BMW X2 Is Gas Only in US, While Europe and China Get an EV, Too

Jackson Wheeler
10 Min Read

  • BMW has two new X2s, both sharing the same 2.0-liter turbo four. The xDrive 28i makes 241 hp and the M35i xDrive 312. Both have all-wheel drive.
  • The car rides on BMW’s FAAR platform, made to accommodate all powertrains.
  • Europe and China get an electric version, but we do not. Nor do we get the diesel.

Driving BMW’s new X2 M35i xDrive, swabbed in a green so bright it looks like an alien space craft just landed in sunny Portugal, it occurs that things are changing in this world. BMW sales are up, all around the globe.

“We grew 6.3% last year,” said Jochen Galler, member of the board for sales. “BMW grew in all regions: Europe, North America, China. We grew with all technologies and powertrains. It is an all-time high in EVs.”

It is the Chinese appetite for EVs that may be driving everything. While EV sales in the US have slowed somewhat, electric vehicle sales in China—where you don’t have a choice in these things—are growing. And China’s market is huge.

a green car on a roadClick for gallery


It’s not a crossover or even an SUV—it’s a Sports Activity Coupe, BMW insists.

Hence, there is an electric version of the new BMW X2, because China (and Europe) want EVs. But here in the US, where we are slower to embrace the zero-tailpipe lifestyle, we will get zero electric X2s. (“You’ll get nothing and like it!”)

We will get instead two versions of the same 2.0-liter turbo, and it will drive all four wheels. (The rest of the world also gets a diesel, but we hardly ever get the diesels these days.)

They’re not bad 2.0-liter fours. The base engine is an “extensively revised” turbo in the base-model X2 xDrive28i. It gets a new dual-port injection system, meaning fuel is spritzed into the engine at both the intake port and right in the combustion chamber, the latter which has new geometry.

The result is 241 hp from 4500 to 6500 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque from 1500 to 4000 rpm. With a dual-clutch Steptronic seven-speed, that’ll get the base model to 60 mph in a near-leisurely 6.2 seconds.

The M version of the X2, the M35i xDrive, is slightly quicker: Its 0-60 mph time is 5.2 seconds. This is thanks to VANOS variable cam timing and VALVETRONIC variable valve timing.

This engine makes 312 hp from 5750 to 6500 rpm and the same 295 lb-ft of torque as the base engine. The M engine is beefed up to handle that extra output with a stronger crank, better oil cooling for the pistons, and main bearing shells and caps from the six-cylinder BMW engines.

Indeed, the M35i xDrive felt as much like an M as anything this small and tall probably could.

To make sure you appreciate all that power and torque, BMW pipes in artificial engine sounds to the cabin. Fake engine sounds are here to stay. Vroom, vroom!

Of the two we get, I only got to drive the M35i xDrive, and if you can only have one that might be the one to pick. While some whined that it wasn’t as great as they’d hoped, I felt the rig was taut and the driving feel reactive to my inputs.

Both models ride on BMW’s fairly new—2018—FAAR platform, which is the direct result of BMW’s uncertainty about exactly how many buyers would be going for this electric car thing. They didn’t know if by now the figure would be 40% EV sales or 10%.

a blue car parked in a buildingClick for gallery


Like or loathe the shape, BMW has always been controversial in design.

So they made a platform that could accommodate any drivetrain: EV, gas, diesel, and hybrids. The FAAR (say it with me: Frontantriebsarchitektur, or front-wheel-drive architecture) can handle it all, based on the vagaries of the world market. FAAR is distinct from CLAR, or rear-wheel-drive architecture that powers BMWs like the M5.

So, careening along through coastal Portugal in the rain, I appreciated the AWD. It pulled the rig out of sloppy corners and swatted it on its way down the straights with surety. The chassis felt tight, the ride a bit firm, and the electric power steering almost as precise as I’d have liked it.

For something this tall it went around corners well, without rolling over onto its door handles. Indeed, it felt as much like an M as anything this small and tall probably could.

BMW says every component of the single-joint spring strut axle at the front has been developed almost completely from scratch.

“The new axle kinematics and increased rigidity help to give the X2 agile turn-in response and steering feel that is largely unaffected by torque steer,” BMW says. “Following readjustment of the steering axle, the caster offset has been increased by some 15% over the previous model, which has a positive effect on both steering feedback and straight-line stability.”

That’s what I felt, for sure!

The three-link rear setup is also pretty rigid, BMW says. There are no active anti-roll bars, either, which gives what roll there is a more natural feel, something to make those who remember BMWs of yore wax nostalgic. The shocks are active, though, so there is a hint of artificiality, but not much.

You have to say farewell to buttons, except for the handy, redundant controls on the steering wheel.

For even more M in the base model, you can buy the M Sport package and get 19- or 20-inch light-alloy wheels and sportier tires. My test car had the standard 20-inch light alloys because it was an M35i.

Inside, forget any retro anything—it’s all modern. Based around the 10.25-inch instrument cluster ahead of the steering wheel and the 10.7-inch curved display center touchscreen, you have to say farewell to buttons, except for an efficient set of them as redundant controls on the steering wheel.

Some have complained that BMW’s OS 9 software is too slow to react to driver commands. But several competitors are, too, taking an extra second or two to respond with navigation info, for instance. I was not devastated by this—I just looped one more time through the traffic circle, eating up more tire.

In the back there are 17.7 cubic feet for cargo behind the second-row seats, or 53 cubic feet with the second row folded flat. For a practical compact crossover (BMW insists it’s a Sport Activity Coupe), it’s almost a defensible purchase at $42,995 for the base model and $52,395 for the M35i.

You could make a good argument for the base model, though, as it shares the same peak torque with its more expensive green sibling, and torque is what you really feel in most driving.

Or get the mechanically identical Mini Countryman for thousands less!

Look for both X2 models in showrooms in March.

Should we have gotten the EV version in the US, or the diesel? Let us know in the comments.

Headshot of Mark Vaughn

Mark Vaughn grew up in a Ford family and spent many hours holding a trouble light over a straight-six miraculously fed by a single-barrel carburetor while his father cursed Ford, all its products and everyone who ever worked there. This was his introduction to objective automotive criticism. He started writing for City News Service in Los Angeles, then moved to Europe and became editor of a car magazine called, creatively, Auto. He decided Auto should cover Formula 1, sports prototypes and touring cars—no one stopped him! From there he interviewed with Autoweek at the 1989 Frankfurt motor show and has been with us ever since.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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