BMW X2 M35i: A crossover that’s actually, honestly fun

Posted by Shane Kalicharan about 11 months ago

The crossover is king. There’s no denying it. North Americans have embraced, and will continue to embrace the ubiquitous (and sometimes loosely defined) vehicle class. It’s become such that even formerly iconic cars like Mitsubishi’s Lancer have been reborn as a crossover. The market is saturated with choices and for the most part, it’s hard to go wrong if that’s the kind of vehicle you’re looking for. The formula has become almost cookie cutter in the sense that crossovers really all fill the same purpose and in many ways, drive and operate on the same level. Usually absent from that level is fun and performance. So what happens when you slap a partial M-badge on a crossover?

When we first tested BMW’s X2, we found it a bit lacking in all out performance, but with the right options, it at least still handled well. And to be fair, for someone in the market for a crossover, performance isn’t exactly a priority. But BMW decided to ignore that, and thus, the new X2 M35i was born. BMW purists might think the “35” in the model designation means the 4-cylinder X2 got two more cylinders added, but it’s not the case. Instead, the Bavarians fitted what they say is their most powerful 4-cylinder engine yet, a 302 horsepower, 332 lb-ft 2.0L turbocharged powerplant. With the new engine, BMW say it’ll hit 100 km/h from a standstill in under 5 seconds. BMW also tweaked the suspension, handling and fitted a lovely big brake kit, complete with dark blue M-badge-adorned calipers behind 19-inch alloys, an M-tuned exhaust and of course, the aggressively styled aerodynamic features like a rear spoiler.

The tweaks continue inside as well, with sportier, more aggressively bolstered seats available. They give the right amount of squeeze and support without it being strangling. But with an integrated headrest, it might potentially be trouble for taller people. You can easily stick with the standard seats though. We still found them comfortable on the earlier X2. You can also get an interior trimmed in “magma red” Dakota leather with some black contrast trim. It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste. It’s basically an orange leather interior. Orange is my favourite colour so I personally loved it. But again, not for everyone. But that’s okay, because other more standard options are there too.

So how does the M-adorned X2 perform? Really, really well. On paper the figures aren’t mindblowing. But the experience of pushing the car is very well done. Put it in sport mode and the exhaust gets loud and crackly. The steering firms up, the transmission feels more aggressive and the throttle seems to be more responsive. It’s just a fun time behind the wheel.

It may be a bit polarizing but we like the look of the X2. Even more so in this M35i trim. The touch of aggression with the aero pieces, gold-gray grille and mirror accents and bigger wheels make a big difference on this little crossover. There’s not too much competition with the X2 M35i either so there is something of an air of exclusivity. For now. But as in the earlier X2, the cost can add up faster than you might expect. Our tester rang in at just under $57,000 – nearly $10-grand up from the base price. But I can’t remember the last time I genuinely loved driving a crossover so much. Orange interior and all.

BMW, BMW Review, Car Review, BMW X2 M35i, BMW M, Crossover, Crossover Review

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