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2018 BMW X2 essentials: The smallest BMW X delivers plenty of driving fun

What is it: Debuting at the Detroit show last January, the new BMW X2 is a subcompact crossover, one of a gazillion BMW (and everyone else on the planet) offers. The xDrive28i is the all-wheel-drive version. The sDrive28i is the front-wheel-drive model and costs two grand less. Speaking of price, small crossover shoppers might well notice in comparing base prices that the X2’s is $2,500 more than the larger X1. No doubt an X2 M version is right around the corner. We even hear rumblings a convertible might come.

Key Competitors: Mercedes-Benz GLK/GLC, Lexus NX, Acura RDX

Base Price: $39,395 As-Tested Price: $50,920

Highlights: The X2 is new and rides on the corporate BMW UKL platform, shared with the X1, and the Mini line. So basically what you’re looking at here is a Mini Cooper Countryman/BMW X1 with a sleek body and a much nicer interior. Even though the X2 has the X1’s wheelbase and track, the X2 is fractions of an inch lower and 3 inches shorter. The X2 looks more like a lifted 2-Series hatch than an X series family member.

Our Opinion: I have been looking forward to spending time in the X2 ever since I saw it at January’s Detroit show. In a sea of me-too small crossovers, plenty from BMW itself, I thought the X2 looked fresh inside and out — the interior especially looked great on the show floor. Hate to use “cute” or “adorable” but, well, the X2 is adorable.

It drives well, too, and drive it I did: 400-plus miles to Northern Michigan for a golf outing (my scores are nobody’s business) and a couple more days buzzing around Detroit. The X2 is sure-footed and has impressive body control. The ride is slightly jarring, though not nearly as some other other BMWs I’ve driven, and road noise is higher than I’d hope for, particularly on the freeway blasts.

But dang, it just eats up big flowing corners with nice, hefty, accurate steering. And as much as I love BMW straight sixes for their silky smoothness, this car’s turbo four is lovely in its own right – smooth and revvy and plenty powerful. According to BMW, the little gem’s tech includes an aluminum crankcase and cylinder head, variable valve lift, variable camshaft timing, low-weight pistons and friction-reduced cylinder coatings. The torque is spread more evenly than most other four-cylinder turbos I recall — turbo lag doesn’t exist. There are comfort, eco and sport modes, but no matter which one I choose the BMW just wants to play.

 

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