What is it?

This is the first all-new BMW X-car to be announced in a long time. As the BMW X4 is the rakish alternative to the X3, and the BMW X6 is the coupe version of the X5, the new BMW X2 is based on the X1 small crossover, but comes with sportier, sleeker styling and the promise of better handling dynamics.

The thing is, on first impression, the X2 doesn’t appear to have compromised much on interior space or practicality in its transformation from straight-up crossover to coupe-like crossover. This should make it something of a win-win. What’s more, it shares its underpinnings with the Mini Countryman, meaning there should be some substance behind BMW’s claims that the X2 is fun to drive, despite it being front-wheel-drive-only at launch.

In terms of rivals, this part of the market is getting pretty crowded. The BMW X2 will have to bat out competition from either the Audi Q2 or Q3, the aforementioned Mini Countryman, the Jaguar E-Pace, and the big one – the Range Rover Evoque. There’s a new Mercedes GLA-Class on the way soon, too.

Still, BMW has form with its X cars, and you can bet that the X2 will be a stonking sales success based on its looks alone. Happily, as you’ll read about in the following paragraphs, the X2’s abilities run more than skin-deep.

How does it drive?

At launch, you can only have one engine – a version of the 2.0-litre, turbocharged, four-cylinder that you get in the Mini Countryman S. Here, it develops 228 bhp, enough to propel the X2 from 0-100 km/h in 6.5 seconds, which means you’ll be worrying Golf GTIs at the lights. And, as in the Countryman, the engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with power going to the front wheels.

But that’s where the similarities with the Countryman end – the X2 has a very different character. That’s down to the fact that the brakes and all of the suspension components are bespoke for the X2.

Indeed, where the Countryman goes for that classic Mini go-kart feel, the X2 is altogether more refined. We reckon that most drivers will just leave the drive selector mode in ‘comfort’ because it’s just so well balanced. The speed is less something to get excited over, and more a useful tool with which to get up to highway speeds or else overtake. And while things do get a little more exciting in ‘sport’ mode, you’d only really switch that on if you come across a really good piece of road.

Don’t get us wrong, the X2 is still fun to drive when you want it to be. The throttle response is really something, providing big chunks of power whenever you need them, no matter what gear you’re in. And the paddle-shifters on the steering column are wonderfully tactile. This is a BMW, after all. And the carmaker has really worked with the front-drive layout, creating something that handles like its light on its feet, with good levels of grip and little body roll.

The great thing is, though, when things settle down, the urban X2 is more about making city driving that bit more enjoyable. The sound insulation is stellar for a car of this size, the ride is excellent, and the drive relaxed and comfortable. The turning circle is really tight, and because the X2 has short overhangs at both the front and rear, its footprint on the ground is pretty small, making it supremely easy to park. You just get the feeling that the X2 wants to help make your life on the move easier.

Unfortunately, that feeling is rather ruined by the self-centering steering wheel, which snaps back to centre super-aggressively. That’s helpful when you’re gripping the wheel tightly, blasting down some fabulous, twisty roads, but kind of alarming when you’re just pootling about, as 90% of X2 owners will. Still, once you’ve gotten used to it, the rest of the X2’s feel-good character outweighs that one small drawback.

Interior quality and tech

The ergonomics of the X2 aren’t quite as intuitive as those in any similar Audi, but once you’re used to how things work, the X2 has plenty going for it. None of the switchgear is carried over from the Countryman (save for the boot-release button), meaning you get an interior that offers a genuine BMW feel.

Our test model came with top-of-the-range, M Sport X trim. That means sumptuous leather seats, leather door and dashboard lining, a massive sunroof, and a whole bunch of toys. It’s the only trim level currently available in the UAE, and it’s very expensive. The good news is that it feels special – in a way that equivalent Audis, Mercedes, and even the Range Rover Evoque, simply don’t.

Plus, there’s way more room inside than the exterior dimensions would have you believe. The backseats will accommodate three adults comfortably, and the boot space is pretty much on par with the rest of the class.

Tech-wise, the BMW iDrive system remains a solid interface with which to operate the infotainment console, though its insistence on nestling certain functions within layer after layer of sub-menu continues to frustrate. Most BMW drivers learn to live with this, though, and otherwise everything is there. Bluetooth pairing is a cinch, and 360-degree parking sensors make an already easy parking experience even easier.

There’s also a head-up display that not only shows you your speed, but also the speed limit of the road you’re on – a function lifted from the 7 Series, and something that’s incredibly useful (particularly when the X2 is so quiet and civilised at high speed). The large touchscreen sat atop the centre console also bears mentioning – with split-screen functions and a beautiful resolution, it really is a quality piece of tech.

BMW also makes a lot of its new Connected+ service. Basically, it allows you to pair your car with an app on your smartphone, and do things like share routes across devices and share live trip statuses with friends and family. It’ll also sense when you’re low on fuel, and add in a fuel stop to your route. Clever stuff that’ll probably be more useful once we’re all in electric cars.

Running costs

First, we’ll hit you with the offers that AGMC, the BMW dealer in Dubai, Sharjah and the Northern Emirates, has going. If you’re buying a BMW X2 in cash, you’ll get an automatic 15% discount. If you’re buying it on finance, the dealer has its own in-house finance products, will front half of the downpayment for you, and then apply a 5% discount. So, you’ll only need to put 5% of the value of the car down. Either way, you’re looking at a total of 15% off.

We expect the X2 to sell like mad, which will be good for residuals – there’ll be plenty of willing second-hand buyers wanting to snap up used X2s in a few years. As for fuel economy, the X2 is also pretty good – you could get up to 800 km on a tank if you drive carefully. Elsewhere, expect to pay AED 6,000 to AED 7,000 for your car insurance.

Our verdict

The BMW X2 is something of a triumph. In turning the X1 into something sleek and sporty, BMW has created a hugely desirable little crossover. And the best part is that you don’t even need to compromise on space and practicality.

Its one major problem, right now, is that the dealer currently only stocks the top-of-the-range model, which comes in at AED 255,000. Apply the 15% discount, and you’re still paying AED 216,750, which is a whole lot of cash for what is a pretty small car.

Still, the X2 is a beautiful product, drives brilliantly, and is seriously luxurious. Those killer looks may very well be able to tempt more than a few buyers into parting with so much cash for one.