2018 BMW X2 20i M Sport review - price, specs and release date

With no four-wheel drive or adaptive suspension, the BMW X2 20i has a lot to prove. Can it keep up with its diesel counterpart?...

BMW X2 20i front quarter

Priced from £27,950 | On sale Now 

Is it an SUV? Is it a hatchback? No, it’s an SAC, according to BMW. That’s Sports Activity Coupé, for all those scratching their heads in bewilderment. The BMW X2 is the brand’s sleeker version of the X1, providing a more stylish and sharper-to-drive SUV for buyers who don’t need quite as much interior space.

We tried the diesel X2 20d earlier this year, and it impressed us with its punchy engine and nimble handling. Now, it’s available with a similarly spicy petrol engine. We’re testing it here in M Sport spec, which gets lowered suspension and styling tweaks including more aggressive-looking bumpers, Alcantara upholstery and a plethora of M logos inside and out. 

And there are a number of mechanical differences with this particular model. Opt for the 2.0-litre petrol engine and the eight-speed automatic of the diesel is replaced by a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, while you can’t have four-wheel drive, just front-wheel drive. This is also the first X2 we’ve driven without adaptive suspension (which allows you to stiffen or soften the dampers).

2018 BMW X2 20i rear

2018 BMW X2 20i M Sport on the road

Let’s start with that 2.0-litre 189bhp petrol engine. It has the same power output as the 20d diesel engine, give or take two lowly horses, and exactly the same 0-62mph time of 7.7sec. This means that while you don’t get the low-rev torque of a diesel, it still pulls well in all gears, with plenty happening above 2000rpm. From a standstill, the engine accelerates the X2 quickly, with a racy note that rasps away as you climb the rev range. In Sport mode, the throttle response is sharpened up and there’s less lag from the automatic ‘box as it changes gears.

Speaking of the gearbox, the 20i doesn’t offer a manual; you need an 18i or 18d for that. Like most BMW gearboxes, though, the automatic is very competent and responsive, shifting smoothly with little hesitation. If you knock it into manual mode and use the paddles behind the steering wheel, the dual-clutch set-up works neatly, meaning you can flick through quickly and with very little disturbance to your forward movement.

In general use, you won’t miss the four-wheel drive of the 20d. The 20i can struggle to put its power down quite as securely (you'll feel the steering twist around in your hands under hard acceleration), but it isn’t too intrusive in the real world. 

The steering is well weighted and direct and makes the X2 feel secure on the road, meaning you can throw it into corners and place it where you want it with ease. There is a little bit of body lean that you’ll notice through sharp corners, although it’s still less roly-poly than the vast majority of other family SUVs, including our current favourite, the Volvo XC40.

Then there’s the suspension. The M Sport set-up is 10mm lower than that on SE and Sport cars and is fixed; adaptive suspension is a £150 option on the M Sport and M Sport X variants. Even without adjustability, though, it copes well on smooth roads, absorbing bumps relatively easily and controlling head toss well, although it does tend to crash over harsh potholes and ridges. 

On the motorway, you notice road vibrations through the seat and steering wheel, especially when Sport mode is engaged. This makes the ride a bit harsher over expansion joints and the like. Surface rumble can be felt more than in, say, the XC40, but it’s not too intrusive. 

What is intrusive is the considerable road and wind noise you’ll notice at motorway speeds. There’s a constant buzz from any surface but freshly laid Tarmac, while wind whistle is considerable; both would be grating for any long-distance travelling. Run-flat tyres come as standard on M Sport models, and these amplify the irritating tyre noise. 

2018 BMW X2 20i interior

2018 BMW X2 20i M Sport interior

The X2’s interior is certainly worthy of the BMW badge, with lots of leather and squidgy plastics that are pleasing to the touch. The dashboard, door trim and centre armrest are finished in leather-look soft fabrics with highlighted stitching, which looks pretty convincing and makes it feel like a classier place to be. 

There’s plenty of steering reach and rake adjustment to cater for all drivers, while electrically adjustable front seats with lumbar support can be specced on all trims through the optional Comfort Pack.

M Sport trim gets you 19in alloys and heated front seats, while all X2s get BMW's excellent rotary dial-controlled iDrive infotainment system with sat-nav, although Apple CarPlay costs extra and Android Auto isn't available.

As for practical space, you certainly pay for the sweeping roofline and sportier styling of the X2 over the X1, with it cutting into the boot and rear passenger space. Tall adults in the back have limited head room - even less with the panoramic sunroof - and may find their knees brushing against the front seats. In the boot, there’s reasonable space – even if it does lose 35 litres over the X1 – with decent underfloor storage. 

For more information about the interior and discussion on the rest of the X2 range, read our full 16-point review here.

Next: 2018 BMW X2 20i M Sport verdict >