It hardly seems necessary for BMW to have given the X2 xDrive28i such a long official name. There really aren’t enough variations on the X2 to justify the specificity. There is only one engine. There is only one transmission.

<em>The mini front seats of this mini-SUV that shares a platform with the Mini Cooper Countryman.</em>

In fact, the X2 in general is sort of just a sportified variation of the X1. That allows the X2 to be unusually tightly focused. “Don’t care for the low roofline and stiff ride of the X2? Well, let me show you this lovely X1 on the other side of the showroom,” says your local BMW salesperson.

That roofline is about five inches lower than the Jag’s and the Volvo’s. It’s a dimensional difference you notice even when the X2 is not parked next to its competitors. Its relatively low roof necessitates a lower seating position compared with the others here. Not low, mind you, but lower. This bothers us not one bit. In fact, we prefer it. But for those who want to feel as if they are riding above traffic, well, they’re going to have to get something a lot taller than this (or either of the other vehicles in this test), because everything on the road now is tall. By our measure, the X2’s center of gravity is two inches lower than that of the E-Pace and the XC40. That pays pretty big handling dividends. Helped by the test’s most aggressive, if smallest, rubber and the lightest curb weight, the BMW owned the chassis tests. It stopped from 70 mph in 169 feet, 15 less than the worst-in-test Jaguar. It was fastest through the slalom by a significant margin.

Its relatively low mass also helped the vehicle with the least powerful engine not only return the best fuel economy (25 mpg, 2 more than the Volvo and 6 more than the Jaguar) but also match the Volvo for the acceleration laurels.

<em>An SUV caught transmogrifying into a station wagon.</em>

The BMW is, in a way, the polar opposite of the Volvo. On the expressway, its stiff suspension means it clomps over road imperfections. And due to its tight body dimensions and small glass area, it feels a bit cramped. But hop off the expressway and the X2 comes alive.

BMW still knows what it’s doing with vehicle dynamics, even if it doesn’t always follow its own advice. The X2’s brake pedal is firm and easily modulated. Its steering is quick, and the front end responds immediately and confidently to commands. Its body roll is tightly controlled. And the X2’s turbo 2.0-liter engine feels most satisfyingly like a larger, naturally aspirated powerplant. That is, or should be, the goal of any turbocharged engine. For the X2, dynamic superiority is serious business. It seeks to subjugate each corner, not dance through it. It’s impressive.

But it is also the least SUV-like of these quasi-SUVs. It’s uncomfortable with two passengers in the back seat and absolute torture with three. Even its front seats feel a size smaller than those of the other cars. Perhaps predictably, its cargo hold accommodates the fewest carry-on-luggage-sized boxes, but truth be told, they’re all pretty small by SUV standards. A BMW 3-series Sports Wagon has significantly more cargo space than any of these trucklets. Ultimately, though, that’s not what these vehicles are about.

They are style statements that happen to be more practical than the small sedans and hatchbacks they’re supplanting. More important, they’re significantly better than their predecessors. Now, relax.

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