The car world seems to be completely inundated with dinky, fast crossovers right now. We drove a very yellow Audi SQ2 earlier in the year, and more recently, the related but much more successful VW T-Roc R. Mercedes has both an AMG GLB 35 and GLB 45 inbound, while Ford is busy developing a Puma ST.
BMW, of course, is in on the action too. In amongst all of the above, Munich’s entrant to this increasingly busy corner of the market is the X2 M35i. And with so many other options, it really ought to be good.
It certainly stacks up in terms of numbers - it has BMW’s most powerful ever inline-four, which develops 302bhp and 332lb ft of torque. 0-62mph happens in 4.9 seconds - a tenth slower than the Audi but three tenths faster than the Mercedes. So far, so good.
The trouble is it doesn’t feel all that fast. There’s nothing especially bad about the four-pot, but nothing remarkable either, which is a theme for the car as a whole. The conspicuously fake noise piped over the top definitely doesn’t help.
The engine’s response is good at least, and the shifts from the eight-speed automatic gearbox are plenty fast. It’s just lacking a little drama, a little fizz. The only thing close to that is the occasional surprise dose of torque steer.
The same goes for the way it corners. Which is…fine. Not bad, but not exceptional either. It rolls more than we’ve come to expect from these fast compact crossovers, but it’s not a mess. Traction from the front-biased four-wheel drive system is decent, but not as good as a some of the alternatives mentioned earlier.
The steering is - as is the case with a lot of modern BMWs - a little too heavy in Sport mode, but the setup is fast and predictable enough. It’s better in Comfort, a mode which thankfully turns down the fake noise.
At calmer speeds, you can spend more time appreciating the X2 M35i’s interior, which feels old-fashioned, but in a good way. There’s a pleasant sense of familiarity to it, but the tech is bang up-to-date, with I-Drive remaining the most straightforward infotainment system out there right now. The cloth seats of our test car were a nice departure from the usual leather trim too.
For day to day driving, though, the choppy ride of the M35i could get irritating. There’s an adaptive damper setup on the options menu, which is probably worth speccing.
Even though this one rode on the standard passive dampers, it was far from cheap. The fastest X2 starts at £43,000, and with a few bits added, you’re looking at a £46,945.
For that kind of money, you could choose one of many much more exciting hot hatches, including - if you don’t get too carried away on the configurator - a Mercedes-AMG A35. But if it really must be a crossover, you’re best off overlooking this BMW and going for a VW T-Roc R.