Good: sexy styling, interior feels more special than X1, good to drive, surprisingly practical
Not so good: you are paying more to get less, effectively
All the controversy surrounding the BMW X2's arrival was focused on the fact that it has a BMW roundel badge on the C-pillar. This seems like the minor-est of minor points, but to BMW fanboys (and girls) this was a serious statement to be making. The last BMW to wear a C-pillar badge was the beloved, and nigh-legendary, 3.0 CS coupe. One doesn't lightly wear a C-pillar badge in front of these people. Does the X2 deserve the badge and placement? Well, we'll come back to that in a tic...
First up, there's the question of what the X2 is, and it's perhaps not surprising to know that, technically, it's a 'coupe SUV', based on the BMW X1 and slotting into the range between that car and the larger X3. Previous BMW X-cars with even numbers (X4, X6) have been quite ugly, with their chopped-off rear ends, but the X2 looks pretty nice. It keeps a slightly more upright style at the rear, so it looks less like it's trying to be something it's not, and looks all the better for it. At the front, you could accuse the extra-wide kidney grilles and front bumper of looking a bit over-styled, but I think it all looks pretty sharp.
The cabin is lifted broadly from the X1, and that's not a bad thing - quality levels are generally high and it means you get the latest version of iDrive, now with connected services, Apple CarPlay and more. The X2 does manage to make its inside feel a little more special than that of the X1, though (just as well, considering the price gap...) with seat trim that's a mixture of Alcantara suede and a tech-y material, not unlike neoprene, embossed with hexagon-shaped patterns. The front seats are a little tight across the shoulders if you're a chubby, mid-forties motoring journalist, but for the fit, bright, young things at which BMW is doubtless aiming the X2, they should be about fine.
The surprising thing is that, despite the lower, sportier roofline and the X2's mission as a kinda-sorta-coupe, the cabin is pretty practical. Rear legroom and headroom aren't amazing, but they are better than decent, and the boot can swallow 470 litres (or in my case, one Whippet, comfortably) as long as you remember to set the adjustable floor panel to its lowest setting.
On the mechanical front, the X2 gets the same platform as the X1, which means that it's effectively a front-wheel-drive car most of the time, with occasional power going to the rear wheels as needed (if you've picked a four-wheel-drive xDrive model). The primary engine is the familiar 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel unit, which launched in 190hp '20d' form, but which is now also available as a more affordable 150hp 18d version. There's a 20i petrol option too, if you're a proper diesel-phobe.
The diesel is a very fine engine, always has been, and seems to be much more refined in the X2 than we've experienced in other BMW products. A bit grumbly and growly at low speeds, but then that's par for the course, and it makes up for that by being both punchy and frugal on the open road. There's little else new to report - we know this engine well from other cars, and it's as good here as it's ever been.
The X2 is also delightful to drive. In common with most M Sport spec models, the ride's pretty stiff, but you do eventually get used to that, and it's (almost) worth it for sharp, reactive steering and flat-and-steady body control when you're attacking a twisty road. I wouldn't recommend it for a Sunday jaunt with the kids (suspension too stiff, windows are too shallow), but for drives that are a bit more selfish, it's lovely.
Worth buying, though? Hmmm. A trickier one. There is quite a significant price gap between the more practical X1 and the X2 and I guess it comes down to how much you value style, and how much you value, well, value. Then there's the point that by the time you've specced up your X2, you're into X3 price territory, and the X3 is a superior car in more or less every facet.
Still, the BMW X2 looks sharp, is enjoyable to drive and is just about practical enough for everyday use. It also happens to be the prettiest attempt yet at a 'coupe' SUV so, for that if for nothing else, we guess it's earned that badge on the C-pillar.