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Second generation of coupé-crossover arrives in 296bhp petrol M35i form

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The second-generation BMW X2 has arrived, and with it a headlining M35i performance model as part of an initial four-strong line-up that also includes an all-new electric BMW iX2.

Positioned at the top of the new X2 line-up at £47,395, the M-badged model receives a reworked version of BMW’s B48 engine: a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol unit with variable valve and camshaft timing, developing 296bhp and 295lb ft of torque.

That’s actually 6bhp and 37lb ft less than the original X2 M35i was given by a previous iteration of the B48, owing primarily to the adoption of a petrol particulate filter and other emissions-reducing measures.

By comparison, its keenest rival, the Mercedes-AMG GLA 35, offers 302bhp and the same 295lb ft, although it has a mild-hybrid system, which in addition to improving efficiency gives it an extra 14bhp and 111lb ft for short periods – something that’s lacking on the new BMW for now.

The M35i is one of two ICE X2 models bound for the UK, sitting above the 1.5-litre three-cylinder mild-hybrid turbo petrol sDrive20i (£39,365). However, it’s the only launch model to offer four-wheel drive as standard.

Power is sent through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles, instead of the eight-speed torque-converter ’box used previously. This operates in combination with a mechanical limited-slip differential and a range of driver assistance systems, all calibrated to M specifications.

With a larger body adding 200mm to its length, 21mm to its width and 64mm to its height, the new M35i is 75kg heavier than the first-generation X2. This combined with the moderate drop in power means the 0-62mph time has extended by 0.4sec to 5.4sec (although the top speed remains governed at 155mph).

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The styling of the X2 has been evolved quite dramatically, but it continues to have a five-door, coupé-like profile with a heavily angled, liftback-style tailgate.

Helping to set the M35i apart from lesser X2 models are a uniquely styled front bumper with larger air ducts and a more prominent splitter. There’s also illumination for the new-look kidney grille, M-specific mirror housings and door sills and a larger spoiler at the base of the rear window. Meanwhile, a reprofiled rear bumper houses a larger diffuser and M’s signature quad-tailpipe treatment.

INTERIOR

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bmw x235i review 2024 36dash

Inside, the M35i gets more heavily bolstered sports seats than other X2 models as standard, although buyers can also specify the M Sport seats that were fitted to our test car.

Among an array of other unique touches are an M-specific steering wheel with a thick, Alcantara-bound rim and a 12 o’clock marker, additional Alcantara dashboard and door trimming and M-specific digital instruments.

BMW’s new Android-based infotainment is an improvement on the old Linux-based iDrive system, with a simplified menu, greater response to touch commands and generally slicker operation.

The increase in dimensions over the original X2, particularly the added length, has yielded greater accommodation inside – notably in the rear, where leg, head and shoulder room have all increased.

There’s also an additional 90 litres of luggage space underneath the cargo blind at the rear, at 560 litres, expanding to 1470 litres when the 40/20/40-configured rear seats are folded down, representing a 115-litre increase.

ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

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The transversely mounted engine may lack the outright firepower of that used by its predecessor, but it’s still very responsive and possesses an eager character, whether you’re in town or out on the open road.

A broad spread of torque contributes to strong and flexible delivery well towards its 6800rpm redline. Revs are gained in a smooth and determined fashion, making the M35i enjoyable to operate.

There’s a raspy exhaust note to accompany it all, too.

The shift action of the gearbox is improved over that of the X1 M35i (which uses the same powertrain) that I drove last year, and upshifts under load are impressively quick. However, it lacks the overall smoothness of the old automatic, particularly on part-throttle at lower speeds in urban driving conditions.

The left-hand shift paddle doubles as the control for the M Sport Boost function: pull on it for at least a second and it sets the engine and chassis into their most performance-oriented mode.

RIDE & HANDLING

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bmw x235i review 2024 48 tracking rear

Based on the latest evolution of BMW’s FAAR platform, the new X2 has been given a wheelbase extension of 22mm over its six-year-old predecessor, taking it to 2692mm. It also receives wider front and rear tracks, giving it a larger footprint than before.

BMW’s M division has provided the M35i with unique chassis tuning. The suspension, a combination of MacPherson struts up front and a three-link arrangement at the rear, receives new twin-valve dampers and constantly variable damping control properties as standard.

There’s also an additional engine bay brace in a move intended to stiffen the front body structure.

The standard wheels are 20in in diameter and come shod with 245/40 R20-profile Pirelli P Zero tyres. Buyers can also opt for even larger (21in) wheels.

There’s a general lightness to the steering. With a 14.7:1 ratio, the electromechanical system is also suitably sharp, providing the M35i with responsive turn-in and a level of agility that makes it a true alternative to the more accomplished of the hot hatchback brigade.

Its quick-acting xDrive system also provides plenty of grip and excellent traction, although moderate torque steer sometimes becomes a factor if you accelerate hard out of a slower corner.

The suspension is firm in any of the driving modes. However, the adaptive properties of the dampers help to provide good wheel control, with quick dispersion of road shock under compression, if somewhat aggressive rebound qualities over larger bumps.

With the retuned suspension providing lower ground clearance and a lower centre of gravity than on other X2s, the M35i exhibits progressive body movements, with moderate levels of lean during hard cornering.

A new operating structure for the Dynamic Stability and Traction Control systems has them operating up to 10 times faster than before. They are well calibrated, adding to the M35i’s overall fluidity and dynamic prowess.

The brakes have also been upgraded, with 385mm steel discs up front in combination with 335mm steel discs at the rear. They are well up to the job, with a confidence-inspiring feel to the pedal and genuinely strong stopping power.

VERDICT

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The M35i is an accomplished performance crossover with impressive performance and handling poise. It does its job well, delivering the sort of response and grip that makes it a credible rival to the GLA 35. With greater interior space, it’s also now more practical and generally a better everyday proposition than before.

What it lacks, though, is the truly communicative feel and overall feedback that typifies great BMW M models. It’s very adept but at the same time somewhat soulless in the way that it goes about its business.