BMW is intent on turning a corner, after having lost the overall premium crown to Mercedes-Benz in recent times. The latter was aided by fresh product streaming onto the market in the past couple of years. Now the Bavarian car maker wants to reclaim the number-one position, and the X2 is the first product in its arsenal.
The company’s head designer, Karim Habib, departed rather abruptly in October, and the choice of his successor, Jozef Kaban, is a sign that BMW wants to return its glorious days of fresh, strong designs. Kaban, who is a former Volkswagen Group (VW) designer, was responsible for the original VW Lupo (not available in South Africa) and the Bugatti Veyron hypercar, among others.
The X2 is the first model to be launched during Kaban’s era at BMW, and the company is bullish about its expectations of success. As the number of compact, premium crossovers expands — with the likes of the Audi Q2, Jaguar E-Pace, Mercedes-Benz GLA, and even the Volvo XC40 coming to our market — all the manufacturers want a slice of this lucrative pie.
The X2 is based on the BMW X1’s underpinnings, sharing running gear and other oily bits. Engines are four-cylinder, 2l petrol or diesel, and eight-speed automatic transmissions will be standard across the range.
However, its aesthetic is all its own. Thanks to a low-slung design, vibrant colour palettes, and a number of customisable options, it will appeal to the trendy set, particularly people looking for a personalised vehicle. The X2, which will launch in South Africa this month, is the first model since the 1970 CS coupé to bear the BMW logo on the C-pillar, signalling the return of an interesting design feature.
Much like its competitors, the biggest drive in the segment will be personalisation. The X2 can be ordered with optional add-ons, such as M Sport and M Sport X packages, the latter adding items such as satin scuff plates on the front valance, side sills, and rear valance. The interior can be decked out in various shades of leather or alcantara trim, and colour inserts can be added to the doors or dashboard. AppleCar Play and Android Auto applications will be included as standard, which makes the price more palatable.
Boutique crossovers command a relatively higher price than some medium-range crossovers and sports utility vehicles. However, according to the respective manufacturers, there is an appetite for these vehicles: buyers willing to shell out slightly higher prices in the name of exclusivity. For instance, the X2 will be priced from R644,252 to R696,595, making it clear where it is pitched in the market. Much like the Audi Q2, the BMW X2 will be a rare sight on our roads, which is the very appeal of this segment for owners.