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2024 BMW X2 M35i Quick Spin: Tinyish Turbo Terror

bmw x2 m35i 2024 01 exterior dynamic front angle scaled jpg 2024 BMW X2 M35i | photo by Christian Lantry
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Conner Golden joined in 2023 as an experienced writer and editor with almost a decade of content creation and management in the automotive and tech industries. He lives in the Los Angeles area. Email Conner Golden

For what has to .be a decade now, BMW’s been on a roll. Despite gripes from longtime loyalists, its gradual transition of priorities from “fun” to “funky” has apparently done nothing but endear the mass market, with the German automaker crowned the world’s bestselling luxury automaker in 2023 for the second year in a row. There really isn’t a sales stinker to be found in the brand’s sprawling lineup — at least, not anymore.

The first-generation X2 wasn’t the compact crossover wunderkind BMW expected, with surprisingly low sales over its run. Critics point to poor trim packaging and frumpy styling that might’ve left buyers cold or confused as to why they wouldn’t just slip into the more affordable and no-less-capable X1. Well, BMW is trying a different approach with the second-generation X2, fresh for the 2024 model year.

Related: 2024 BMW X2: A Little Less Little for a Lot More Money

bmw x2 m35i 2024 09 exterior rear angle scaled jpg 2024 BMW X2 M35i | photo by Christian Lantry

Distinctive Design

Seeking differentiation, the X2 is now one of the funkier, spunkier Bimmers, leaning heavily on the uncategorical modern BMW design language that’s blocky, swept, angular and aggro all at once. In person — and especially when parked next to one — the new compact crossover is a sedated, scaled-down mini-me XM, with similar frontal gawp and bulky stance. Does it work? That’s not for me to say, but seeing as BMW’s “weird” is a winner, this might resonate with buyers more.

Just two powertrains are available, both turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines in different states of boost ‘n’ tune. They’re also tethered to your choice of two trims: The evocatively named xDrive28i scoots around with 241 horsepower, but the M35i’s 312 hp and 295 pounds-feet of torque is more intriguing.

bmw x2 m35i 2024 08 exterior profile scaled jpg 2024 BMW X2 M35i | photo by Christian Lantry

Back-Roads Barnstorming

And lucky me — that was the trim on hand at a recent drive event hosted by the Midwest Automotive Media Association. I had roughly 30 minutes and 20 or so miles in the new X2, so I made the most of it and zipped around quiet Wisconsin farmland to the best of the M35i’s ability. Unsurprisingly, the combo of 312 hp and a standard seven-speed dual-clutch transmission leads to some modestly impressive pace, with the automaker claiming a 0-60 mph scramble in 5.2 seconds.

You can thank the 3,840-pound curb weight for not breaking into the fours, and for the M35i not quite being the BMW hot hatch the M Performance designation hints at. It seems silly to evaluate something so geared toward urban commuting as a pocket rocket, but that’s more or less how it’s positioned.

A Porsche Macan S, this is not — but it’s still reasonably fun to kick around country roads; it pulls reasonably hard to and beyond highway speeds with little drop-off, rewarding a heavy foot and aggressive shifts with a quick blat from the quad pipes out back. It growls nicely, too, though I’m unsure what was piped in and what was organic.

bmw x2 m35i 2024 15 interior engine scaled jpg 2024 BMW X2 M35i | photo by Christian Lantry

Other aspects of the driving experience are less exciting. Steering is light, quick and numb, but the exact thing can be said for BMW’s current M3 and M4 sedans, and there’s frankly little need for feelsome steering on something that will spend the majority of its time in inner-city traffic or poodling through suburbia. Brakes are beyond capable for commutes, and the transmission is smooth and rather “normal” in regular operation, belying the dual-clutch configuration.

So, the M35i is mostly fun when throttled and totally sedate when you’re just trying to get to your next parking spot. The same could be said about the last X2, but the new wrapper sets it apart. If it’s austerity and demure presentation you crave, stay a country mile away from the new X2; even by BMW standards, this is one of the most aggressively stylistic cabins I’ve seen in some time.

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bmw x2 m35i 2024 16 interior front row scaled jpg 2024 BMW X2 M35i | photo by Christian Lantry

Tech-Centric Interior

Ever the master of materials and surfacing, BMW threw the whole darn cake at the new X2. Plastic is king, but the variety of both type and presentation is excellent, with distinct patterns and textures present on the majority of surfaces. There’s striking 3D-patterning on the dash, contrasted by speaker grilles cut in a basket-mesh pattern reminiscent of parquet floors.

Make sure you peek in the storage areas and cupholders, where you’ll notice a fascinating molecular matrix motif on the base’s rubber pad. It’s all so sculptural (and very intentional). Along with all this avant-garde attitude, however, is real utility, with the semi-floating center console hiding tons of storage space for all of your crap and the cabin having a core organization that’s still conventional behind the artwork.

bmw x2 m35i 2024 39 interior door scaled jpg 2024 BMW X2 M35i | photo by Christian Lantry

What’s quickly becoming more conventional than ever before is the X2’s function digitization, with controls for the stereo, navigation and climate all handled by the expansive infotainment touchscreen. It’s not ideal for us analogs, but this current iteration of iDrive is impressively responsive, stylish and simple to navigate. Furthermore, frustrations ebb when you notice a physical volume thumbwheel nestled in the center console near the gear selector.

I didn’t have enough time in the M35i to make a full statement on the fine points of its usability, but there was plenty of headroom for my 5-foot-11 frame both in front and seated behind myself. Thanks to ballooned exterior dimensions that are 7.6 inches longer, 0.8 inch wider and 2.5 inches taller than the SUV it replaces, BMW says there are not-insignificant improvements in shoulder and elbow room, as well as an extra inch of rear-seat knee room.

bmw x2 m35i 2024 04 exterior front scaled jpg 2024 BMW X2 M35i | photo by Christian Lantry

It’s a neat little crossover, but with a starting price of $52,395 (including destination), it’s tough to see who the X2 M35i is geared toward. Since it’s only $1,500 more than the less funky X1 M35i it’s based on, it’s best to think of it as a more dramatic, style-forward alternative, and it fills that role well.

Let’s hope buyers take more notice the second time around.

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