Stylish small fry. Like its German brethren, BMW loves their numerical naming conventions. Though the precise formula has been fiddled with over the years, the brand has settled on something of a pattern: even numbers for the fun and stylish stuff, odd numbers for the more workaday people haulers. The 2021 BMW X2, therefore, is the smallest style-conscious crossover in the lineup. It starts on the bones of the diminutive X1 but trades that model's frumpy roofline for something racier but less practical.

We think hardly anyone will mourn the head room and cargo space lost in the process of turning an X1 into an X2. The X2 simply looks the business: a squat, low-slung stance suggests power and performance – regardless of what actually might be under the hood – and a bevy of fun colors and big wheels populate the options sheet. The X2 offers a level of expression that's absent on the X1.

Turbo-four performance. The X2's sporting looks aren't entirely trickery. Under the hood of most models can be found a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It pumps out 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Other BMWs with turbo-fours make more horsepower, but in the wee little X2, 228 is plenty for reasonable acceleration and passing power. Our stopwatches ticked off a 0-60 mph time of about 6.5 seconds, which is entirely respectable for this segment.

Those with deeper pockets and a penchant for speed will want to upgrade to the M35i. As always, the M prefix is no mere badging adornment; in this case, the mighty letter represents 301 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque being thumped out of a 2.0-liter turbo-four.

An additional 80 or so hp is nothing to sneeze at. With that sort of power thrown into the mix, the X2 can suddenly hit 60 mph in less than five seconds. It also sounds fiercer and feels more responsive across the rev range. Prod the accelerator at any point and be prepared to be slung forward.

It's no surprise the M35i offers crisper turn-in, more neutral cornering, and a firmer ride, but sticking with the base 28i is by no means punishment. It still corners fairly flat and offers no shortage of entertainment on a local backroad. Nonetheless, anyone looking for more than casual performance will want to upgrade to the M35i, or at the very least the M suspension that's optional on the base car.


Spartan interior. Compared to its arch rivals Mercedes-Benz and Audi, BMW has always had the most stark, driver-focused cockpit. That's doubly true with BMW's low-end models such as the X2, where the price point is especially sensitive.

We mention this because hopping into the X2 for the first time can be underwhelming. Compared to the outgoing and bold exterior, the interior design hardly stirs emotions – even Kia has more emotive interiors these days. Compared with the bejeweled Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class and techy-minimalist Audi Q3, the X2 lands in an unenviable middle ground.

There are ways to improve the experience. The available red interior is searing on the eyes but inevitably adds some major pop. If you stick with the monochromatic black color scheme, we suggest getting the moonroof to let some light in and brighten up the space.

Though the interior design is a letdown, build quality is commensurate with the luxury badge. Panel gaps are tight and uniform and both the leather and leatherette upholstery options feel durable. Soft-touch materials cover most surfaces. The few hard plastics are well hidden.

Seats are comfortable as well. Even the no-option base models sport multi-way power adjustment, and the front seats have good bolsters that aren't too aggressive nor too shallow. Our main complaint is that the back seat just isn't wide enough for three people.

Technology quibbles. The most conspicuous aspect of the X2 regards technology; specifically, how BMW is so stingy with it. Yes, an 8.8-inch touchscreen with navigation and Apple CarPlay compatibility is standard, which is nice, but Android Auto remains unavailable for any price.

Oh, and you want more active safety tech than automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning? Then be ready to spend $3,500 for the Premium Package. It includes adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, and other features that more and more brands are including as standard features. We find it rather pretentious of BMW to ask that sort of money for equipment that has become so widespread in recent years.

You can order up a head-up display, but getting a larger touchscreen or even an all-digital instrument cluster is out of the question. These are the sort of features the competition continues to push more fervently and that consumers increasingly ask for. That BMW isn't following suit on a car marketed towards younger, tech-savvy buyers is a head-scratcher.

Final thoughts. The 2021 BMW X2 is the brand staying true to its roots. Unlike other crossovers, it puts performance first, remaining one of the more athletic choices in the segment. It reiterates that sentiment with its sparse, focused interior and a lack of emphasis on glitz and tech.

That's all well and good, but today's buyers want it all: performance, tech, luxury, and practicality. The X2 is comfortable, lithe, and fairly luxurious, but holistically it misses the mark, with its sense of presence falling short of competitors like the Q3, GLA, Volvo XC40, and Lincoln Corsair. The X2 may be sporty, but others offer a more well-rounded definition of luxury.

Check prices for the 2021 BMW X2 »