2019 BMW X2 M35i Review: The Not Hatch Gets Hot With M Performance

2019 BMW X2 M35i

2019 BMW X2 M35i is the performance variant of the luxury subcompact crossover.

Robert Duffer

When the BMW X2 launched for 2018 it was too cramped to be a crossover yet too tall to be a hatchback. The X2 subcompact crossover, which is part of BMW's growing “Sports Activity Coupe” family, did not defy classification; it was a compromise between practicality over performance. It was the perfect candidate for the M performance treatment. 

The 2019 BMW X2 M35i digs into the sport proposition with all 20-inch wheels. It’s a hoot, not in the purely impressive driving performance of the peerless M2 coupe or M sedans, but in the new automotive era of minimizing the compromise of having it all.

For a price, of course. Starting at $46,450, the all-wheel-drive performance variant is $8,050 more than the AWD X2.

The M35i lets you be mature and sophisticated around town, only to blip brap haul butt out of town thanks to the most powerful production four-cylinder engine out of Bavaria. It’s also the first four banger to get the M treatment.

The larger twin-scroll turbocharger bolted on to the inline four-cylinder makes 302 horsepower and, with the 8-speed automatic transmission, delivers 332 pound-feet of torque to all wheels.  The larger turbocharger with increased airflow, among several other changes to the engine, provides 74-hp and 74 pound-feet over the X2, resulting in a 0-60mph time of 4.9 seconds. That is a whopping 1.4 seconds quicker than the compromise. 

All that torque is available at just 1,750 rpm, and the M35i comes with launch control, so there is plenty of grunt to blast off the line. It rides 0.4 inches lower than the X2, but you could opt for the X2’s SportX package.

It doesn’t look much different from the outside, even with the special M spoiler and M exhaust system, the abundance of M badging, some gray accents on the mirrors and grille and 19-inch wheels standard (the tester had 20-inchers). But the handling is better. Much better. That standard AWD comes with a front axle limited-slip differential that puts more rubber on the ground even if the wheels are rotating at different speeds.

Performance is only as good as the braking, so that too gets the M Sport upgrade with floating rear calipers in dark blue that happen to look pretty cool, too. 

On the inside, M Sport leather steering wheel with paddle shifters comes standard, and the optional M Sport seats with integrated headrests were both snug and comfy, good for performance and cruising. The coolest part of all that leather was the Magma Red Dakota cow that provided the skin. Red interior might sound as hip as a crustache on a teenager, but combined with the digital cluster, dynamic ambient lighting and black and chrome trim pieces, it was hot. 

Cargo area is cramped as is rear headroom, but that’s the tradeoff for these not-hatches.

The challenge for BMW is how many small luxury not hatches are on the market, including the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio and the Mercedes-AMG GLA45, which are both better. The 505-hp Stelvio Quad is nearly $30,000 more, whereas the 375-hp 2-liter turbo 4 in the Mercedes-AMG GLA45 starts at only $6,900 more. The most direct comparison might be the X2 itself. The M35i is worth the upcharge.

2019 BMW X2 M35i

Base price: $46,450

As tested: $55,030 (including $995 delivery)

Powertrain: 302-hp 2-liter turbo 4-cylinder with 8-speed automatic in AWD

Pros: Quickness, handling, performance, braking, better priced than competitors

Cons: Limited visibility, limited cargo room

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When the BMW X2 launched for 2018 it was too cramped to be a crossover yet too tall to be a hatchback. The X2 subcompact crossover, which is part of BMW's growing “Sports Activity Coupe” family, did not defy classification; it was a compromise between practicality over performance. It was the perfect candidate for the M performance treatment. 

The 2019 BMW X2 M35i digs into the sport proposition with all 20-inch wheels. It’s a hoot, not in the purely impressive driving performance of the peerless M2 coupe or M sedans, but in the new automotive era of minimizing the compromise of having it all.

For a price, of course. Starting at $46,450, the all-wheel-drive performance variant is $8,050 more than the AWD X2.

The M35i lets you be mature and sophisticated around town, only to blip brap haul butt out of town thanks to the most powerful production four-cylinder engine out of Bavaria. It’s also the first four banger to get the M treatment.

The larger twin-scroll turbocharger bolted on to the inline four-cylinder makes 302 horsepower and, with the 8-speed automatic transmission, delivers 332 pound-feet of torque to all wheels.  The larger turbocharger with increased airflow, among several other changes to the engine, provides 74-hp and 74 pound-feet over the X2, resulting in a 0-60mph time of 4.9 seconds. That is a whopping 1.4 seconds quicker than the compromise. 

All that torque is available at just 1,750 rpm, and the M35i comes with launch control, so there is plenty of grunt to blast off the line. It rides 0.4 inches lower than the X2, but you could opt for the X2’s SportX package.

It doesn’t look much different from the outside, even with the special M spoiler and M exhaust system, the abundance of M badging, some gray accents on the mirrors and grille and 19-inch wheels standard (the tester had 20-inchers). But the handling is better. Much better. That standard AWD comes with a front axle limited-slip differential that puts more rubber on the ground even if the wheels are rotating at different speeds.

Performance is only as good as the braking, so that too gets the M Sport upgrade with floating rear calipers in dark blue that happen to look pretty cool, too. 

On the inside, M Sport leather steering wheel with paddle shifters comes standard, and the optional M Sport seats with integrated headrests were both snug and comfy, good for performance and cruising. The coolest part of all that leather was the Magma Red Dakota cow that provided the skin. Red interior might sound as hip as a crustache on a teenager, but combined with the digital cluster, dynamic ambient lighting and black and chrome trim pieces, it was hot. 

Cargo area is cramped as is rear headroom, but that’s the tradeoff for these not-hatches.

The challenge for BMW is how many small luxury not hatches are on the market, including the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio and the Mercedes-AMG GLA45, which are both better. The 505-hp Stelvio Quad is nearly $30,000 more, whereas the 375-hp 2-liter turbo 4 in the Mercedes-AMG GLA45 starts at only $6,900 more. The most direct comparison might be the X2 itself. The M35i is worth the upcharge.

2019 BMW X2 M35i

Base price: $46,450

As tested: $55,030 (including $995 delivery)

Powertrain: 302-hp 2-liter turbo 4-cylinder with 8-speed automatic in AWD

Pros: Quickness, handling, performance, braking, better priced than competitors

Cons: Limited visibility, limited cargo room

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As a veteran automotive reporter and reviewer, I get behind the wheel and write about vehicles without any sales spin. As senior journalist with a syndicated auto revie

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