By Trevor Lamenya
The crossover bug is taking Kenya by storm and by the look of things, it’s not about to stop. A few weeks back I reviewed Jaguar’s E-Pace crossover in Corsica and Johannesburg. There’s plenty of excitement in this segment as premium brands are now fighting for a piece of the compact luxury crossover. BMW is the latest to join the fury with the introduction of the X2. I had the opportunity to sample this model at the sub-Sahara media launch and I must say I was blown away by its overall package. Based on the same UKL platform as the X1, the X2 is initially limited to a four-cylinder turbo-charged petrol X2 sDrive20i and xdrive20d turbo-diesel unit.
The X2 has a sportier interpretation of the brand’s signature kidney grill, a return to the C-pillar BMW badge familiar with the legendary CS 2000 Coupe from the late 1960s, an athletic stance completed by large double exhaust outlets and L-shaped LED tail-lamps. It also has a short bonnet that allows the base of the windscreen to sit well forward for added interior space, familiar taut surfacing along the flanks and squared-off wheel arches front and rear.
The X2’s cabin is a joy to be in; its spacious and the illusion of space is brought by the low hip and window line. The centre console has the typical BMW layout, with the highlight being the tablet style multi-information display placed at the top. It houses the new and improved iDrive system that allows you to control the satellite navigation, telephone plus Bluetooth connectivity, vehicle dynamics and the sublimely balanced audio system that will blow your eardrums away with rich bass and treble notes. I personally liked the wireless charging function located in the centre armrest binnacle, as it charged my phone without the hustle of attaching USB cables to the ports.
The fully digitized instrument binnacle displays all vital information in clear and legible manner, paired with the full colour heads-up display ensures the driver concentrates on the road without getting any distractions. The front seats are comfortable and positioned lower for a sportier feel; and one can adjust lumbar and height electrically although the lower specification model has the traditional manual seat adjustment. Surprisingly the rear seat layout allows taller passengers to have ample head and leg room, something the rival E-Pace struggles to do.
The BMW X2 will be available in M Sport and M Sport X trim packages. Sub-Sahara Africa will get two engine derivatives initially, starting with front-wheel-drive sDrive20i petrol derivative churning 141 kW/280 Nm, with a fuel consumption range of and paired to 7-speed Steptronic dual-clutch transmission.
The xDrive20d turbo diesel derivative produces 140 kW/400 Nm and comes equipped with xDrive “intelligent all-wheel drive” and features an 8-speed ZF sourced transmission. The figures might fall short of what rival Jaguar E-Pace is currently offering but the light weight chassis and efficient engines gives this car a claimed fuel consumption figure of 5.5- 5.9 L/100 km and 4.6 – 4.8 L/100 km respectively
Ride and handling
The X2’s suspension is set up for a sporty feel, front McPherson struts and rear multi-link suspension provides for adequate sure-footedness on tar and isolates the passengers from road imperfection. The active assist steering beefs-up at higher speeds and has a neutral feel at all times. I do suggest that for sub-Sahara Africa higher profile tires will offer a better ride as compared to the low profile wheels that tend to bulge up when driven on our pothole ridden roads.
BMW has packed the X2 with a raft of safety features to keep you and your passengers out of harm’s way. Active safety features include Anti-Lock Braking system (ABS), Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) plus the Autonomous Emergency Braking, that will detect pedestrians on the road ahead and will reduce speed if the driver takes no action to avoid the pedestrian.
Just in case all hell breaks loose, then you can rely on BMW’s toughened safety cell that dissipates crash energy away from the passenger cell to mitigate injury. Together with multiple airbags, whiplash protection and ELR seatbelts, the X2 offers a 360 approach for passenger safety.
The X2 has just spiced-up the compact luxury crossover segment by attracting those who desire BMW ‘sporty image’ with a hint of style. Remember this is the fastest growing segment globally and premium brands will not relent in churning out new models. In my view the sDrive 20i offers the best package in terms of power delivery, comfort levels and fuel efficiency.