Like its X1 stablemate, the X2 can be had with BMW's plug-in technology. Jonathan Crouch takes a look at the xDrive25e variant.
Ten Second Review
BMW's stylised small crossover, the X2, shares its plug-in hybrid technology - like much else - with its more practical X1 showroom stablemate. The PHEV tech here is based around a 1.5-litre petrol engine and an all-wheel drive powertrain and as usual with a plug-in hybrid, the stats are quite compelling: a BiK taxation rating of just 10%, around 35 miles of all-electric driving range, up to 43g/km of CO2 and up to 148mpg on the combined cycle. But there's a price to pay for this kind of technology - and a few practicality compromises to make.
BMW's X2 has proved pretty successful since its launch back in 2018, but now faces strong competition from models like the second generation Mercedes GLA. Since that Stuttgart model's adoption of Plug-in hybrid tech, the X2 had to follow suit - and did so with the adoption of the PHEV powertrain that BMW first fitted to its small MPV, the 225xe Active Tourer and subsequently installed in this X2 model's X1 SUV showroom stablemate.
So-powered, this X2 xDive25e hit the market at about the same time as another key plug-in rival - the Volvo XC40 Recharge T5 Plug-in hybrid, and more PHEV segment competitors will doubtless follow. So how competitive can this petrol/electric X2 model be? Let's find out.
BMWs used to provide the engineering for MINI models but in this case, it's the other way around. The X2 xDrive25e petrol/electric Plug-in hybrid uses the powertrain we first saw in the MINI Countryman PHEV. It mates a 124hp version of the '18i' model's 1.5-litre three cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels with an 95hp electric motor, which powers those at the rear and draws its energy from a rechargeable 9.7 kWh lithium-ion battery. This set-up works via a 6-speed torque converter Steptronic auto gearbox and makes possible front, rear or four-wheel drive capability, depending on the chosen driving mode.
Ah yes, modes; let's get to them. Three extra settings feature in the xDrive25e's 'Driving Performance Control' system - 'MAX eDRIVE' (which keeps progress all-electric), the 'AUTO eDRIVE' setting (which switches between power sources as necessary) and 'SAVE BATTERY' (which reserves your all-electric battery range until you particularly need it - say in urban motoring at the end of a motorway trip). If you can ignore this focus on frugality and use all of this Plug-in hybrid model's performance, you'll find that there's plenty of it thanks to a combined system output of 220hp and 385Nm of torque. 62mph from rest takes just 6.8s and top speed is 121mph. Keep the PHEV battery topped up and a WLTP-rated all-electric driving range of up to 35.4 is possible - though not if you push the limits of the 84mph all-electric top speed.
Design and Build
There's no exterior embellishment to identify the X2 xDrive25e as a PHEV model, though the eagle-eyed might notice the bespoke badging and the addition of an extra charging flap. This updated version of this model features high gloss black design elements at the front. Even next to its bigger coupe-SUV BMW range stablemates, the X4 and X6, the X2 makes a distinctive impression. It's 2cm shorter and more than 7cm lower than the MINI-derived X1 crossover model it's based upon, yet has the same wheelbase. Featuring short overhangs, it also has a stretched, coupe-style roofline and slim window graphic. The kidney grille has always been an identifying feature of the Munich marque but on this car, it's wider at its base than at the top, which gives the nose a broader, more distinctive and sportier appearance. At the rear, horizontal design lines emphasise the car's width, with these creases continuing into high-set LED rear lights that feature an 'L' shape familiar from BMW coupes.
Lower down, the car hints at the power of its BMW TwinPower Turbo engines through the design of the tailpipes, all X2 models coming with a twin exhaust arrangement that's 90mm diameter. A spoiler provides a flourish to round off the roofline and contributes to a drag co-efficient of just 0.28Cd. Inside, there's a driver-focused cabin and a soft-finish instrument panel with contrast decorative stitching. There are eDrive-specific displays in the instrument cluster and an eDrive button activates the PHEV 'AUTO eDrive', 'MAX eDrive' and 'SAVE BATTERY' modes. A couple of adults can sit comfortably on the back seat, but boot space has been compromised by the plug-in installation, falling by 60-litres over the standard car to 410-litres. Fold the 40:20:40-split rear bench and that capacity rises to 1,295-litres.
