2019 BMW X2 M35i new car reviews

BMW bills their new X2 as coupe-inspired. Full stop. To the rest of us, it resembles a small SUV. Here’s the full quote: “A racy coupe-like silhouette is just the beginning. The BMW X2 revels in turning conventional automotive design on its head – creating an appearance that’s unlike anything else on the road.”

Why the emphasis on looks? Because, at the end of the day, the X2 shares DNA much with BMW’s boxier X1.

The X2 is just another front- or all-wheel-drive SUV. The latest X2 news is the arrival of the M35i model, our tester. Where the standard X2 gets a 228-horsepower, turbo inline-four, the M35i is powered by a 302-horsepower four backed by an eight-speed transmission and all-wheel drive.

The M35i starts around $45,000. After a host of options, including heads-up display, moonroof Magma Red Dakota Leather and M sport suspension, ours rang up at $55,020.

Other staff views

Tom Suddard Tom Suddard
Director of Marketing & Digital Assets

Look, this thing isn't that bad when seen through the lens of a normal car, but stepping out of any other BMW and into this feels like you've been conned. In contrast to a traditional BMW's driving position, the X2's is upright, with the driver pushing down on the pedals instead of sitting on the floor. Is that bad? The answer comes down to personal preference, but it's certainly not like any BMW I've ever driven before.

Get past the minivan driving position, and you'll realize that this is an objectively good car–it's fast as heck, nimble enough, has a beautiful interior, and gets compliments when parked outside a restaurant. Sure, the ride is a little firm, but what do you expect for a vehicle covered in ///M badges?

If this had a Lexus badge on the front, I'd proclaim that Lexus had built the best compact crossover ever. But BMWs have always been special in my mind, a brand untarnished by FWD efficiency and upright seating positions that improve passenger room without lengthening the vehicle. The X2 finally gives in to reality, and it's going to take me some time to accept it.

Oh, and did I mention this tiny little car is $55,000?!

Nancy Gomes Nancy Gomes
Director of Operations & Events

Good looking car, not too big not too small. I didn’t feel like I was sitting on the ground which happens a lot after driving my Edge all the time.

Huge miss on the backseat and headrests, they totally block your view. The dash was set up nicely, as they usually are with a BMW. I am used to driving X5s so this was different from one of those obviously.

This was much sportier, it had a lot more horsepower than any of the X5s I’ve driven. Merging onto 95 the first time I was very surprised at how quick it was.

The X5 has more room of course, but this didn’t seem cramped. It was very comfortable for me, I”m not sure how it would be for anyone in the backseat, it didn’t look that roomy. I think I’m partial to the X5 just because I’ve driven so many of them, but give me a BMW anytime and I won’t turn it down.

However, the interior did nothing for me, I’m sure in today’s new hip world that is the new thing, but for me, it was just ugly. It was a great drive to and from Orlando, which we all know can totally suck, but in this car, it just kinda flew down the highway.

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

The M version of the X2 displays a lot of classic M characteristics. It looks good, it makes racy sounds, and it pulls strongly. It’s the right size for my life.

But here’s the big but: It doesn’t really feel like an M. Or even a BMW, for that matter.

First impression: For a small SUV, it looks good. I wasn’t enamored with the side-mounted Roundels at first, but it’s an attractive vehicle. Extra props for the aggressive wheel and brake package.

Our tester wore white paint along with a striking dark red interior. BMW calls it Magma Red Dakota. Looks good. Very rich.

More goodness inside: The switches all have that BMW look and feel, too. It doesn’t feel like a Lexus, Infiniti and even a Benz. That bit of BMWness has been retained. From the right seat, it does down the road nicely.

But things change once behind the wheel. The steering feels artificial. A BMW hallmark for decades–a connected steering feel thanks to a rear-drive layout–is gone.

And then something between the steering wheel, seat and pedals isn’t jibing. Again, it didn’t feel like a BMW.

So while it looks like a BMW and has plenty of visual cues, but it just doesn’t feel like one.

Jordan Rimpela Jordan Rimpela (FS)

My biggest takeaway from the X2 M35i? I hit my head so hard upon egress that I took hair off of my head. Now, I get it, I'm 6'2" so I'm not exactly of average height, but even with the seat as far down as it would go, getting out was a struggle, or maybe I was just hyper-aware of my head every time from there on out.

Was it a BMW? Yeah, sure. It certainly had enough badges to tell you so, just minus the Hoffmeister kink. It was silly fun to downshift it manually and listen to it crackle and pop, and the overrun farts were cool, but I imagine those getting old quickly. Good thing, then, that you can take it out of sport mode and just drive it.

But it just all seemed like one big compromise: It looked and felt like something one might aspire to, but once there, didn't know what to do next.

J.G. Pasterjak JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

I guess I’m old because I have no idea what this car is supposed to be.

It’s too sporty to be a proper small SUV, but too tall and dorky to be a proper sport sedan. it feels AMAZING dynamically until you get to about 60%, then it feels like a wet chili fart.

It’s also $55,000, which is a heck of a lot more than my wife’s Mazda CX-5 which is a small SUV with amazing dynamics and also proper small SUV utility.

