The little X1 was BMW’s first front-drive SUV, sharing the structural foundations that support the Mini. It’s been a successful player in the competitive compact crossover SUV game, but perhaps a little conservative in terms of dash and presence, at least in the eyes of the company’s product planners. That’s the mission of the new 2018 BMW X2, to have  more pizzazz, zestier styling, a little more sport and a little less vehicle.

Do not be deceived by the numerical progression from X1 to X2. Although the 105.1-inch wheelbase is identical, at 172.2 inches the X2 is actually 3.2 inches shorter than X1, and its height—60.1 inches—is 2.4 inches lower.

But the subcompact X2 is conceived to make a bigger impact with its sportier styling. Though it’s not as long as its X1 mechanical cousin, its proportions—long hood, raked windshield, sloping roofline culminating in an extended spoiler, and muscular haunches—have a more athletic appearance.

New design cues

Other unique cosmetic elements include BMW’s roundel logo riding on the X2’s C-pillar, and a new rendition—wider at the bottom than the top—of the company’s so-called kidney grille will ultimately find its way across the entire model line. A human with kidneys shaped like these would probably be in serious trouble, but it works for BMW.

Owners wishing for even more visual sport in their X2 can opt for the M Sport X package, which includes revised front and rear bumpers, rocker extensions, and 19-inch wheels, with the further option of 20-inchers. The standard X2 is equipped with 18-inch wheels; 19-inch wheels are optional. There’s also an M Sport package that reduces static ride height by 0.4 inch. Stiffer suspension components, with available adaptive dampers, add to the vehicle’s agility.

Although European editions of the X2 offer several engine choices, including a diesel, the X2 will have just one, the same 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbo that propels the X1 (228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque), and the same 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, with paddle shifters giving the driver a manual shift mode option. The M Sport X package includes a Sport Automatic version of the transmission, equipped with paddle shifters to give the driver a manual operating option and quicker shifting.

There are three drive modes: Eco Pro, Comfort, and Sport. Each affects throttle response, upshifts and downshifts, and steering. And BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system, with hill descent control, is a standard feature.

Also: Get your first look at the new and redesigned cars of 2018

Smaller and quicker

Thanks to its tidier dimensions, the X2 will weigh in at 3,662 pounds, according to BMW, some 70 pounds lighter than the X1, giving it an edge in acceleration. BMW forecasts 6.3 seconds to 60 mph, a wink quicker than the X1 has posted in contemporary road tests. And it’s fair to note that BMW performance predictions tend to be a bit conservative.

It’s also reasonable to expect that lower curb weight and a slightly lower center of gravity will make the X2 a little handier in terms of transient response.

Interior features are typical BMW—sporty seats, driver-focused controls, exemplary ergonomics. Like most new vehicles, the X2 features soft touch materials throughout the cabin, with five different leather upholstery choices, three different trim elements, and six different shades of ambient lighting. The X2 option list also includes a panoramic sunroof.

BMW’s ConnectedDrive telematics system provides state-of-the-art infotainment and connectivity, and three ways for the driver to interact with the vehicle—the sixth generation of the iDrive Controller, touchscreen (6.5-inch standard, 8.0-inch upgrade), and cloud-based voice control. There’s also an extensive menu of driver assist features, standard and optional. Like the infotainment and connectivity array, they’re generally the same as those in the X1.

The X2 is due to go on sale in the U.S. next spring as a 2018 model. With its U.S. showroom debut still months away, BMW hasn’t released any pricing information. Current X1 MSRPs top out just under $37,000. Whether pricing for the sportier X2 will be parallel or perhaps a little higher remains to be seen.

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