BMW explains how the first-ever X2 will become king of the urban jungle

The 2018 X2 will soon join the BMW family.

Don’t worry if the name doesn’t sound familiar; the X2 is a brand-new model, not a replacement of an existing car. The nameplate alone speaks volumes. The X suggests it’s a crossover while the 2 positions it right between the X1 and the X3.

Two questions came to mind when we first heard about the X2: why and how? To find out, we sat down and chatted with some of the minds who played a key part in the project.

BMW set out to make a decidedly urban crossover. This isn’t the kind of vehicle you want to take to Moab.

The X2 rides on the same front-wheel drive architecture as the aforementioned X1 and the Mini Hardtop, among other cars. Most models will come with all-wheel drive, a system which BMW calls xDrive, but the auto-maker recently confirmed entry-level variants will settle for front-wheel drive. Starting with this proven platform, BMW set out to make a decidedly urban crossover. This isn’t the kind of vehicle you want to take up Hell’s Gate in Moab, Utah.

“There were two major bullet points,” Julius Schluppkotten, the X2’s project manager, told Digital Trends. “First of all, we definitely wanted to make a more compact model to meet our customers’ urban needs. Second, we wanted to assure the X2’s functionality is similar to the X1’s. We did this by not changing the wheelbase,” he added.

That’s why, contrary to recent rumors, the brand never considered making the X2 a two-door model. We suspect the coupe segment’s general decline likely played a decisive role in that decision, too. BMW also modified some of the suspension components to make the X2 more dynamic to drive than the X1.  “We did this without sacrificing comfort,” Schluppkotten proudly pointed out.

As the first of its kind, the X2 takes BMW into uncharted waters. Its competitors are waiting. It will lock horns with the Mercedes-Benz GLA and Land Rover’s Range Rover Evoque, two soft-roaders that have been on the market long enough to establish a reputation for premium, high-style motoring with more form than function. BMW, on the other hand, is fashionably late and starting from scratch. It’s a challenge the company feels well prepared for.

“We have a lot of experience in entering new sectors. We were always the pioneers.”

“It is always more difficult creating a car within a segment you have no experience in. But, we were always in the different segments first, starting with the X5 and also with the X6. We have a lot of experience in entering new sectors. We were always the pioneers,” Schluppkotten noted.

Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW Group’s design director, gave us insight on how the styling studio came up with the X2. He remembers that, from the beginning, decision-makers wanted a car that’s “quite fresh and a little bit brash.” It’s not a linear extension of the company’s model range. Van Hooydonk drew ur attention to the inverted twin-kidney grille, meaning it’s wider at the bottom than it is at the top. It represents a new take on what is, arguably, BMW’s most recognizable styling cue.

2018 BMW X2
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends

“My favorite part of the X2 is the little BMW logo in the C-pillar,” van Hooydonk opined. “That was one of the things we debated quite a lot in the design phase. Should we do it? Should we not do it? Do we even need to do it? We didn’t really need to do it, but it’s one of those things that will help you recognize the car in traffic. Once you see it, you will remember it by that.”

There’s something else that catches our eye: the silhouette. As you might remember, the automotive rumor factory churned out incessant news of the X2 well before BMW announced the model. When we first heard about it, we assumed it would be a scaled-down version of the X6, like the X4. It’s not, surprisingly; the idea was always to create something a little bit off-beat.

“We didn’t want it to be the little brother.” 

“From the beginning, we definitely focused on giving the X2 a standalone appearance. We wanted to differentiate it not only from the X1 but also from the X4 and the X6. We didn’t want it to be the little brother,” Schluppkotten explained. His comments reflect a growing trend in this segment. Volvo took a similar approach when it started drawing the XC40 and Mercedes pulled a similar trick with the first-ever GLA.

The first-ever BMW X2 will go on sale in the coming weeks with a base price of $38,400. At launch, powertrain options will be limited to a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 228 horsepower. BMW hasn’t announced an X2 M yet but we wouldn’t rule it out yet.

“[Adding a more powerful engine] would make sense with the X2 but I cannot give you any more information,” Schluppkotten told us. In other words: watch this space. Running at full capacity, the industry’s rumor factory points to a 300-horsepower turbo four.