2024 BMW X2 M35i First Drive Review: The Aggressive Driver’s CUV

The new X2 has gotten meaner than its jellybean predecessor, in more ways than one.

byAndrew P. Collins|
BMW Reviews photo
Andrew P. Collins


After I got over the goofiness that was the D-pillar roundel emblem, I liked the old BMW X2. With a rounded shape and long roof, though, that car was more of a hackled-up hatchback than a compact SUV. Entering the model’s second generation, the 2024 BMW X2 has evolved into more of a coupe-SUV crossover design with a sloping rear end and a meaner face.

Studying both back-to-back, I have to admit that the outgoing car’s softer looks are more my style. But this new iteration is cohesive and generally (and literally) pretty sharp-looking. There’s real visual depth inside too, and I’m surprised to report that the M35i model is more aggressive to drive than you might expect.

2024 BMW X2 M35i Specs
Base Price (as tested)$52,395 ($58,695* approximate)
Powertrain2.0-liter turbo-four | 7-speed automatic | all-wheel drive
Horsepower312 @ 5,750-6,500 rpm
Torque295 lb-ft @ 2,000-4,500 rpm
Seating Capacity5
Curb Weight3,840 pounds
Cargo Volume25.3 cubic feet behind second row | 51.7 cubic feet behind first row
Fuel Economy23 mpg city | 32 highway 26 combined
Quick TakeA cool digital experience paired with a sporty car, not the other way around.

Before we dig into how it drives, let’s explore the new X2’s appearances a bit more. The rear end and back quarter are particularly cool; the lights and little tail spoiler are pleasing and complementary. Sculpting on the hood that flares up off the kidneys adds a lot of expression to the car’s face. Scoops at the bottom of the bumper lean into the polygon aesthetic pretty hard, but generally, as far as modern BMWs go, this car looks pretty clean. The electric variant being sold in Europe looks almost identical in case any of you nerds were wondering.

The gray car is an EV. Andrew P. Collins

Why won’t the U.S. get the EV? Whatever BMW’s official statement is, the simple answer is that it was deemed unprofitable. So we’ll be focusing on the gasoline-powered M35i with 312 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque from a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder. That energy gets to the ground through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The whole thing weighs 3,840 pounds, which is substantial but not outrageously heavy for a modern car like this.

Fuel economy claims are 32 mpg highway, 23 in the city. That’s not initially impressive, considering my seven-year-old 3 Series wagon, which also has a BMW 2.0-liter turbo engine, can eke out a slightly better 33 highway and 23 in town. However, the M35i does have a 60-plus hp advantage.

You certainly find a high-contrast old/new juxtaposition picture easily driving one of these around Europe. Andrew P. Collins

The cockpit is screen-intensive but sleek. The sculpting around the door handles looks great, there are a lot of neat materials to run your eyes along, and there’s a cute roller coaster-style safety harness for your phone on the wireless charger.

I even like the center console control treatment; there’s a lot of black plastic but the controls themselves feel pretty good and look classy. Think modern dedicated game console controller rather than the afterthought that is the remote that came with your TV. The steering wheel is quite thick, as BMW helms often are, and the paddle shifters have an interesting rubberized backing that sort of makes it feel like you’re holding a tactical sci-fi weapon out of Halo.

On the dash, you get a completely computerized gauge cluster that spills into the middle of the car, displaying navigation, phone connectivity, and a huge range of apps baked into BMW’s new in-car operating system, iDrive 9.

Analog gauge clusters—old-school three-dimensional pieces with mechanical needles—are infinitely more elegant than a digital render of anything. I know that’s a minority opinion, but I’m confident it’ll be vindicated and high-end vehicles will return to them at some point. That said, as far as digital dashes go, BMW’s are better than most for a few key reasons.

Modern Bimmers have been shipping creative executions of their gauges lately; angular displays that feel more at home in a digital habitat as opposed to some other cars that just show animations of regular old gauges, which is dumb. The X2’s are visually interesting, at least.

BMW’s new digital ecosystem spans beyond basic interface items like the fuel gauge and speedometer too. The automaker is clearly trying to reclaim the infotainment interface from Apple CarPlay being everybody’s default by platforming the apps you use with your phone into the car natively.

