Fast Take: BMW X2 M35i

Words by: Adam Allen

What is it?

The X2 M35i is the latest offering from BMW’s line of M Performance vehicles. You know the drill- it’s juiced up appropriately over the standard model but it stops short of the full treatment from the M Division. Ten months ago to the day, we had the least spicy X2 in the Carpages Garage and we said that “if a crossover with sporting bent with curb appeal is in your crosshairs, you need to take an X2 for a drive.”  That was before this little rip snorting thing came on the scene. The X2 M35i takes everything that we liked in the standard model (including poor rear visibility and a brittle ride, unfortunately) and turns it up to 11. You can be forgiven if you look at our image gallery and nothing overtly obvious jumps out at you to distinguish between the two, but look closely and you’ll see grey side mirror caps, enlarged dual exhaust tips, 20”rolling stock and huge M Sport braking hardware peeking out behind them.

What’s it like inside?

There isn’t a whole lot that separates our M35i with our fully loaded tester from last summer. There’s the analogue/digital hybrid instrument panel, a sharp Heads Up Display and all BMW’s latest ConnectedDrive technology on board as before.The biggest and most welcome upgrade to the M35i’s list of interior kit is the addition of M sport seats, and they perform just as excellent in this application as they do throughout the BMW lineup. Our tester had them upholstered in Magma Red Dakota leather which makes a visual statement in way that a simple black leather motif never could.

What’s it like to drive?

We’ll begin under the hood with BMW’s best- and most powerful- four cylinder engine ever built. Displacement remains the same as before at an even two litres, but they cram a whole bunch of boost down its throat to make some pretty incredible numbers- 302 horsepower and 332 pounds feet of torque. That’s right folks- this little Bimmer makes more power than an early Oughts Pontiac Trans Am with the WS6 package (one of our favorite performance cars of that era) and is faster, too. Compared to something more contemporary, it’s making more grunt than one of our favorite hot hatches, the VW Golf R. There is some turbo lag, but once the revs climb this thing really starts to boogie. You’ll need to drive it in Sport Mode all the time, because left in default Comfort it sort of feels like a carbureted engine that needs to be rid of dead spot just off idle. Coupled to ZF’s excellent 8-speed automatic, this engine is an unmitigated joy to wring out. The fun doesn’t end with straight line speed, though. Thanks to the first ever M Sport limited slip differential on the front axle and xDrive AWD, the handling is astonishing. Your brain needs to recalibrate itself when chucking it around because you assume that something with this kind of ground clearance is going to lean over quite a bit before it transitions to understeer. Expect nothing of the sort with the M35i- it dives towards corners like an overly caffeinated terrier and carries speeds through them the base car could only dream about. We also discovered that our X2 tester performs very well as a point-and-shoot commuter car. See that gap up ahead? Flex your right foot, turn the fat-rimmed steering wheel just so and wham, you’re there. You find your idiotic grin getting wider with each passing kilometer.

Why you should care:

You know the M Performance badges on the front fenders means that things have been spiced up, but you won’t be prepared for the way this little jalapeno brings the heat. BMW curmudgeons will grumble that this is a car that’s a bit silly and really doesn’t make much sense. Be that as it may, look no further than a Range Rover Evoque Cabriolet or a Mercedes Benz G63 if you really want to define vehicular tomfoolery . The fact is that the X2 M35i will offer buyers the practically of a CUV in all four seasons with the performance to keep even the most jaded enthusiast happy as a clam.

2019 BMW X2 M35i– Specifications

  • Price as tested: $56,560
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger CUV
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
  • Engine:  2.0-litre inline 4, DOHC, 16 valves
  • Horsepower: 302 @ 5,000 rpm
  • Torque (lb-ft.): 332 @ 1,750 rpm
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Curb weight: 1,685 kg (3,707 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel consumption: 10.5L/100km (22 mpg)