In conclusion, get off my lawn and bring back the 3-series wagon already.

Join Free Join our community to easily find more articles.
View comments on the GRM forums
nderwater UltimaDork
7/29/19 2:50 p.m.

I'm so ready for the "SUV for every niche!" death march to be over. It's killing my automotive enthusiasm. 

"I just can't wait for the Ferrari Purosangue" -- no GRM member, ever

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
7/29/19 3:05 p.m.
nderwater said:

I'm so ready for the "SUV for every niche!" death march to be over. It's killing my automotive enthusiasm. 

"I just can't wait for the Ferrari Purosangue" -- no GRM member, ever

It's weird to have a front-row seat to the whole show, though. Would I ever buy an X2 M35i? No. I'd go bald. But it's fastish and makes fun noises. It put a smile on my face once.

That may have been the concussion, though.

vmoutsop None
7/29/19 6:10 p.m.

I wish BMW would stop trying to shove this B.S. down our throats. If they would just listen to their customers (at least in the USA) they would understand that we want a FWD car like Porsche enthusiast want a 4 cyl in a 911 or Cayman. The answer is NO!

jr02518 Reader
7/29/19 6:44 p.m.

My parents, 86 and 82, have a 2017 Mini Clubmen.  Think of it as the 2wd BMW stepchild, with the three cylinder turbo.  They love the car.

The market for the X2, are couples with fur children.  They are the gateway to the X5, when kids seats are needed.  The soccer moms, will be in the X7.  They can care less about the grill, they need the room.

The circle of life in the BMW of today.

Dad, starts with the M2!   But remember, they are German and they know what is best for us.  Feels like that way, No?   

te72 Reader
7/29/19 9:03 p.m.

This would be a pretty sharp looking wagon if it weren't on 5" of suspension lift that isn't necessary.


I live in Wyoming. About once a year, we get a SNOW storm. I'm not talking mere flakes, I'm talking more than inches, I'm talking "we start discussing when it's gonna hit a foot deep out there" terms. You know what I still daily drive? A car. Have never had a truck or SUV of any sort, probably never will unless I find a sweet deal on a ramp truck (thanks GRM, for inspiring THAT bad idea haha), my point being, cars on lifts are dynamically ridiculous. You don't see around traffic any better, as you ARE the traffic these days. Go buy a blimp if you want to see over traffic.


In short, I'm with JG, with the whole "get off my lawn" banter. Sometimes I really think marketing departments make "new" stuff just for the sake of things being "new" rather than a good idea. =P

G_Body_Man UltraDork
7/30/19 1:53 p.m.

We had one as a tester a few months ago. Remember when 300-horsepower turbo-4s were angry, manic, rip-snorting firecrackers? This...isn't. It makes a rather coarse noise and isn't as quick as you'd expect given the "M35i" designation. A GLA45 is only another grand or two and while it won't be more reliable than the BMW, it feels like an Evo X for business people. 

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Intern
7/30/19 2:02 p.m.

I definitely feel like the X2 is for people who want to be seen in a BMW, but don't necessarily care about BMW driving dynamics (if that makes any sense).

Of course, I don't claim to know anything about marketing or selling cars, but I'm willing to bet that these types of people make BMW a lot of money.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/30/19 2:40 p.m.
Colin Wood said:


Of course, I don't claim to know anything about marketing or selling cars, but I'm willing to bet that these types of people make BMW a lot of money.

Nice one, Colin. Swish. 

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Intern
7/30/19 2:43 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

I have my moments.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/30/19 2:47 p.m.


Max_Archer HalfDork
7/30/19 3:33 p.m.

I wish BMW had come up with some other name for cars like this. It really bums me out to see the whole M brand get so diluted, especially as a long-time fan and a guy who used to work at an M specialist race prep shop.  Of course, it also doesn't help that the "main line" M cars are somewhat underwhelming these days too, the F8x M3/4 are undeniably exceptional in terms of performance but they just don't have that "skunk works" feeling that the old Ms did, they're too polished and feel too much like normal BMW products instead of some insanity created by renegade motorsport engineers and slipped under the boss's nose. 

dxman92 HalfDork
7/31/19 5:22 p.m.

All these BMW suv monikers sound like Comcast package names. Lets simplify things and have a 3 and 5 Series Wagon.

pinchvalve MegaDork
7/31/19 5:36 p.m.

I for one am glad for all the performance SUVs hitting the market. The alternative is that as cars and sports cars are killed off, they are replaced by boring appliances like the Prius. And the reality is, I never purchased a Fusion Sport or SHO, even though they seemed to be aimed right at me. I purchased A Grand Cherokee or a Kia Rondo instead because I needed the utility. If SUVs are my only option in the future, at least let them be fast and handle with some degree of competence. 

It's also easier for someone like BMW to develop rip-snorting motors that find their way into the 2 and 3 series sedans because they sell a lot more of them in SUVs. As coupe and sedan sales dwindle to almost nonexistence, the cost of developing bespoke components will be their death knell.  If they can be sold in the thousands in SUVs, they will help to keep "our" cars alive. 

Our Preferred Partners