When it comes to coupe-SUVs, the BMW X2 sDrive18i proves less truly is more
If you can’t make up your mind, then having everything seems like a good idea.
That’s the guiding principle behind coupe-SUVs, though the actual success of realising it is mixed – aphorisms involving the key words ‘cooks+broth’ and ‘Jack+trades’ come to mind.
BMW pioneered the segment with the X6, then the smaller X4. The latter we tested in the new second-gen iteration in Singapore very recently, and found it a good SUV, but merely so-so as a coupe.
Its small brother, the X2, launched in Singapore last year. Closely related to the X1 small luxury SUV, it also runs on the BMW Group’s UKL small car platform and drivetrain tech, which is also shared with Mini.
Above: The more powerful 192hp BMW X2 sDrive20i – click on the photo to read our review, or watch our video review below
We tested the more expensive X2 sDrive20i powered by a 192hp, 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder engine and haven’t had the chance to try the less powerful model, the X2 sDrive18i until now.
That’s a pity because the X2 sDrive18i proves firmly that less is very much more.
In terms of appearance, both X2 models sold here in Singapore come only in M Sport X trim, which means the same 19-inch wheels, contrast colour fenders, and Frozen Grey front grille that makes the yellow-gold car look a bit like a famous cartoon character.
That’s not a problem in black, the car pulls off the coupe-SUV look wrought small without looking mis-proportioned. If badge recognition is important to you, it’s the only BMW with four badges, since it has two extra roundels on its C-pillars in a nod to the M1 coupe.
Compared to the 20i, the 18i model only lacks the hatch-top spoiler and dual tailpipes.
The interior’s identical too, presenting a more polished experience than the X1 thanks to mood lighting, hexagon-themed trim and upholstery, and the gloss black instruments.
There’s plenty of space for rear occupants too, headroom isn’t an issue even with tall people, and 470-litres of boot space (expandable to 1,335-litres) only trails the X1 by 35-litres. It even has extra space under the boot floor, and an automatic tailgate.
Of course the real magic, the ‘coupe’ side of the equation, is how it drives. It may only have 140hp compared to 192hp, but the 1.5-litre, three-cylinder engine has always been one of the BMW Group’s best, as seen in Mini Cooper models – such as the Countryman SUV and Convertible.
There’s a shadow of the off-beat burble that makes Triumph’s modern bikes sound so good ( Audi pulls the same odd-cylinders trick with its inline five engine too) but even that’s enough to make the 18i sound more fun and characterful than pretty much any inline four, so you hardly notice that it’s slower than the 20i at all.
Its feisty torque delivery and interesting soundtrack pair nicely with the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, purring and blurping if you hold the gears and shift late, but it also imbues the X2 with a character and fun that’s almost entirely absent in small to mid-sized luxury cars not of the high-performance, and high price, ilk.
The way it rabbits round corners will put a smile on your face too, the steering and handling have a directness that’s absent in the X1 – not something you can say about the X4 with regards to its ‘normal’ brother, the X3.
The trade-offs are the same, so we repeat what we said of the X2 sDrive20i:
“Which isn’t to say the X2 is faultless either – there’ still the ‘crossover crash’ and busy ride, the windows are small, the A-pillars thick, and it’s not particularly quiet nor refined – but at least a driver clearly knows the positives he or she receives as a trade-off.”
The trade-off is even less, considering the X2 sDrive18i costs $22k less than the X2 sDrive20i, the price difference being exaggerated by the 18i’s VES neutral rating avoiding a $10k penalty unlike the 20i.
Since BMW is the only carmaker with a small coupe-SUV (the closest competitor is the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe, which is one size up) that makes the X2 sDrive18i the least expensive – and most bang for your buck – car in the coupe-SUV category.
The X2 is the best example of a coupe-SUV to date, and the X2 sDrive18i, by delivering even more driver fun for your dollar, is the one to get.
BMW X2 sDrive18i M Sport X
|Engine||1,499cc, inline 3, turbocharged|
|Power||140hp at 4600-6500rpm|
|Torque||220Nm at 1480-4200rpm|
|VES Band / CO2||B / 143g/km|
|Agent||Performance Motors Limited|
|Price||S$167,888 with COE|