The new X2 M35i is destined to compete against a glut of prospective future hot compact SUVs such as the Audi SQ2 and Mercedes-AMG GLA35, but BMW has beaten them to it, in the process revealing its first high-performance four-cylinder engine of the recent past. The new four-cylinder is the first built under BMW’s M Performance division, and produces a maximum power of 302bhp, with 332lb ft of torque.
Power is sent exclusively through an eight-speed automatic gearbox (a torque converter rather than a dual-clutch) and all four wheels. In another first, BMW has supplemented the all-wheel-drive system with a locking differential on the front axle.
The X2’s visual upgrades are predictably subtle. Aside from a grey finish on the mirrors, grille and lower detailing, only the dual rear exhausts and larger 19-inch wheels really set the M35i apart from lesser M Sport siblings; 20-inchers are also optional. The inside is also largely unchanged compared to other X2 M Sport models, aside from a new set of optional sport seats and M Performance steering wheel.
But the X2’s importance here is that it’ll also prove to be a looking glass into the future of BMW’s M division, and where the company will take its forthcoming front-wheel-drive 1-series. Thanks to its new platform, the next 1-series will mimic the X2 in having a transversely mounted engine, ruling out a future six-cylinder 1-series. As a result, the next-generation BMW hot hatch will lose its rear-drive USP in the hot hatch class, and now aim directly at rivals like the S3 and incoming A35 AMG with the ubiquitous turbocharged four-cylinder, all-wheel-drive layout.
This article originally appeared at evo.co.uk
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