When BMW unveiled the concept of the X2 in October 2016, the brand’s chief designer, Adrian van Hooydonk, told us that the X2 is an "opportunity to further the design language of the brand".
At the time he was adamant that it is not a coupe version of the X1 and even more adamant that it is not in the same genre as the coupe-like X4 and X6.
He also said that many of the elements of the concept would remain in the production model, in particular the BMW badge on the C-pillar. And there it is, resurrecting the design detail from old BMW coupe models and giving the X2 an appearance of being more of a luxury vehicle.
It isn’t of course, at least not in the sense that a C-pillar badge-wearing 7 Series V12 or Maybach-Mercedes is, nor is it a sports machine like the 3.0 CSL. Instead the X2 has a clear purpose, to take on the Audi Q3, Range Rover Evoque and 2018’s Volvo XC40 and Jaguar E-Pace.
The X1 sort of does this, as does the X3, but they both have a family look. The Evoque and the XC40 look unlike any other model in their respective families, aiming to attract (successfully in the case of the Evoque) a new customer. BMW wants its X2 to do exactly the same.
Whether it heralds a change that will spread throughout BMW design remains to be seen, but there is no denying that it looks different to its brethren. It is based on the same platform as the X1, but the design is very different indeed. BMW says it is more of a "signature model" that aims to stand out from the crowd. We assume that by crowd, it means the many other BMW X models on our roads.
When it reaches the market in March 2018, it will bring a fresh look to the Bavarian brand with a revised kidney grille and lower air intake up front, sharp edges and crease lines in the bonnet and the option of an even sportier look courtesy of the M-Sport derivatives.
There are elements of 1 Series about the side profile. The roofline barely tapers while the shoulder line remains unbroken as it rises into the rear tail lights. The styling of the back could prove the subject of debate, with clear BMW design but also a hint of Korean. The high tail lights with their L-shaped LED lighting make the vehicle look wider, but the rear stops short of having a proper coupe-like look. The rear window is narrow emphasised further by the spoiler above it.
BMW insists that the X2 is a standalone model, which in terms of exterior design it certainly is. Inside though, it is all familiar BMW. The designers could have gone with funky colours and trim made from recycled plastic bottles, but they haven’t. Instead, it is all a bit X1, actually, it’s very X1.
Standard on all models though will be the digital instrument cluster and the ability to choose one of six different interior ambient lighting colours.
But beyond that you need to dip into the options list for all the cool stuff like the head-up display, BMW ConnectedDrive, iDrive with 8.8-inch touchscreen and so on. It will be very interesting to see what the standard feature list looks like on the new Jag and Volvo when they come along.
Internationally there will be a wide range of engine choices, but when the X2 launches in SA in March 2018 we will get just two, at least for now. This will mean one petrol in the form of the front-wheel drive sDrive 20i with 141kW and a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox that the company claims will sprint to 100km/h in 7.7 seconds. The diesel market will be taken care of by the all-wheel drive 140kW xDrive 20d.
Safety equipment is a given, but if you want the full suite of electronic gizmos to keep you safe then you will have to go back to the options list and select the Driving Assistant, which includes things such as lane departure warning, speed limit info, collision warning and pedestrian warning with city braking function. There will also be a Driving Assistant Plus package, which will offer a basic level of autonomous driving including active cruise control with stop and go between 30km/h and 140km/h and Traffic Jam Assistant which can do the driving for you in traffic provided you do not take your hands off the wheel.
So 2018 will be a busy year for the segment with not only the new entrants from BMW, Jaguar and Volvo, but also a new Range Rover Evoque and possibly a new Q3 arriving too. The X2 will have to be more than just a standalone model, it will have to be a standout model.