BMW is adopting a new direction with the quirky crossover for the second generation X2. The all-new 2024 BMW X2 (chassis code U10) adopts a mini-X6 vibe and has grown significantly larger than its predecessor, sporting a more pronounced crossover style than ever. BMW aims to distinguish this generation from the current X1, targeting a niche demographic in search of a unique and unconventional SUV. To experience one of the models firsthand, I traveled to Portugal to test drive the 2024 BMW X2 M35i.

Of course, the BMW X2 M35i essentially masquerades as a more stylish X1 M35i. These two M Performance Automobiles (which I prefer to call M-Lite cars) are built on the same front-wheel drive platform and share identical engines and transmissions. For the first time, these entry-level SUVs boast the iconic quad exhaust pipes, a design choice that has faced significant criticism from the vocal ///M community. But does the 2024 BMW X2 M35i deserve the M badge? We’re about to discover!

312 Horsepower From The B48 Engine

First and foremost, let’s talk about the engine. BMW’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder B48 engine, a true workhorse, powers a vast array of models. This engine appears in the base models of the X1 and X2, and receives a performance boost in the M35i versions. In the United States, it produces 312 horsepower, while in Europe, it delivers 296 horsepower due to stricter emissions standards. The torque output remains consistent across all markets, at 295 lb-ft (400 Nm). For the US-spec model, it accelerates from 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 5.2 seconds, whereas the slightly less powerful European version takes 5.4 seconds to reach 62 mph (100 km/h).

2024 BMW X2 M35i

  • A proper crossover size
  • Good driving dynamics
  • Lots of interior and cargo space
  • iDrive 9 is laggy
  • 7-speed DCT has a small lag
  • Exhaust sound could be better

A Heavy Crossover

So, one might now ask: Can this compact engine transform the vehicle into a weekend fun car? It’s important to note that the new U10 BMW X2 has significantly grown compared to its predecessor. The crossover-coupe has been stretched by a notable 194 millimeters (7.6 inches) to 4554 mm (179.2 inches), making it 54 mm (2.1 inches) longer than the X1. The wheelbase has been extended by 22 mm (0.86 inches) to 2692 mm (106 inches), and the width has increased by 21 mm (0.8 inches) to 1845 mm (72.6 inches). The height has risen by 64 mm (2.5 inches) to 1590 mm (62.6 inches), with both the front and rear tracks being wider than before. To give you an idea of the new X2’s size, it even offers optional 21-inch wheels.

The weight stands at 3803 pounds or 1725 kilograms. This is where the challenge with the B48 engine’s power becomes apparent. My test vehicle had the lower power output, which is an important factor to consider when comparing it to a U.S.-spec model. During city driving and in Comfort mode, the 2024 BMW X2 M35i doesn’t exhibit exceptional responsiveness. This lack of agility results from the vehicle’s power-to-weight ratio combined with its 7-speed dual clutch transmission.

Is The 7-Speed DCT Good?

We encountered similar issues with this DCT in the X1 xDrive28i a few years back. At low speeds, there was a noticeable jerkiness when accelerating from a complete stop. In the X1, it felt as though the first half-inch of pedal movement had no effect, followed by a sudden surge of too much throttle. We brought this up with BMW at the time, and they mentioned that a software fix was being developed. Now, this software update for the DCT is supposedly included in the 2024 BMW X2 M35i.

Similar to the X1, the response delay when pressing the accelerator varies between Sport mode and Efficient mode. In Sport mode, the engine becomes significantly more responsive due to the increased boost, which helps reduce the lag, although it doesn’t eliminate it entirely. The responsiveness appears slightly improved over the X1, likely due to the combination of higher power and torque, and possibly the software update. The X2 seems tuned for better torque at lower gears. Once the X2 M35i picks up speed, the shifts are smooth and precise, but I still believe the ZF 8-speed transmission paired with BMW’s rear-wheel-drive models performs better.

Switching to Efficient or Comfort modes introduces a notable change. There is a lot more lag when you floor the gas pedal and the car certainly feels more sluggish. This is when the X2’s weight begins to test the limits of the B48 engine. Although the engine performs great and is quite enjoyable in lighter vehicles like the M135i, it doesn’t suit the larger size of the new X2. The same Boost Mode found in other models offers additional power, but BMW has not yet disclosed the specifics of this extra power.

The Engine Shines In The Right Power Band

BMW X2 M35i xDrive

When the engine hits its optimal power band and peak torque (beginning at 2000 rpm), the 2024 BMW X2 M35i manages to provide a good M-lite experience. Equipped with an M Adaptive suspension, sports steering, and a 15 mm lowering (not available in the United States), the X2 M35i feels secure on the road and behaves much like a sport crossover should. However, I occasionally experience understeering during sharp turns and on windy roads, requiring me to overcorrect in those instances. The all-wheel-drive system is supported by a mechanical limited-slip differential integrated into the transmission, which helps to minimize the speed difference between the front wheels.

The exhaust sound is primarily delivered through speakers, and I must admit, it doesn’t quite stir the soul, even with the additional pipes. This seems to be a limitation of the B48 engine since there’s only so much that can be done with this transverse engine layout. However, it does produce a decent sound in Sport Mode. Speaking of which, Sport Mode is the only setting that allows the Auto Start/Stop function to be disabled.

Repeat After Me: Sport Mode, Sport Mode and Sport Mode

In Sport Mode, the suspension is tight, and handling definitely feels more dynamic. It seems designed with a sporty intent first, resulting in a ride that remains relatively flat through corners and manages its weight effectively. There is, however, a noticeable amount of body roll. In terms of traction, I experienced a single instance of wheel slip, but it was quickly corrected. This might also be attributed to the tires, as I was using Pirelli P Zeros 245/40 R20, and the roads were quite wet from earlier rain. BMW engineers have explained that the hang-on clutch with electro-hydraulic control can rapidly redirect drive torque to the rear wheels within milliseconds, enhancing traction when necessary.