For example, in many cars, you can stream Spotify via Bluetooth, right? But you need to use the phone itself to do anything beyond adjusting volume and skipping tracks. Apple CarPlay, of course, beams a version of your phone’s operating system onto the car’s center screen, letting you use stuff like Spotify with a much richer graphical interface and the car’s controls. With BMW iDrive 9, you can simply download Spotify to the car itself, skipping the Apple step altogether.

We can discuss the pros and cons of that in another blog, but it worked well for me in practice here. All I had to do was download my music app onto the car (it took seconds and there were many, many choices) then I just scanned a code on the console with my phone, and boom, music app with car-native infotainment. I’m on board with getting a smidge more freedom from my phone here.

As my eyes swept over the car’s screens, I had to admit, it’s a pretty cool dash layout even if digital is not particularly my style. The X2’s cabin makes no attempts to be minimalist, and I think that’s helping me appreciate the spread of screens here. Car screens could be cool, they just need to be deliberately designed.

Other defining features of the X2’s interior include a range of textures (leather, patterned plastic, smooth chrome) and BMW tricolor M accents all over the place. Some bash Bimmer for slapping the M-signature light blue, dark blue, and red stripes everywhere. I’m not complaining. It’s a lovely pop of color, might as well enjoy it.

I’d been idling for a minute trying to visually digest the dashboard and listening to the vehicular noises. You won’t feel vibrations at idle but you will hear a combination of engine noise and auditory enhancements, what’s historically been called Active Sound Design by BMW or “fake engine noise” by the general public.

Andrew P. Collins

To me, the X2 M35i sounds fine. The engine itself is almost completely isolated from the cabin, but the notes are pleasantly detectable in normal driving modes and just a smidge spicy in sport thanks to deliberate engineering. I’m not offended by stuff like that but it’s just never going to feel as cool as a mechanically valved exhaust or sound quite as rich.

The X2 M35i’s steering also changes personalities dramatically depending on drive modes. It’s very soft and isolated in general, but I liked the sport setting so much better that I just left it there on most of my test drive. It provided a little injection of resistance to get a little more sense of connectivity with the car. Suspension is non-adjustable, and on this M-light model, BMW went pretty stiff. The car is responsive, and it doesn’t let you forget that over potholes and speed bumps.

We had an interesting test route for this car: Diving, writhing roads through the vertical villages and lush hills of southwestern Portugal. In the few small straightaways we hit, the car pulled proudly from a jog to a sprint and its huge brakes had no problem pulling the car back down to a stop. If anything, the bite of the M35i’s brakes took a little getting used to before the risk of spilling my coffee at a stoplight subsided.

Around bends at a jaunty pace, it felt controlled. The transmission’s responsiveness to paddle-shift inputs was satisfying enough to keep me playing with them. But over rough roads, the car doesn’t really relax. Potholes, bumps, and lumps hit you pretty hard. I remember once driving through Brooklyn in a then-new BMW X4 M Competition and thinking it was unbearably rough but forgiving it for being the max-attack Comp model. On this little M35i, I think the automaker should have gone a little softer on ride and baked in driver engagement elsewhere.

But even as I say that, I guess I could just opt for the chiller-spec xDrive28i base car with less power (241 hp, to be exact). That will assuredly ride softer. Though it upsets the purist, the X2 M35i is a type of M car after all. I bet if I’d been driving faster and harder, I could have better appreciated the damper settings and spring rates.

Andrew P. Collins

BMW’s in a tough spot with a car like this—it knows people are paying for at least some sportiness in a car with M badges, even if it isn’t the most hardcore offering. But it also has to deliver on the quiet, smooth serenity expected out of a luxury crossover meant to be driven every day.

The 2024 BMW X2 M35i gets a lot right within the category of “small-ish high-end high-roof getaround car,” which is 100% a segment I just made up but a lot more descriptive than “crossover.” It looks interesting, feels quick, has a cool-looking cockpit and sporty seats. Its main downsides are that it rides a bit harshly and is expensive … but those two sentences could also be used to describe most great BMWs too.

This car is not as uniquely elite as those that made BMW M hot in the first place, but it’s an automobile with some personality and a lot of modernity if that’s what you’re into. If you like BMW’s aesthetic, find the X2’s cargo capacity appealing, and don’t mind some prodding when you hit potholes, this could be your machine.

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