words and photography by BENG LIM

“Beng, BMW X2, Lisbon, Portugal.”
“Yes, Business Class. Emirates.”

Until this day, my being invited to the international media drive of the BMW X2 in Portugal continues to feel a tad surreal. Am I up for it? Is there track driving? Am I skilful enough for track drivi‍‍‍ng? Left- or right-hand drive? Is the car pretty? Am I pretty? Business class? Am I classy? Should I keep quiet in Business Class? Can I run around? Okay Beng, behave, just behave and everything should be alright.  

Seeing as it was my first time in Business Class, I went nuts.

To put it in perspective, picture yourself being able to buy your dream car and doing any type of modification you want to it without any limitations. That was my feeling not only during the flight but throughout the entire journey.

The seat that converts into a bed, my own charging ports, any drinks I want to. Starter, main course, desserts. Wow, is this even work? I went double nuts.

Well I did ‘work’, as I was reading all about the X2 throughout the journey from whatever I’ve collected online prior to boarding. The itinerary says we’re gonna spend a night before heading off to the launch venue, a dinner at night where the car will be showcased. ‘Night huh, I thought.’ Maybe to showcase the new lighting signature of the X2.

Stepping down from the tram, heading towards the direction of the dinner, I instantly noticed the distinctive taillights that could be seen from far especially in the dark. Personally, it looked like a very sophisticated walking stick from Lord of The Rings although it is claimed to be a symbiosis of the T-shape lighting contour by other BMW X models and L shape from coupes. Unique it certainly is.

The X2 is BMW’s first attempt at a compact luxury, sporty crossover that is nimble in size, packed with features, and offers excellent driving dynamics. Think of it as a Range Rover Evoque challenger from Munich that offers more space, more practicality, a sleeker low slung profile and a much sportier drive. Oh, it’s cheaper to buy too than the Evoque, and presumably, much better built and more reliable. It’s also less serious when it comes to off-roady stuffs too - who goes offroad in their Evoque anyway. Even if you do, it’s likely only possible when it’s not in the workshops - LOL.

Nearing the rear profile of the BMW X2, it looks broadly grounded due to the horizontal lines which blend in with the outstanding bright colour options of Galvanic Gold, Sunset Orange and Misano Blue while still looking compact. As BMW Malaysia is only bringing in the BMW X2 M Sport variant, the rear bumper will feature a diffuser-look cladding inlay in Dark Shadow metallic. Further down the broadness of the X2 is where the dual tailpipes in 90mm diameter similar to the X6 is located, giving the rear a very sporty feel as though it is ready to pounce at any time.

To be honest, though it may be positioned to take on the Evoque, many would argue it’s closer to the Mercedes-Benz GLA. But I beg to differ because the GLA really does look like a jacked-up A-Class whereas the X2 isn’t a jacked up 1 Series. It is a larger car than the GLA, but has a very unique big hot hatch profile to it. And of course, it’s a BMW, so it will have sharper driving dynamics and better in-car practicality.

Moving to the side profile, the one characteristic which stood out amongst all other current BMWs is the BMW roundel found on‍‍‍ the C-pillar. This feature was much admired on classic BMW coupes, which made them instantly identifiable from far and thus has been reintroduced in this new BMW X2. To further enhance the sporty looks of the Sports Activity Coupe, the all-famous BMW Hofmeister kink can be found on the C-pillars too. At first, the X2 does look like it is being overloaded by one too many characteristics that BMW has chosen to make the car stand out. The overzealousness seemed to have resulted in a rather ‘loud’ car, though having said that, it does also appear that BMW is making an impact with their new design language which will be carried forward to Munich’s upcoming vehicles.

Contributing to the fierce outlook of the X2 is not only the double spoke alloy wheels which will be coming in 19” but also the side skirting with an appearance of bigger surface area of body colour making the car appear closer to tarmac when on the road. With the car having the broad illusion of being planted to the ground, the coupe-like roofline comes into play by giving an impression of it sprinting forward. Putting all these features together with the body lines, the X2 appears as though the car is moving swiftly by when the wheels are rolling.

The most prominent trait which can be seen from the front is of course, the conventional BMW kidney grille which on the X2, has undergone some nip and tuck resulting in the lower half being slightly wider than the top with what looks like flared nostrils. The bi-LED light for both low and high beams is perfect for illuminating the way especially during the night while also safely making itself apparent during the day with those hexagonal daytime driving lights. It is undoubtedly obvious that BMW is changing their exterior design language into a more aggressive look and the younger crowd might just take a liking towards this new design language. When I first saw it through photos, I did not like it one bit but when it was presented in front of me, it looks way better than in pictures, certainly better than Audi’s Q2.

The next morning, it was time to take it for a spin around the streets of beautiful Lisbon to see how it fares. Grabbing the keys and hopping up the car, I realised my steering wheel was on the other side. LOL. Yes, it’s left hand drive and my brain hurts a little trying to come to terms to this. Reorienting myself to the other side, I step inside, put my seatbelt on and realised that the top of the seatbelt could not be adjusted. Being about 160cm, it was quite uncomfortable for me but once you get used to it, gone are those worries. Nonetheless, headroom really is quite good even if I were taller.

