The BMW X1 and X2 are BMW’s smallest SUVs. BMW themselves don’t use the term SUV, preferring instead to classify its SUVs as being either Sports Activity Vehicles ® (SAVs) or Sports Activity Coupes ® (SACs).
The X1 is a more traditional subcompact SUV, whereas the X2 is a sportier, coupe-like subcompact SUV.
They therefore belong to the same size segment, and in many aspects they are more or less the same.
Both are smaller than the BMW X3 and BMW X4, and smaller still when compared to the BMW X5. Equivalently sized competitors include the Audi Q3 and Mercedes GLA.
Let’s take a more detailed look at the exact differences between the two models.
The BMW X2 is essentially a BMW X1 with a chopped-off roof. The sloping roofline of a coupe gives it a sportier look, but it’s backed by the same engine and transmission so don’t expect any difference in performance. The X1 costs less and offers a slightly more spacious cargo area.
The entry-level 2021 BMW X1, the sDrive28i, costs $35,400 . The entry-level 2021 BMW X2 sDrive28i is slightly more expensive, costing $36,600 .
Both the X1 and X2 are both available with BMW’s patented xDrive all-wheel drive (AWD). The X1 and X2 xDrive28i will cost you $2,000 more than the front-wheel drive sDrive28i, at $37,400 and $38,600 respectively.
However, BMW offers the X2 in a high-performance M35i trim. This costs significantly more at $46,450 MSRP and differs quite a bit from the standard X1 and X2 (more on this later).
While it’s difficult to differentiate the X1 and X2 from a quick glance, a closer inspection shows some subtle differences.
The X2 BMW SUV has a sportier, more athletic build with its sloping rear roofline and significantly slimmer windows . The 10-spoke wheels on the X2 also look different to the splitting spokes on the X1.
BMW’s signature dual-kidney front grilles are present on both the X1 and X2, but looks wider on the X2. The X2’s headlights also appear slimmer and wider, giving the X2 a more aggressive look overall.
The rear of the X2 looks considerably more handsome than the X1, thanks to the body’s shorter profile, pronounced rear diffuser and meaner looking taillights.
The styling differences on the exterior were pretty subtle, but they’re even more difficult to detect on the inside.
Barely anything separates the cabins of the X1 and X2. Changes are limited to the X2 getting a slimmer and more rounded steering wheel , as well as some special stitching elements on the cloth seats.
The X2 borrows the same multi-tiered horizontal dashboard as the X1, as well as the same analog instrument cluster and gear shift lever. 2021 models now come with SiriusXM satellite radio and feature 8.8-inch touchscreen displays as standard, but pre-2020 models come with a 6.5-inch screen unless upgraded.
Both BMW crossover interiors are sufficiently luxurious, but there are still cheap plastics employed here and there. The X3 and above definitely feel a notch higher in overall quality.
Exterior and Interior Dimensions
Given that they’re both subcompact SUVs built from the same base, the X1 and X2 are very similar in size.
The sportier X2 sits 2.8 inches closer to the ground and is 3.2 inches shorter in length. Other than that, the exterior dimensions are more or less the same.
The X1 has the edge when it comes to its cargo hold with a cargo capacity of 27.1 cu.ft. compared to the X2’s 21.6 cu.ft.
Passengers will also appreciate the X1’s extra passenger headroom. The taller X1 has 41.9 inches of headroom in both the front and back whereas the X2 has 38.9 inches of headroom in the front and 37.1 inches in the back.
Engine Performance and Fuel Economy
Both the X1 and X2 share the same 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline 4-cylinder engine. This produces 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. This is matched with a 8-speed STEPTRONIC Automatic transmission.
Despite the X2’s sportier profile, the performance of these two SUVs is exactly the same. Going from 0-60 mph takes 6.6s in the front-wheel drive sDrive28i models (6.3 seconds in the AWD xDrive 28i). The top speed is electronically limited to 131 mph .
Although the mechanical underpinning is the same, the lower center of gravity and tighter turning radius does at least give the X2 an advantage in cornering.
Fuel efficiency is a respectable 24/32 (city/highway) mpg, which is fairly average within the subcompact SUV class but far behind the class-leading Lexus UX 200 (29/37 mpg).
The BMW X2 M35i
BMW’s M series is a collection of high-performance versions of regular BMWs. The BMW X2 has an M series version, the M35i. The X1 has no such M series version.
The M35i features various performance enhancements as well as aesthetic changes. Its 301 hp engine takes it from 0-60 mph in just 4.7 seconds , although fuel economy is lower (23/30 mpg).
There is no doubt that the X2 is the better looking SUV. It looks much sexier from the side and all the finer detailing gives it a more sophisticated look.
However, from a practicality standpoint it just doesn’t make much sense. It offers less cargo space, less room for passengers and yet ends up costing more than the X1.
While we think the X1 is a more sensible purchase, if you’re looking for a blazing fast subcompact SUV, the BMW X2 M35i is your answer. No equivalent X1 exists.
Related: BMW X1 vs X3 comparison