Monday, May 27, 2024

2019 BMW X2: Luxury on a Compact Scale

Before the end of the year and before your dependents head back to college, boarding school or wherever you may need to ship them, perhaps you can send them in something compact and easy to park but not totally devoid of all the necessary luxury of life. 

Enter the 2019 BMW X2, the new voice of compact luxury on the American car scene.

Introduced for the 2018 model year, the X2 is the latest entrant in the ever-growing market for the ever-shrinking car that can still pack a punch while packing the jewels in every corner of its existence. It’s more athletic and has more prowess than the BMW X1, thanks to its turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 engine that offers 228 horses and 258 pound-feet torque on the base two trims. It is also more athletic than the BMW X3, which is more of a workhorse by comparison.

Starting at $36,400 US, it’s a relatively affordable Beamer, but there are some notable downsides.  There are backseats, yes, but they are cramped.  And while you get some very, very impressive driving experiences on the open road, inside the nuttiness of the city proves to be a bit nerve-challenging, as the acceleration is just a little too smart for its own good and doesn’t respond quickly from a cold start.  I am all for keeping people safe, period, but when I want to go, I want to go.  Let’s just say I never figured out how to get the most from BMW’s engine intelligence.

I had the pleasure of driving the top-tier trim, the M35i.  This trim will bump up the horses to 302 and the torque to 322, and again, on the road, this is very impressive, even the dead and cold of winter.  (Remember, this is an SUV. Come snow or shine, a fun yet safe time awaits.) This high-end trim also adds a rear spoiler and a launch control feature for extra-sportiness.  It also bumps the starting price to $46,450.

True to the idea of compact luxury, BMW knows how to make a car look elegant and feel elegant inside and out.  When you sit in the X2, you feel as if you are in a refined racecar with the practicality of a small car, one with all the gears and buttons you will need to win whatever race you want, while you will also luxuriate in very finely-appointed materials – metal, wood, fabric, even faux stuff – that combine to really give the entire interior a high-end feel.  I can honestly tell you I felt nice – so nice that I just couldn’t allow myself to take the car through the Taco John’s drive through for Nachos Navidad.

Still, when you are going to shell out this kind of money for you or those you love, even if that love is court-mandated, you should do some comparison shopping.  My advice would be to check out the BMW X1, a bit more on the ‘stodgy’ side but perhaps a bit more practical for boxes and gear and other items that are a part of everyday life for adults who haven’t quite ‘made it’.  Also worth a look in this category is the Volvo XC40.

I will admit, I still struggle with the concept of compact luxury.  When I want luxury, I need room and lots of it.  And if I have to go compact, I need quick and easy cleanup.  I have no concept of how to combine the two.

But I will say this about compact luxury: trying to keep that limited space elegant does make me think twice about buying fast food that could put a stain on all that cache.

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