Switching to Comfort mode softens the car immediately, making it a potentially preferred setting for everyday driving, as the X2 M35i effectively smooths out bumpy roads and navigates the unexpected potholes I found near Lisbon. However, this comfort comes at the cost of the car feeling somewhat slower, particularly when trying to overtake. The steering behaves as expected: in Sport Mode, it feels nicely weighted, offers a solid on-center feel, and is surprisingly precise. In comfort modes, however, it tends to feel less engaging.

The braking system in the BMW X2 M35i xDrive, directly carried over from the previous F39 BMW X2 model, provides reliable stopping power but doesn’t particularly stand out for its performance. They seemed to have a bit more bite in the previous X2, likely due to the car’s lower weight.

On a brighter note, the M Sport Veganza/Alcantara sport seats are great. Not only do they have an appealing look, but they also offer significant side bolster and lumbar support, which is crucial for maintaining comfort while cornering in a vehicle of this size.

Quite Spacious, Good As A Family Car Also

For everyday driving, customers will probably value the roomy interior. Standing at 6’2″, I comfortably settled both behind the wheel and on the rear bench. The back offers ample legroom and a good amount of headroom, even with the sloping roofline. At one point, I traveled with two other passengers for several hundred kilometers, and the experience was comfortably accommodating for all of us. With the rear seats upright, the 2024 BMW X2 M35i provides a cargo space of 25.3 cubic feet, which expands to 51.7 cubic feet with the bench folded down. The European model has a capacity of 560 and 1,470 liters.

What I Don’t Like About The BMW X2 M35i

BMW X2 M35i xDrive

Any gripes? Yes, there are a few. For starters, the absence of the iDrive controller still feels odd to me. I often found myself instinctively reaching out to use it for screen navigation or to scroll through menus, only to remember it’s no longer there. While it’s likely that I would adapt to the touchscreen and voice controls if I were to drive the car daily, I still believe nothing can quite replace the tactile feedback and convenience of the iDrive knob and physical buttons.

Next, the iDrive 9, also known as BMW Operating System 9, comes off as somewhat unrefined. Despite having been available for several months, it still exhibits lag and can be frustrating. As highlighted in my video review, navigating between screens often results in noticeable delays, although this issue is somewhat less pronounced on the maps screen. Accustomed to the quick response of smartphones, I frequently found myself tapping a button twice, inadvertently negating my initial command—a definite inconvenience.

I raised this issue with a BMW product spokesperson, who acknowledged the problem and mentioned that customer complaints have been noted. They assured me that a solution is in the pipeline.

The Elephant In The Room – The Exterior Design

If you’re a newcomer here, you might be curious about the exterior design of the vehicle we’re discussing. For those who have been following our reviews for a while, our stance on its design should be familiar. In essence, the design features a mix of appealing aspects and some angles that might not be as pleasing. Starting with the positives, the front end of the car looks sporty and dynamic, showcasing a seamless integration of the kidney grille and lower front fascia. A newly designed split in the air intake ingeniously highlights the distinction between the grille sections, complementing the two prominent creases on the hood. The headlights present a modern, almost digital appearance, with a subtle nod to the classic BMW double headlamp design.

Viewing the car from the side reveals the evolutionary leap from its predecessor and highlights its minimal resemblance to the X1. The sloping roofline is the most noticeable feature distinguishing the two, lending a coupe-like style reminiscent of the X4 and X6 models. Despite the window frame bearing a resemblance to the previous X2’s sleek design, including an inverted Hoffmeister kink, the absence of roundels on the thick C-pillar introduces a more pronounced fastback silhouette.

BMW X2 M35i xDrive

However, it’s the rear design that provokes mixed feelings. The new taillights depart significantly from BMW’s traditional design ethos, attempting to echo the iconic front lamp design but falling short of expectations. In my opinion, a simpler approach with the classic L-shaped taillights and horizontal bars inside might have been more aesthetically pleasing. But, as I’m not a designer, this is just my personal take on it.

So, in summary: “Not great, not terrible.”

Finally – Is The X2 M35i Worthy Of The M Badge?

After much consideration, I’ve concluded that most four-cylinder M Performance Automobiles shouldn’t really wear the M badge, with the possible exception of the M135i hatchback. Typically, mentioning the ///M badge brings up images of powerful, melodious engines—qualities traditionally linked to six-cylinder or V8 engines. Although I understand the business rationale and appeal behind broadening the M brand, a boundary must exist. Ideally, this boundary would exclude front-wheel drive M-Lite crossovers because I’m sure they will be equally successful even without all the M logos.

If they were rear-wheel drive, my stance would be different. In that case, the X1 M35i and X2 M35i would be much more appealing, and I’m confident they would deliver an exceptional driving experience, similar to the well-executed X3 M40i. However, the combination of front-wheel drive and a four-cylinder engine is not as exciting.

Ultimately, the 2024 BMW X2 M35i doesn’t stand out in any particular aspect, but it fulfills its purpose. And what is that purpose? It transports you from point A to point B with added flair and a somewhat enhanced driving dynamic. Given a choice between the X2 xDrive28i and the X3 M35i, I would invariably opt for the latter, as the former will likely feel too underpowered for that engine setup. But of course, I need to test it first before I draw a final conclusion.

Deciding whether to purchase the BMW X2 M35i or X1 M35i is not as straightforward though. The crossovers are remarkably similar, making the decision heavily dependent on your personal preferences. The X1 portrays a more mature SUV image, whereas the X2 offers a dash of mischief with its unique appearance and color options.

So, it boils down to a simple choice: eeny, meeny, miny, moe…