At the 2018 Detroit Auto Show, there was a lot to get excited about at the BMW stand. The BMW i8 Coupe and Roadster were obviously big stars for the Bavarian brand and received a lot attention. However, the most exciting car at BMW’s stand was actually a front-wheel drive-based crossover — the BMW X2. Did you ever think you’d read that statement?

While at Detroit, we sat down with BMW North America’s Product Manager, BMW i, BMW M, the BMW X1, the BMW X2 and the BMW 2 Series, John Kelly. He wears quite a few hats at BMW, handling several different cars but the BMW X2 is the new big thing. So we spoke with him about the new X2, a car that has polarized the fan base.

There are a lot of enthusiasts who feel that the X2 is just a cash-grab, fashion statement of a car. They feel as if BMW just made a slightly different looking X1 and is slapping a higher sticker price on it. However, Kelly sets the record straight. “The X2 is a very different vehicle than the X1, despite sharing the platform.” he said. “So, on the exterior, for example, it’s much more sporty, extroverted appearance, with a number of unique design elements, really a new design language in many respects.”

And he does have a good point, as the X2 is very easily distinguishable from the X1. It’s much smaller, far sportier and more stylish. But it isn’t just product-man sales-pitch talk. Kelly breaks down the X2’s new design and how it’s so different.

“So you have the inverted Kidney Grilles, which we haven’t seen on a modern BMW. You have this very pronounced and high character line, so the car has a high belt-line and a low roof-line, so it gives it this wedge shape, which is characteristic of a coupe.” It is much more coupe-like than the X1, which is far more crossover-like. “You also have the Roundel on the C-pillar and when you go around to the back, you have a truncated rear. So the rear overhang is much shorter, by about three inches.”

It’s not just style, though. While the BMW X2 is based on the same basic platform as the X1, BMW worked hard to make it drive and feel much different. “The suspension and the chassis are tuned special for the X2. Everything is more sporty in nature.” he said. “We actually have three different suspension available for this car; there’s your traditional suspension, with fixed spring and damper rates, we have an M Sport suspension which lowers the ride height by 10mm, it’s not adaptive but it’s an M Sport suspension, and we also have the variable dampers.” The latter of which aren’t offered on the X1, so there’s a bit of sporty kit exclusive to the X2. It’s only a two-position system, with Comfort or Sport.

But BMW didn’t just throw in stiffer shocks and call it a day. Everything about the chassis and suspension is tuned specifically for the X2. For instance, Kelly says that the bushings in the front end is tuned for the X2 and there’s more negative camber.

The big issue with the BMW X2 that most fans have is that the brand is becoming more diluted, with too many models offering similar things. So we asked what Kelly felt about the X2’s market and demand. “As you know, small premium crossover have been growing rapidly. And we see that there are many customers that want something, similar to those customers for an X4 or X6, customers that want something that is sportier, more extroverted, something that is more likely to get noticed going down the road.” Kelly also feels that the X2 has a large market, as it price point, style and practicality will make it a popular car. It gives you exciting styling without compromising on practicality too much.

We think the BMW X2 is going to be a big hit, especially after seeing the reaction it received in Detroit. A lot of people seemed to really like it and when you consider its low starting price tag, it’s slated to be a very popular model among customers.