Review: 2018 BMW X2 xDrive20d M Sport X

It's a driving machine
by Paulo Rafael Subido | Sep 5, 2018
PHOTO: Paulo Rafael Subido

When I think about performance in the BMW range, the M cars easily come to mind. A stint with a 1M owned by one of Top Gear PH’s contributors left a lasting impression. Its acceleration took my breath away, and the feedback from the road it delivered reminded me of why I love this job in the first place. Now, M models are fantastic because the baseline is already sporty to begin with. Allow me to explain. 

I once had a college professor who had dreamed of finally owning a BMW. When she finally took delivery of her E36, she was so disappointed. The ride was so stiff, she said. Talk about meeting your heroes, right? She paid for a luxury car, she added, and thus, was expecting a cushy ride—similar to what you would find on a Toyota Camry at the time. I did explain to her that BMWs ride firm by nature, and that is why driving enthusiasts flock to the brand. ‘Sporty’ cars have minimal body roll to enhance cornering performance, and this is achieved through stiffer suspension setups and low-profile rubber, which in turn delivers more feel to the pilot. I think my old professor got the idea.

Anyway, the X2 is the  latest crossover offering from BMW. Executive editor Dinzo Tabamo got to experience it on marble-top Portugese highways. Now is the time to see how it fares on our less-than-ideal Philippine roads. Note that the X2 I’m driving is the xDrive20d M Sport X. That’s the all-wheel-drive, diesel-fed, all-the-bells-and-whistles variant.

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Styling

It looks damn great. There is a good balance here, and the side profile is very cohesive. Proportions are spot on. The cladding on the wheel arches and rocker panels remind us that this is indeed a crossover. The planes and surfaces are smooth, while the sharp creases are saved for the shoulder character line and the rear section of the hatch. The twin-kidney grille, flanked by LED headlights, is massive. Did we mention the color? ‘Galvanic Gold’ is its name, and it is gorgeous. My photos do not do it justice. The 19in wheels shod with 225/45 rubber fill the arches nicely. The body sits lower than standard, thanks to the Dynamic Damper Control suspension (which we will get to shortly). C-pillar-mounted BMW Roundel makes a statement. Want to play a game? Spot all the hexagons. We’ve lost count.

Interior

Let’s talk about where the driver sits. The sport seat is nice and firm and offers excellent lateral support. I love the almost infinite adjustment. Combine this with a tiller that has seemingly endless reach and rake, and finding the best driving position is easy. I like sitting low to the floor, with the steering wheel close to my chest. Given my 5’ 11in height, this usually isn’t possible in some Japanese-brand vehicles where my longer legs have me reaching for the steering wheel. Not a problem in the X2.

Fit, finish, and quality is exceptional as expected. Seats are a combination of Alcantara and ‘Anthracite’ cloth. The body-color-matched gold stitching is a nice touch. Three-spoke leather-wrapped wheel feels so right. Paddles behind it control a very sophisticated 8-speed automatic transmission.

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Engine performance

The xDrive20d is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four diesel engine that develops 190hp and 400Nm. I wasn’t even able to put a dent on the fuel gauge during my four days with the car considering my lead foot. Because of its mammoth torque, the X2 will get you going in a hurry, no doubt about it. And then there is its super-smooth 8-speed transmission that has no shift shock whatsoever, and with lightning-quick gear changes to boot. This car was built to devour the autobahn. In the Philippines, you will be endlessly entertained. I was shocked by the acceleration upon putting my foot down. It really is quite addictive to drive because even in the upper speed ranges the engine doesn’t seem to run out of breath. Just leave it on Drive and the perfect marriage between the torquey engine and direct-feeling transmission gets you to where you are going in the fastest and most efficient way possible. There’s hardly any diesel clatter when outside, and it’s very quiet on the inside, too.

Ride and handling

Remember when I said that pretty much all Bimmers ride firm? The X2 is no exception, and because of that, I love it. The sporty feel is still alive and well throughout the German’s stable—and yet the X2 is still comfortable despite our pockmarked pavement. But my favorite feature is BMW’s Dynamic Damper Control. Adjustable damping/suspension is something that once belonged in the realm of supercars. Now, it can be found in a relatively attainable crossover. This is the real deal, guys. BMWs are inherently firm-riding cars, and that is what draws driving addicts to them in the first place. But if you want the full unadulterated enthusiast experience, switch out of Comfort setting and into the Sport setting on the drive-mode selector, and the X2 transforms into a completely different vehicle. The ride becomes even stiffer and more direct, the engine becomes more aggressive, and the steering wheel tightens up. Combined with the 400Nm of torque, the X2’s Sport mode is a fantastic.

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Verdict

The X2 xDrive20d M Sport X's introductory price is P4,390,000. At this price point, the highlight feature for me has to be its Dynamic Damper Control. Drive-mode selectors are a dime a dozen on other models, and for the most part they only control how the car shifts and holds gears, and how responsive or efficient the engine is. The X2’s transformation is so noticeable, because even the chassis gets a massive performance upgrade—all with a push of a button.

The X2 is a practical hauler (the cargo area is even expandable thanks to another layer below the floor), and is a comfortable crossover that will ferry you in luxury and style. The X2 is quick. It’s an elite athlete in a sea of mediocre ones. And if driving is your passion, the X2 is a capable beast that can give you maximum driving enjoyment by letting you feel the road underneath— when you want to—thanks to Dynamic Damper Control. With the X2, it’s really like owning two cars with different personalities.

SPECS: 2018 BMW X2 xDrive20d M Sport X

Price: P4,390,000
Engine: 2.0-liter inline-4 turbodiesel
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Power: 190hp @ 4,000rpm
Torque: 400Nm @ 1,750rpm - 2,500rpm
Drive layout: AWD
Score: 19/20

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PHOTO: Paulo Rafael Subido
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