The first eye candy in the cabin is of course the contrast stitching surrounding the dashboard, centre console and all around the Alcantara seats (seats do come with option of Magma Red perforated Dakota leather as well), and they feel very premium. Thread colour follows the exterior colour of the car making the linkage of exterior with interior, a very nice touch. Familiarity sinks in as I entered the X2, the meter cluster, the steering wheel, the centre console, the iDrive, the gear knob, the buttons – the BMW family gene pool is strong I guess. Now, having the exterior quite heavily altered, I would have expected the same on the inside but then again, who never liked the feeling of familiarity?

Getting behind the wheel and beginning the drive, I find my hands feeling strenuous from gripping the huge steering wheel. Now, there is a possibility that it might be because my hands are just small but it could also mean that the steering wheel is huge. I’ll just attach a photo and let you conclude on your own. Having said that, the handling was true blue BMW. The sensation was immediate, sharp steering response, excellent body control, and those wonderful BMW brakes, transmission shifts, everything that made BMW the ultimate driving machine is present.

‍‍‍Being able to adjust the seating position to my liking is a definite plus point. It makes the visibility great and gives the driver the feeling of good control over the car. Speaking about control over the car, the X2 comes with many driving assistance systems (will put in a chart below) but the one I would like to highlight is the Lane Departure Warning. While I was trying this out, I come to notice that the car would alert me by means of vibration. That’s all. VIBRATION. There was no pull on the steering but just a simple vibration. See here, we all grew up with wonderful Malaysian roads where sometimes it feels like a computer game where we try our best to avoid pot holes and sudden merging of lanes, thus to just have a vibration as a warning might not be a good enough alert system for we might just assume it was sent into the cabin from the bad roads we have instead.

After a while of driving and realising that the weather was great for #dropthetop and not being able to, I was happy that the X2 came with a panoramic roof; all at just the touch of a button, or should I say buttons. With so many car makers moving onto the “touchscreen” platform, I am happy that BMW has the option to touch screen but also the option to button. In this day and age, we are so used to touchscreens that our default reflexes are to touch the screen to get to what we want. However, while driving, having buttons – a physical object that we are able to touch and feel, is perfect so that we can continue to keep our eyes on the road while engaging the infotainment system with ease.

‍‍‍As we were driving on the roads of Lisbon, we were bound to come across gravel roads and that is where the true test of suspension came in. To my surprise, the suspension was quite stiff which also meant that the X2 had very little body roll and felt very stable. Then again, we were test driving the diesel AWD variant with 400Nm of torque, whereas Malaysia will be getting the front-wheel driven petrol model.

Hitting the highways and having a go at the transmission, I switched to Sport+ mode to try out the pedal shifters. They are fairly responsive at the click of the shift, although the Aisin 8-speed gearbox’s software dulls kickdown response a couple of seconds slower. It is a trait one can easily mistaken for turbo lag, though its greater purpose is actually to protect the transmission’s hardware. Switching drive to Sport+ mode sharpens the response substantially.


1,995cc, Inline-4, Diesel

1,998cc, Inline-4, Petrol


190hp @ 4,000rpm

192hp @ 5,000 – 6,000rpm


400Nm @ 1,750 – 2,500rpm

280Nm @ 1,350 – 4,600rpm


8-speed AT, AWD

7-speed DCT, FWD

Top Speed

221 km/h

227 km/h

0 – 100km/h

7.7 seconds

7.7 seconds

Fuel Consumption, Combined

4.6 – 4.8 l/100km

5.5 – 5.9 l/100km


121 – 126 g/km

126 – 134 g/km




What we drove‍‍‍

What we will be getting

Overall, the X2 is a very sporty, stylish proposition, it certainly handles better than the GLA, or the Evoque, it’s more practical too. And with Malaysia receiving the FWD configuration, that should also mean a lighter drive train, more fuel efficient, and more nimble to drive.

It might not sell in huge numbers in Malaysia based on BMW Malaysia’s decision to remain it as a CBU import, but I certainly think there’s a big potential, especially for those who doesn’t want too big a car, but needs the practicality and stylish proposition of an everyday car. Not to be sexist but this car is perfect for the sensible, courageous, entrepreneurial lady in 30s. I mean, how many beautiful, confident women wants to be seen driving her daddy's 5-series right?  

The experience in Portugal was certainly memorable thanks to many a factor – the great handling car, the beautiful place, wonderful people, the excellent service from Emirates, and the wonderful vibes of this entire trip.‍‍‍

I can’t help but concluding that while the world is a challenge to many, there are those where their everyday job revolves around creating things or services for the betterment of others. Sometimes by pushing the boundaries of technology and record shattering performance cars, and sometimes with propositions like that of the X2, beautiful, sporty, stylish. Not super fast, not super high tech, but just bag loads of wholesome feel-goodness about it. It’s a car that makes you feel confident and stylish - hell I feel prettier just driving in it.

And that scenery to my right, driving along at the edge of Europe, looking into the North Atlantic Ocean, reminding myself the journey I took here, this is all just too surreal to be doing what I never knew I’d love doing. I’m happy. And pretty.

Yes, I’m pretty.