Isuzu MU-X VS BMW X2
- Reversing camera as standard
- Suspension upgrade
- Off-road capability
- No AEB
- No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
- Still noisy when driven hard
- Great styling
- Fun and agile to drive
- Practicality not compromised too much
- Tyre noise
- Less practical than an X1
- No AEB
While MY17 MU-X signalled a massive change for the better in Isuzu Ute Australia’s (IUA) SUV line-up, this year is more of a subdued affair.
Last year heralded the arrival of a new 3.0-litre engine, new six-speed automatic transmission, and upgraded Aussie-specific suspension, as well as styling tweaks; MY18 MU-Xs get extended service intervals and a new exterior colour.
It’s a clear case of IUA applying a ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach to its popular ute-based SUV.
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
Every other review of the new BMW X2 will start by telling you that last year SUVs outsold regular cars, not just within the German brand’s own sales department, but for the whole Australian car market, and they’ll go on and on.
But you’re busy and we’re not going to do that. You’re here because you’ve seen one of those billboards or TV ads for the BMW X2, or one on the road. You want to know what it is and whether you need this small SUV in your life rather than an Audi Q2, Mercedes-Benz GLA or Volvo XC40.
You’re in luck, we drove the sDrive20i, which is the most powerful X2, at its Australian launch and there’s so much to tell you.
We’ll answer such questions as: Is it as fast as it looks? Is it possible for a 191cm tall man to sit in the back without having surgery first? We’ll even reveal which of the world’s least attractive BMWs is its twin-under-the-skin.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The MU-X is a solid SUV wagon and it only continues to gain more appeal and, with it, a growing legion of fans. You certainly see a lot of them around – in the bush, in the suburbs and on city streets.
It’s not flash or posh but it’s a very practical daily driver or weekend tourer and performs very well in the real world. The top choice for me remains the LS-T.
Is the MU-X your kind of SUV? Tell us in the comments below.
That BMW can take one of it’s least good looking and docile cars and create something which is not only gorgeous but engaging to drive is impressive. The X2 does lose some of the practicality of its twin-under-the-skin sibling, and if you have a small family, buying the X1 would be the sensible thing to do. But then again, not all practicality is lost in the X2. There’s just enough room in the back for tall people like me and that boot capacity is still good for the class.
Would you pick an X2 over an Audi Q2? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
This launch marked no noteworthy styling changes in the MU-X, inside or out. It remains a blocky but good-looking unit, blending a bush-ready appearance with styling that doesn’t look out of place in an urban setting.
Build quality and fit and finish seem as sturdy as we’ve come to expect from IUA’s mainstream offerings.
Oh, heck yes, there’s a lot that’s interesting about the X2’s design. Actually, I reckon it’s one of the most interesting BMWs in years.
For starters, the exterior has stayed pretty true to the adventurous look of X2 Concept we glimpsed for the first time back in 2016 at the Paris Motor Show.
There’s that short-for-a-BMW beak; that grille which is unique for the brand in that it's wider at the base than at the top; there’s that wedged profile and the short rear overhang; the dual exhaust tips and then there’s BMW badge placed on the C-Pillar just like beautiful Bimmers of the past such as the 1973 3.0CS.
BMW could have easily created a mini version of an X4 or X6 models, but didn’t, which in my books is a good thing because this X2 look gorgeous and better than the Mini Countryman, the Audi Q2 and Benz GLA in my eyes.
What makes the X2’s design even more impressive is that under its metal skin this car is almost identical to one of the ugliest (well, I think so) BMWs ever made - the X1. They share the same platform, even the same structure, but the only exterior parts the two have in common are the door handles and the shark fin antenna.
The X2's dimensions show it to be 79mm shorter in length end-to-end that the X1, but just 3mm wider at 1824mm and 70mm shorter in height. So it's smaller in size, but not by much.
Inside the similarities are obvious, actually the interior of the X2 is almost identical to the X1 – there’s the ‘carved out’ centre console area and the large, flat dash which will be familiar to all BMW owners.
The sDrive20i has that premium cabin feel, and doesn’t even hint of having been done on the cheap to bring the price down.
I reckon the X2 sDrive20i looks better with the M-Sport package, that super-sharp front splitter is the business, and also I’m not a fan of yellow stitching.
The MU-X’s cabin, unchanged, should remain an easy place in which to travel. It’s roomy enough for everyone.
The second row is a 60/40 split-fold with a fold-away centre armrest. The third row is a tight fit for adults but that’s nothing unusual in most seven-seaters.
