This little SUV, or ‘Sports Activity Coupe’ if you’re BMW’s apparently acronym-blind marketing team, is the 2019 BMW X2 M35i xDrive, and it houses the most powerful four-cylinder engine ever found in a production BMW.
Based on the Mini Countryman, it’s the newest part of BMW’s fast SUV onslaught until the X3/X4 M shows up on local shores. It’s also priced just north of where the outgoing BMW M140i sat.
Does that mean BMW wants this to be its new hot hatch? We’re not convinced, but that’s not to say the M35i isn’t fun.
The highlight of the car is its 2.0-litre turbo unit, producing 225kW (112.6kW-per-litre!). Peak torque arrives at 1750rpm, so despite an occasionally rebellious ‘box it’s rather quick off the mark.
The 0-100km/h sprint takes just 4.9 seconds, but the feeling of speed could be a placebo induced by the rorty exhaust, producing almost AMG-like crackles and pops.
Through bends and twisty roads, especially if they’re rough (read: Australian), the M35i’s ‘big hot hatch’ vibe starts to fall apart. Its size starts to make itself known the more you lean on the brakes, as the extra ~165kg over an M140i is hard to miss.
The xDrive AWD system makes firing out of turns easy, helped by an M Sport Differential, and given its size there’s not too much leaning and pitching through bends.
It’s not an incredibly playful chassis, and tends toward understeer, but feeling planted shouldn’t really be a complaint in an SUV. Especially if it’s wet.
Steering is typically BMW, a little weighty and numb but otherwise well-tuned.
As for the dampers, two modes provide a ‘sporting’ and a slightly less sporting setting. Don’t rule out long trips, but you’d want to be a little lenient.
We’ll leave the styling for you to judge. Just know the bright red interior is an option.
Fortunately, the X2’s cabin is ergonomically sensible, as is BMW’s iDrive 6 infotainment system via the 8.8-inch touch screen. There’s also a wireless phone charger under the armrest.
Is the X2 M35i a hot hatch? It won’t stack up to be a replacement for the M140i, but it is fast, practical, and dare we say fun, and that’s usually enough for most.
All about the drive on MOTOR car reviews
2019 BMW X2 M35i xDRIVE SPECS
Engine: 1998cc, inline-four DOHC, turbo
Power: 225kW @ 5000-6250rpm
Torque: 450Nm @ 1750-4500rpm
Drive: all-wheel drive, 8-speed automatic
0-100km/h: 5sec (claimed)