With a new M35i model, BMW appears to be doubling down on one of the X2’s strengths. After we compared a base-engine X2 xDrive28i against a Jaguar I-Pace and Volvo XC40, the BMW placed last, mainly because of its cramped and loud interior. We praised its sporty handling and fun-to-drive factor, but it’s hard to convince millennials to buy a premium crossover that comes with one USB port and a high price tag. The X2, we said, behaves more like a hot hatch than a mini SUV. The new BMW X2 M35i doesn’t change any of that, but as we recently discovered, the more powerful higher-trim model adds a few things that make it even more fun.
First, the 2019 X2 M35i has the most powerful 2.0-liter turbo-four engine we’ve seen from BMW, producing 302 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque, an increase of 74 in both categories over the X2 xDrive28i. That boost in power means it can get from 0 to 60 in 4.9 seconds, BMW claims, much better than the 6.3 seconds it took the xDrive28i during our First Test. But that’s not all you get on the M35i variant; the crankshaft was reinforced with larger main bearings, and new pistons reduce the compression ratio to 9.5:1 (from 10.2:1) to allow a larger turbo and more boost. Of course, the intake airflow tract had to be changed to allow a higher flow, and the cooling system was upgraded to deal with the extra power.
The X2 M35i also comes standard with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission with updated gear ratios, adding Launch Control and paddle shifters. A front limited-slip differential adds more fun to this crossover. Given that this is an M Performance vehicle, the retuned suspension gives it a sportier character, lowering the ride height by 10mm and offering three drive modes—Comfort, Eco Pro, and Sport. You also get M Sport brakes and M Sport steering.
Aesthetically, you’ll have to get a magnifying glass to see the changes over the regular X2, but the grille surround and mirror caps are gray, the rear has an M spoiler and M Sport exhaust system, and 19-inch wheels come standard (you can get 20-inch wheels for $600).