In a world of social media, Uber, Airbnb and the Kardashians, it has become clear that the generations of millennials is a market force that cannot be ignored. The same applies to the automotive industry. Being cool, customizable and chic is more important than ever before to make the mid-twenty year old look up from their iPhone X and pay attention. Form is just as important as function. Examples include the Citron C4 Cactus, Fiat 500 and Toyota Aygo – all fantastic examples of cars that millennials aspire to own. What has been missing are cars that are a little more grown up but still have a feeling for haute couture and elements of cool. That is, until now.
Meet the BMW X2, the latest in a host of new BMW models. Where the 4 series is the sporty coupe sibling of the sensible, wildly popular 3 series, the X2 is the X1’s sharper relative in a playsuit. The similarities are obvious, as are the differences. There is still an impressive amount of room when you consider the X1, on which the X2 shares its platform, is the smallest X offering. Yes, if you break out the measuring tape you’ll see the cabin has been trimmed and tightened a little, but there is still enough space for a family to fit comfortably for long journeys. What little you lose in space you redeem, and overcompensate in style and head-turning ability.
I am in the pretty city of Lisbon with a Galvanic Gold X2 brimming with options and a 20d 2-litre diesel mated to an eight-speed-auto. It’s all very familiar, no bad thing. The engine is refined for a diesel and the gearbox is something that I have always loved. A peach. There is a vast array of Xdrive, front-wheel-drive (Sdrive), diesel and petrol combination that will be available later down the line. For now the 20d is the pick of the lot. With 190 bhp on tap it is more than sufficiently nippy. 0-100 is completed in a respectable 7.7-seconds. Those wanting more will have to wait for the 25d.
Stats are far from the most relevant element of car like the X2 which is likely to be used more in town than anywhere else. Immediately iDrive demonstrates why it is one of the best systems in any car today.
The addition of touch screen capabilities and the clear concise menus makes finding my way around a foreign city, picking a Portuguese radio station and connecting my phone a doddle. Pootling around a city is great, but to see if the driving dynamics could match the sportier exterior I had to head out of town. Destination – Cascais Beach.
With the Harman Kardon burbling away in foreign languages I found the tight and twisty roads around the coastal hills. A few things immediately become apparent. The cornering is surprisingly flat, the engine provides plenty of low down torque to push the cars out of corners with gleeful satisfaction. The steering is not so great. Feel is non-existent, then again I guess this is not a Mazda MX-5 competitor. The car I am piloting is equipped with a brand new trim level. M Sport X Trim make the car sport with the ‘M’ element and then adds a plethora of grey trim boasting the off-road capabilities of the X car.
The beach was in sight as it seemed rude not to take the X2 onto the sand to evaluate the new styling. As with all aesthetics, everything is subjective. To my eyes the X2 is refreshingly interesting. Yes, it takes some getting used to the statement kidney grilles that seem to have been installed upside down, but the mix of shapes – the triangles on the front bumper for example – is something I would not have expected from BMW. It’s very youthful. The badges on the rear pillars remind you that this is still a BMW from the profile, the new shapes and unusual lines do reflect the intentions of the German manufacturer to entice a new audience.
The advancements continue with the technology and driver assists. The car I am in features a heads up display, lane departure assist, active cruise control, automated traffic stop and go and self-parking. These are features you would expect in a 5 or 7 Series but have trickled down into entry level cars. There is a concierge service and more BMW Connected features than ever before that allow you to start and continue your journey before and after you’re in the car.
Having spent a day with the car I would strongly recommend speccing the Professional BMW Nav, Drivers Pack (featuring the driver assists), and M or MX package depending on your personal preferences. The 19 inch wheels fitted to my test car did hamper the ride a little on broken surfaces but the visual appeal is worth the sacrifice. I would personally steer clear of the 20 inch options as I fear they will make the ride extremely harsh.
There are a host of competitors in this segment that the X2 will have to challenge. The Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q3/3 and others are fighting for the attention of the empowered, earning millenial.
X2 is a new badge in the ever growing BMW family and one that should bring with it a new buyer. Everything from the advertising campaign to the bold new colours will entice a younger audience. The X1 is already a huge sales success and the X2 compliments the best elements of the X1 with a more stylish touch. With prices starting around 38,000 euros you will inevitably see one on a street near you very soon.