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Mark Savage's auto review column, Savage On Wheels, looks at a new vehicle every week and tells consumers what’s good, what’s not so good, and how the vehicle fits into the marketplace.

2024 BMW X2 M35i review

2024 BMW X2 M35i right front
Mark Savage
Savage On Wheels
2024 BMW X2 M35i right front

One has to hand it to the marketing types who conjure up names for everything from toothpaste to paint color samples. Where would we be without Eburnean? Certainly, signs of naming marketers working overtime in the auto world are plentiful, consider bZ4X.

Think back to the olden days, too, when cars with long roofs were called station wagons, then giant trucks with four-wheel drive were dubbed sport-utility vehicles, or SUVs. Crossovers grew out of that, but where smaller and more akin to what had been called hatchbacks.

But the marketers have been fascinated with initials to substitute for SUVs as that moniker apparently carries a negative connotation of intimidating gas guzzlers. So, GMC called some of its moderate sized SUVs XUVs, as in cross-utility vehicles. (X means cross, you know.) Some of those became crossovers. A rare few makers also have used the term, TUV (tough-utility vehicle) or MUV (multi-utility vehicle). Utility was always the key here.

Now the fun begins for the jelly-beaned-shaped coupes that the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz are creating that certainly would fit in the crossover or hatchback categories, but that certainly deserve their own high-brow nomenclature to set them apart. Enter the SAC or Sports Activity Coupe, a BMW invention, or at least they are claiming it.

Here, it’s applied to the new X2 crossover that replaces its smaller predecessor and one that is now 2.6 inches longer than the entry-level BMW crossover, the similarly named X1, tested last year.

X2 is a step up with a bit more interior and cargo room and starts about $1,500 more. But the tested M35i (M always insinuates sporty and performance for BMW) is the hot rod version with a twin-turbo I4 that kicks out an incredible 312 horsepower, but just the same 295 pound-feet of torque as in the base X2 xDrive28i version. It offers 241 horsepower, the same as in the X1.

So, if power is your thing, and a sweet exhaust tone likewise, the M35i is what you’re after.

Acceleration is brisk as you’d expect in a Sports Activity Coupe, plus, there’s standard AWD, just like in an SUV or many crossovers.

BMW says zero to 60 mph comes in 5.2 seconds, but Car and Driver says that’s way conservative. Their tests put it at 4.4 seconds. That’s nearly the same as last week’s MINI Clubman, also a twin-turbo BMW model, just cuter.

That’s not to say the X2 isn’t stylish in a sort of mechanical Transformerish looking way. This has a big blacked out twin-kidney grille and shutters to aid aerodynamics. And the roofline is lower and sportier looking than the more traditional lines of the X1 crossover.

The M35i blacks out some body trim, lowers the suspension and adds big air deflectors front and rear too. Normally, it adds 20-inch tires and wheels, but this one ups the ante with a $1,100 M Sport Professional package that boosts that to 21-inch wheels and R-rated Continental tires.

Those tires and the lowered sport-tuned suspension provide an over-stiff ride but deliver on the sporty portion of the M driving experience.

Aiding the looks here was a special ($2,350) Frozen Pure Gray Metallic matte paint job that seemed to perfectly fit the car’s look and sporty luxury status. That price seems high, but many luxury models are jacking up special paint pricing. Last year’s special paint on the X1 cost just $650 extra, by the way, so profit-flation seems to be at work here.

Note, too, that most car makers advise against taking any matte paint job through an automatic car wash. These should only be washed by hand so as not to damage the delicate matte finish. On the plus side, the X2 was drenched by rain several times and never hinted at spotting up, other than the windshield.

Inside, BMW, like its German cousin Mercedes, has gone over to the bright multi-colored design philosophy. Mercedes loves red and black leather interiors. So too BMW’s X2.

This one is spiffy, indeed, with red leather seats trimmed in black, plus red leather inserts in the door panels along with chrome Harman Kardon stereo speaker grilles. The black textured dash features dimpled metal trim.

