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Used test: BMW X2 vs Volvo XC40

You can save more than £10,000 on either of these prestige family SUVs by buying used, but which car should you choose? We have the answer...

BMW X2 vs Volvo XC40

The Contenders

BMW X2 xDrive20d M Sport

List price when new £37,530
Price today £23,000*
Available from 2018-present

Does the X2 have the substance to back up its sporty style and driving experience?

Volvo XC40 D4 R-Design Pro

List price when new £36,870
Price today £25,000*
Available from 2018-present

Our former What Car? Car of the Year is practical, plush and comfortable. 

*Price today is based on a 2018 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

To play superheroes, actors have to get in tip-top shape so they look leaner and more muscular – and it's a similar story with the BMW X2. The X2 is based on the BMW X1 but trades some of that car's practicality for a sharper focus on sportiness. It's sleeker and more athletic, making it better suited to Hollywood stardom.    

What if you want a Professor X rather than a Wolverine? Well, the Volvo XC40 may not be as butch as the X2, but it harnesses the power of Swedish common sense to deliver a luxurious interior, a smooth ride and comprehensive safety kit.

BMW X2 front

By choosing a four-year-old example of either, you can enjoy some compelling savings. Here, we've brought the two family SUVs together to see which is best. Let battle commence...


Performance, ride, handling, refinement

At a glance, you’d think that there'd be very little to separate the BMW X2 and the Volvo XC40 for performance. After all, our protagonists both have 2.0-litre diesel engines with similar muscle and both send drive to all four wheels via an automatic gearbox. They're also about the same size.

New BMW X2 & Jaguar E-Pace vs Volvo XC40

The X2 is lighter and therefore quicker. It can sprint from 0-60mph in a hot hatch-rivalling 7.6sec, while the XC40 manages the dash in a still-respectable 8.4sec. That same order is repeated in rolling acceleration tests (30-70mph), with the XC40 being not too far behind the X2.

The XC40 can be a bit dithery when you initially push the accelerator pedal, while the X2 responds much more quickly and really thumps up through the gears in Sport mode. The X2’s gearbox is the smoothest in more relaxed driving, but the XC40 slurs pleasingly between ratios too.

In corners, the X2 is more impressive than the XC40. Its steering weights up nicely at all speeds, so it’s easy to place the car’s nose precisely. If you pitch it into a corner with gusto, there’s a small amount of body lean before it settles and sails around with ease.

New BMW X2 & Jaguar E-Pace vs Volvo XC40

Indeed, the way the X2’s front end hangs on to your line through corners genuinely puts a smile on your face. It's more like a sporty hatchback than a family SUV. That said, it is a good few inches lower than the XC40, giving it a big advantage.

The XC40 handles nicely and is very grippy, but it's not much fun to drive briskly. That's partly down to the light steering, which gives little sense of connection to the front wheels. Still, it’s safe and secure, with no nasty vices.

The X2 doesn’t ride very well. Even if you find a used car fitted with the optional-from-new switchable dampers set to their most comfortable setting, it crashes over imperfections on urban roads. It improves at higher speeds, but the ride stays firm.

Volvo XC40 rear

The XC40 has a tendency to sway from side to side, but otherwise it is much more comfortable, absorbing bumps and potholes well. That's a remarkable achievement given that it comes on big 20in wheels as standard.

The penalty for those big rims is a fair bit of road noise at 70mph, although the XC40 is the quieter of the two at 30mph. In fact, the X2 is the noisiest at all speeds, with constant tyre roar over all road surfaces.

Next: What are they like inside? >>

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