Market and Model
X2 xDrive25e pricing starts from around £38,000. That's about £1,200 more than you'd pay for an equivalently-specified X2 xDrive20d diesel. And, for reference, £2,500 more than you'd pay for the same plug-in powertrain in BMW's 2 Series Active Tourer MPV. This is reasonable value when you consider that a rival Volvo XC40 Recharge T5 Plug-in hybrid costs upwards from around £41,000. The X2 xDrive25e is offered with 'Sport' and 'M Sport' trim levels, the latter taking the asking price to around £41,000. If you want a slightly more practical body style, the same powertrain is also offered with the brand's X1 crossover model at a saving of around £1,000.
Even base 'Sport' trim gives you quite a lot, with 18-inch Double-spoke alloy wheels, 'High-Gloss Shadowline' exterior trim, front inlets with a High-gloss black finisher and front bumper under-body protection. Inside, 'Sport' trim gets you sports seats, contrast stitching on the dash, LED ambient lighting and upholstery that's a smart combination of 'Anthracite' cloth and 'Sensatec' man-made leather. Top 'M Sport' trim stands out from the others thanks to 19-inch 'M light alloy Double-spoke' wheels, M Sport suspension and an M rear spoiler. There's also a standard 'M aerodynamic bodystyle' kit which includes enlarged front air intakes and a body-coloured finish for things like the underbody protection plate and the wheel arch trims.
Cost of Ownership
To recap the info we gave you in our 'Driving Experience' section, this variant mates the sDrive18i model's 1.5-litre three cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels with a 95hp electric motor, which powers those at the rear and draws its energy from a rechargeable 9.7 kWh lithium-ion battery placed beneath the rear seat. You'll need 2.4 hours to recharge the car from 16A power socket (or twice that from a conventional domestic plug) but ideally, you'd have a BMW i Wallbox installed in your garage, which can knock an hour off that figure and which can be programmed into off-peak electricity rates.
When fully charged, the xDrive25xe has a WLTP-rated all-electric range of up to 35.4 miles before the little petrol engine cuts in, meaning that short urban trips can be completed with zero local emissions. That's if you select the 'MAX eDRIVE' option from this variant's bespoke 'Drive Performance Control' system that'll keep the car in milk float mode. More typically, you'll be using the set-up's 'AUTO eDRIVE' setting, which switches between power sources as necessary. And there's also a 'SAVE BATTERY' option, which reserves your all-electric battery range until you particularly need it - say in urban motoring at the end of a motorway trip. As for the xDrive25e variant's quoted efficiency figures, well as with any plug-in hybrid, you need to take these with something of a pinch of salt, but for the record, they're quoted at around 148mpg for the WLTP-rated combined cycle and up to 43g/km of WLTP-rated CO2. The BiK taxation rating is 10%: for comparison, an X2 xDrive20d diesel is rated at 33%. We'll finish with insurance.
The X2 xDrive25e can't quite match the efficiency figures of its Mercedes GLA 250e arch-rival, but it gets close enough to satisfy potential buyers sold on this Munich model's more stylised shape and slightly sharper handling. As with any plug-in model, fuel savings alone won't justify the premium pricing; but adding in the BiK tax reductions might be enough to make you take a second look at an X2 xDrive25e, even with its near-£40,000 price tag. Did we ever think we'd be paying this much for a mainstream X2 model? Possibly not, but then did we ever think a decade ago that we'd have the chance to buy a petrol-powered one that could also offer an all-electric driving range of up to 35 miles?
Right here, right now, plug-in tech makes more sense for more people, more of the time than full-EV ownership. In the future, that'll probably change. Just now though, cars like this are on-trend and increasingly, make more sense than a comparable diesel, provided they're used in the right way.