Cape Town - There’s a standing joke that BMW first invents a niche and then builds a car to fill it. Here we have yet another sporty crossover, or SAV as BMW likes to call it, and it's kind of like an X6, just a lot smaller.

It’s a little shorter overall than the X1, on the same wheelbase, and more than seven centimetres lower - a seriously sporty four-door coupé with a sexy fastback roofline, all-wheel drive on diesel variants and enough ground clearance to cope with the middelmannetjie on all but the worst of South Africa’s roads less travelled.

It’s being launched in South Africa this week in a four-strong line-up with a choice of one turbodiesel and one turbopetrol four, each two litres in capacity and available in two distinctly different trim packs - M Sport and M Sport X; it’s a telling reflection on South African BMW customers that we’re not getting the base models at all. They’ll be joined in May by 1.5-litre three-cylinder xDrive18i derivatives, also in M Sport and M Sport X trim.

The range-topping xDrive 20d is rated for 140kW at 4000 revs and 400Nm from 1750-2500rpm and drives all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. 0-100km/h is quoted at 7.8 seconds and top speed as 219km/h.

The sDrive20i, good for a claimed 141kW from 5000-6000rpm and 280Nm from 1350-4600, drives the front wheels through a seven-speed double-clutch transmission that will allegedly launch it to 100km/h in 7.7 seconds and on to 227km/h.

Coming in May is the sDrive18i, dispensing a quoted 103kW from 4600-6500 revs and 220Nm from 1480-4200rpm, sprinting to 100 in 9.6 seconds and topping out at 205km/h. It’ll be offered with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed double-clutch transmission.

Trim Packages

The M Sport exterior trim channels BMW’s Touring Car racing heritage with dark grey metallic inlays in the front splitter, the body-colour side skirts and the rear diffuser. Standard wheel size is 19 inch, with 20 inch as an option.

All SA market X2s come with M Sport suspension; in addition, the suspension ride height on the M Sport models is 10mm lower than that of the X and it’s also available with optional dynamic damper control .The cabin is trimmed in a mix of dark grey micro hexagon fabric and alcantara synthetic suede with M piping and blue contrast stitching, and aluminium hexagon trim finishers.

The M Sport X looks to BMW’s off-road exploits - notably in South America - for inspiration, using pale grey for specific M Sport X aero trim elements to make the car look as if it has more than a 10mm ground clearance advantage over the M Sport models. Standard wheel size is 19 inch, with 20 inch as an option.

The interior boasts the same dark grey micro hexagon fabric and alcantara synthetic suede mix as the M Sport, but with yellow contrast stitching and aluminium hexagon trim finishers in pearl effect chrome. Both trim packs are also available with full leather upholstery in black or a range of two-tone treatments.

IOL Motoring's Dave Abrahams is driving the new X2 on the SA launch as you read this; read his driving impressions of BMW's latest on Thursday.

BMW X2: Prices at Launch

X2 sDrive20i M Sport R644 252
X2 sDrive20i M Sport X R673 952
X2 xDrive20d M Sport R694 154
X2 xDrive20d M Sport X R723 854

Coming in May

X2 sDrive18i M Sport R573 122
X2 sDrive18i M Sport AT R602 822
X2 xDrive18i M Sport X R593 922
X2 xDrive18i M Sport X AT R623 622

IOL Motoring