Seats themselves are extremely supportive and wrap the front seat occupants in a luxury grip that includes a manual lower cushion extension to help long-legged drivers. Front seats are heated, as is the steering wheel, but this costs $550 extra, a surprising add-on for a luxury make. Rear seats would easily hold two adults and there’s reasonable cargo space under the power rear hatch.

X2’s steering wheel is among the thickest leather-wrapped numbers I’ve driven, which is great for large-handed folks, but not so comfy for those of us with more dainty digits. I do like the red leather stripe marking the wheel’s top center, but too bad these M-style BMW wheels aren’t flat-bottomed to better reflect the sporty nature of their SAC.

Oddly the tilt/telescope steering wheel is manual too when one might expect a power wheel from a major luxury brand.

The BMW’s dash touts a curved dual digital screen so, nice for the driver to see and clear visuals for the instrument panel and info screen. I even could figure out the radio here, so kudos to BMW for improving that. Touchscreens are the way to go, not round knobs on the console. Of course, the KH stereo sounded grand.

Under the center stack is a wireless phone charger while overhead is a panoramic sunroof. Both work fine.

That swept-back windshield and lower roofline does mean this larger X2 has a super thick A-pillar and side mirror combo that blocks side views both directions. Thank goodness for all the safety equipment here to help give a driver more confidence as he or she pulls out in an intersection without aid of stoplights (assuming folks are stopping at them).

Of course, not all safety equipment is standard on the X2, a driver assistance package adds driving assistant pro, smart cruise control with the ever annoying Stop & Go, lane keeping assist with side collision avoidance and a traffic jam assist program to help you avoid, well, jams. It costs $1,700, but a cynic would note that a few of these features are now standard on lower-prestige makes.

Another $2,600 premium package adds a HUD, power folding side mirrors, acoustic glass to quiet the interior, that sunroof and auto-dimming rearview mirror, plus an interior camera and parking sensors. Oh, and it includes the wireless phone charger.

As this gas-powered SAC is performance oriented, not hybrid thrifty with fuel, I got just 23.1 mpg in a mix of driving that was heavier on city action. The EPA estimates X2 to get 23 mpg city and 32 highway. Premium fuel is requested.

For those shopping for a Sports Activity Coupe expect to pay sporty sedan or luxury SUV prices. However, the pricing for the lower powered X2 xDrive28i starts at just $42,995, including delivery. Yet this high-test M35i lists at $52,395, but after options settled at $60,995. Nuff said.

FAST STATS: 2024 BMW X2 M35i

Hits: Excellent power, handling, AWD, 3 drive modes, and stylish interior. Comfy supportive seats w/lower cushion extension, panoramic sunroof, heated front seats/steering wheel, good dual screen digital dash, wireless phone charger, fine radio, plus power hatch and a fun matte silver color too.

Misses: Over-firm ride, thick steering wheel that needs to be flat-bottomed, super thick A-pillar/mirror combo blocks side view and manual, not power, tilt/telescope wheel. Plus this prefers premium fuel.

Made in: Regensburg, Germany

Engine: 2.0-liter twin turbo I4, 312 hp/295 torque

Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic

Weight: 3,850 lbs.

Wheelbase: 106 in.

Length: 179.8 in.

Cargo: 25.3-52 cu.ft.

MPG: 23/32

MPG: 23.1 (tested)

Base Price: $52,395 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $49,295


Frozen Pure Gray metallic (matte) paint, $2,350

Driver assistance pkg. (active driving assistant pro, cruise control w/Stop & Go, lane assist w/side collision avoidance, traffic jam assistant), $1,700

Premium pkg. (Comfort access key, power folding mirrors, acoustic glass, panoramic sunroof, auto-dimming rearview mirror, interior camera, parking assistant plus, wireless charging, live cockpit pro w/HUD), $2,600

M Sport Pro pkg. (21-in. BMW wheels), $1,100

Remote engine start, $300

Heated front seats/steering wheel, $550

Test vehicle: $60,995

Sources: BMW, www.kbb.com

Mark Savage writes the auto review column, Savage On Wheels, for WUWM (formerly for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and Savageonwheels.com. He is the former executive editor of American Snowmobiler magazine and FineScale Modeler magazine, both part of Kalmbach Media in Waukesha.
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