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2024 BMW X2 M35i First Drive: More to Like, Less to Love

What the updated BMW X2 gains in creature comforts it loses in driver engagement

2024 BMW X2 M35i front three-quarter
  • Our first taste of the second-generation X2 is the hotter M35i trim.
  • It might have 312 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, but the X2 M35i isn't quite as punchy as its predecessor.
  • Improved infotainment software and better interior materials make the updated X2 more comfortable for daily use.

The old BMW X2 M35i was kind of a guilty pleasure. Oh, sure, it rode like garbage and looked just as good, but the X2 M35i felt less like a luxury SUV trying too hard to be sporty and more like a bona fide hot hatch — albeit, one on stilts. It was a fun little thing to whip around, and with no M35i variant of the X2's stablemate, the more conventionally styled X1, it was a unique offering in BMW's lineup. We kinda dug it. Really.

Now, though, the X2 M35i is a very different proposition, despite checking many of the same boxes. The X2 is more obviously a swoopy-coupe version of the X1, with less upright proportions than its predecessor, but at the same time, it's larger than its forebear in every dimension — including cargo capacity. In fact, with as much as 51.7 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded, the X2 actually offers more luggage space than the boxier X1. Weird, right?

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2024 BMW X2 M35i profile

This upsizing results in a cabin that's more spacious than before, especially up front. The X2's interior material quality is much improved, too — less plastic-fantastic than the outgoing model, with a modern design that includes comfy seats, a generous wireless charging pad for smartphones, deep door pockets and a useful center console storage bin.

While not a fully fledged M car, the X2 M35i comes with a number of performance-oriented touches like a super-thick-rimmed steering wheel with a red stripe at the 12 o'clock position. Chonky paddle shifters are attached to the steering wheel, and they have a rather satisfying action. Yes, we'd prefer larger, steering column-mounted paddles like what you'll find in an Alfa Romeo Tonale, but nevertheless, the X2's up-and-down shifters are engaging, especially combined with the rapid-fire gear changes of the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

That gearbox is mated to a new version of BMW's ubiquitous 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine, which puts out 312 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. (Sound familiar? Perhaps you read our first drive of the Mini Countryman John Cooper Works, which uses the same powertrain.) The 312-hp spec is a 10-hp bump over the old X2 M35i. However, the new SUV's 295 lb-ft of torque is actually a downgrade of 37 lb-ft. What's more, the outgoing X2 M35i delivered max torque thrust at just 1,750 rpm, while the new car doesn't hit full punch until 2,000 rpm. That — combined with a 127-pound heavier curb weight — is why the new X2 M35i is estimated to sprint to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, compared to the old car's 4.9.

2024 BMW X2 M35i in motion

If you don't care about outright oomph, BMW will offer the 2024 X2 in a less powerful xDrive28i spec. It uses the same 2.0-liter turbo inline-four as the M35i, and even makes the same 295 lb-ft of torque, but the horsepower output is reduced to 241. BMW says hitting 60 mph in the X2 xDrive28i takes 6.2 seconds.

BMW also makes an X1 M35i now, with an identical 312 hp and 295 lb-ft as the X2 M35i. Even the 5.2-second 0-to-60-mph time matches. You know, in case the whole crossover-coupe thing — we call 'em "coupeovers" — isn't for you.

The X2 M35i comes standard with electronically controlled adaptive dampers and sport steering, though you can add these to the X2 xDrive28i via a $2,500 M Sport package. The suspension has Comfort and Sport settings, which you could probably just rename harsh and harsher; the X2 M35i has the same crummy ride quality as before. That's especially true with the 20-inch wheels and 245/40-series summer tires fitted to our bright green test car. We cringe at the idea of driving one of these fitted with the even larger 21-inch wheels.

2024 BMW X2 interior

The good news is that the adaptive dampers do keep body motions to a minimum while cornering, and the nose doesn't dive under hard braking — which is good since the X2 M35i has some powerful (optional) M Sport Compound stoppers, with 15.2-inch front and 13.0-inch rear discs.

Still, the X2 M35i's city and highway ride are too stinkin' harsh for its own good. And while the steering has a decent amount of weight to its action when you dial up Sport mode, there's a dearth of feedback about what's happening where the rubber meets the road. A high-riding hot hatch the X2 M35i is no longer.

But, again, the trade-off is that the new X2 is better to live with than its forebear. Order the $1,700 Driving Assistance Professional Package and you'll be treated to niceties like full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance, forward cross-traffic alert and BMW's Extended Traffic Jam Assistant, which can manage steering, throttle and braking duties at speeds up to 40 mph.

2024 BMW X2 M35i rear three-quarter

BMW's updated iDrive 9 infotainment software is housed on a pair of high-resolution screens: a 10.7-inch gauge cluster and 10.3-inch central display. The updated iDrive interface is much easier to use than the last-gen iDrive 8, with individually configurable shortcut buttons and new graphics. The whole setup looks spiffy and modern, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is standard. The optional Harman Kardon stereo is pretty bangin' too.

The 2024 BMW X2 M35i starts at $52,395, including $995 for destination. That's $1,500 more than the better-looking (to our eyes) X1 M35i, and — gulp — $9,400 more than the base X2 xDrive28i. Considering the fact that the M35i isn't as plucky and entertaining as it once was, and things like the M suspension and larger wheels and tires don't help this SUV's daily drivability, it comes off as a super hard sell compared to the standard X2. The M35i might have a better interior, but c'mon, where's that effervescent edge?

Edmunds says

The BMW X2 is a more stylish version of the traditionally styled X1, but for people who prioritize design above all, it's a good option. Too bad the M35i version isn't quite the firecracker it once was.