Here it is, the first ever car from BMW’s M Performance sub-brand with - don’t freak out - an inline-four. It’s based on the X2, which - with a transversely-mounted engine - isn’t exactly ripe for the fitting of a big six.
So, a four-pot it is, but don’t worry, the one fitted to this new ‘X2 M35i’ has plenty of poke. In fact, it’s BMW’s most powerful four-cylinder engine ever, developing 302bhp plus a useful 332lb ft of torque.
Power is fed to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and should you wish a particularly brisk exit off the line, there’s a launch control system too. 0-62mph takes 4.9 seconds, and while there’s no word on the top speed yet, it’s almost certainly the usual 155mph electronically-limited affair.
The car sits lower on stiffer springs and passive dampers, and there will be an adaptive setup available optionally. The rear axle has been completely redesigned, while at the front you’ll find a locking M Sport differential.
To ensure the M35i isn’t mistaken for any old X2, it’s been fitted with various bits an pieces finished in Cerium Grey, including the mirror caps, some of the front vents, the new rear spoiler and even the two tailpipes. The exterior is finished off with a set of 19-inch M-Sport ‘715M’ wheels.
On the inside, you’ll find a leather steering wheel with some suitably large paddle shifters for the auto ‘box. There are some particularly lovely-looking M sports seats (see below), a full-colour head-up display and Apple CarPlay connectivity. A lot of that is optional in the European-spec cars, but from what we understand, the X2 M35s destined for the UK will have more kit fitted as standard.
Production will start in November, but European cars won’t start rolling off the production line until March 2019.
What’s particularly interesting about this car is it inadvertently serves as a preview for something else: the next hot 1-series. For the next generation, the 1er will ditch its rear-drive layout due to its switch to the transverse front/four-wheel drive UKL platform - the same architecture used for the X2.
So it’s now safe-ish to assume that the car - which has already been spotted testing - will use the same 302bhp engine as this X2 (potentially with a little more power), be four-wheel drive and will probably christened M135i.
What do you think of the X2 M135i, and the prospect of an inline-four-powered M135i?