2 has all the latest tech available as well. BMW says, “customers can enjoy in-car use of all the apps available in their country, e.g., for music streaming, video streaming, news, or gaming, on a subscription basis.” BMW Digital Key Plus allows drivers to use their compatible smartphone (or Apple Watch) to lock and unlock the X2. BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant offers the latest and greatest in voice-command services. And to top it all off, “My Modes” are available, allowing users to shift between Personal, Sport, Efficient, Expressive, Relax, and Digital Art modes. Pick one to change the X2’s functions, displays, and interior ambience to suit your mood.
If this all-new second-generation X2 sounds two times as good as the first, you can get your hands on one after the U.S. market launch in March 2024. If you prefer less coupe and more hatch, you may need to turn your attention to the X1 or X3. —Mike Bevels