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The BMW X2 is an SUV with all the fun of a hot-hatch

BMW loves to overwhelm with numbers. First we had the X5 SUV, followed by the X3. Then came the X6, X4 and X1. Later this year well see a Range Rover-sized X7 (lord knows how big an X8 or X9 would be), but ahead of that, a more obvious gap has been plugged in the form of the X2 compact SUV.

This is all a bit confusing, so BMW is trying to bring some logic to bear. Odd numbers signify a core, higher-volume model; think the 3 Series or X5. Even ones are the sportier takes on these models; 4 Series Coupe, X6 SUV coupe are good examples. So that makes the X2, at least in theory, a sportier, lower-slung X1. Following?

It looks the part. From some angles, its really pumped up and muscular, just like the pretty concept car BMW wowed crowds with at a motor show a couple of years back. From other angles, its clumsy and heavy. As if the concept shape couldnt quite wrap around the practical X1 underpinnings.

At least it looks distinctive, which is more than can be said for the interior. Take a seat and you could be inside a BMW 2 Series people carrier: it doesnt excite in the way an Audi or a Merc does. Still, the infotainment is a class act, the M Sport seats are excellent and the overall feel is premium.

Its also reasonably practical. The X1 was based on the 2 Series Active Tourer, with all that cars lifestyle-friendly flourishes; the X2 continues in the same vein, although its racier roofline does chop headroom for adults. With a decent boot, its an ideal sporty SUV for young families.

Its meant to be sportier than the X1, so BMW has firmed up the suspension. This manifests in a lumpy ride at low speed, although BMWs have proper integrity that ensure they dont get unpleasantly crashy. The pay-off is a lack of lean in corners, making it feel like a hot hatch thats genuinely fun to drive on twisty roads.

Did I mention the one I was driving was a diesel? Wait, come back! The 2.0-litre motor in top-spec 20d 184hp guise does 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds, and theres loads of surging thrust whenever you go hard on the gas (and not too much diesel racket). When paired with the eight-speed auto, its a real hoot and also tax-friendly as it somehow claims to do 58.9mpg.

With one eye on the anti-diesel brigade – now a rather large contingent, it must be said – BMW also offers the X2 with a 2.0-litre turbo petrol. This is less fuel-efficient, but by class standards, still remarkable. Its a 192hp petrol engine thats more economical than its Jaguar E-Pace diesel rival, and matches the closest Mercedes-Benz GLA for average mpg. How do you do it, BMW?

The smart moneys still on diesel though, because the petrol is front-wheel drive (yes! A front-wheel drive BMW! Its the future, dear reader) while the diesel powers all four. I didnt try driving it off-road, of course (dont be silly – no X2 will ever off-road in real life), but the extra traction on-road means even more ability to use the engines power. This feature also makes it snow-friendly, which might come in useful should winter ever make an unwelcome return.

In short: BMWs done it again. Its added yet another number to its bewildering model range, and made a car good enough to earn its place. The X1 is so good, I feared the X2 might feel superfluous. Anyone seeking a family-friendly replacement for their hot hatch should check it out.

Richard Aucock works for automotive publisher

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