There is 235 litres of boot space when the third row is up, expanding to 878 litres when the 50/50 split-fold third row is folded flat. When the second and third rows are down, there is 1830 litres of space.
The MU-X has 12 cupholders, 18 'storage solutions' (door compartments with bottle bulge, coat hooks, rear cargo organiser box, etc), USB ports (front and rear) and three 12V power outlets (centre dash, glove box and rear cargo area).
The MU-X has a braked towing capacity of 3000kg, 750kg unbraked.
The X2 shares the same platform as the super practical X1. So, did the X2 gain good looks and lose practicality? After all, isn’t it a law of nature that you can’t be good looking and practical at the same time?
Well, the X2 is shorter in length than the X1 and its boot space is 23 litres smaller, too, with a capacity of 470 litres. The wheelbase of a car often determines cabin space and the X2’s 2670mm is the same as the X1, but legroom behind my driving position in the X2 was less than the in the X1.
I’m 191cm tall and had about 20mm of air between my knees and the seat back in the X2 – you can add another 15mm for the X1.
Headroom in the X2 is also limited due to the sloping roofline, with my hair just skimming the ceiling. That coupe styling also affects visibility for rear passengers through the side windows which are high and small. The X1 has large, rear window with low sills – great for kids in the back.
Up front, the cockpit is roomy with good storage space including two cupholders, and a large tray under the folding centre armrest. There are two more cupholders for the rear seats and all doors have large pockets with bottles holders.
Price and features
There are seven variants in the MY18 MU-X range: the 4x2 LS-M auto ($42,900), 4x2 LS-U auto ($45,200), 4x2 LS-T auto ($48,900), 4x4 LS-M auto ($50,200), 4x4 LS-U manual ($50,400), 4x4 LS-U auto ($52,500), and 4x4 LS-T auto ($56,200). All are seven-seater SUVs.
The base-spec LS-M’s standard features include 7.0-inch touchscreen with USB and Bluetooth streaming, reversing camera and rear park assist sensors, LED daytime running lights, gun metallic front grille, bi-LED projector headlights, colour-coded door handles and side mirrors, hill descent control, air-conditioning, power windows, and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The LS-U gets an 8.0-inch touchscreen, chrome front grille, door handles and side mirrors, as well as side steps, rear cabin cooling vents, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The LS-T also gets leather-accented seats, passive entry and start system, six-way adjustable electric driver’s seat, roof rails, tailgate spoiler, chrome muffler tip and 10-inch DVD screen for rear passengers.
The MY18 MU-X is available in seven colours: 'Cosmic Black Mica', 'Obsidian Grey Mica', 'Havana Brown Mica', 'Silky White Pearl', 'Splash White', 'Titanium Silver' and the new 'Magnetic Red Mica' option.
How much is a BMW X2? Well BMW has brought one version of the X2 to Australia, for now – it’s the sDrive20i, a petrol powered, front-wheel drive, and it lists (RRP) for $55,900 (before on-road costs). Just to be clear, this isnt' a 'launch edition', but the first variant of the X2 to arrive in Australia.
Later in 2018 an sDrive18i will take its place at the entry-point of the range, and the xDrive20d diesel all-wheel drive will slip into the top spot in the X2 line-up, with price lists and specs to be announced closer to their launch.
The sDrive20i does sit high in the X2 range and that means it’s not short on features. Coming standard is a 6.5-inch touchscreen with sat nav and a reversing camera, there’s a 100W stereo with digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, Alcantara and cloth upholstery, sports front seats, M-Sport steering wheel, air-conditioning, auto parking system, front and rear parking sensors, LED headlights, and a power tailgate.
When you buy the sDrive20i it will come fitted with the 'M-Sport X' package as standard and that adds tough looking ‘Frozen Grey’ cladding to the front and rear bumpers, aas well as the door sills and wheelarches.
BMW has banked on not everybody being a fan of the grey bits and as a no-cost option you can have the X2 with the 'M-Sport' package. This adds an M-Sport aero kit with a more motorsport inspired front splitter and diffuser, and inserts in a hue BMW calls 'Dark Shadow'. Both packages come with 19-inch light alloy wheels in slightly different styles.
The interiors of both M-Sport X and M-Sport cars are identical save for the contrasting yellow stitching on the former's upholstery, whereas the latter has blue stitching and an aluminium interior trim.
An optional 'Innovations Package' ($2600) adds a more sophisticated sat nav system, head-up display and adaptive cruise control.
The 'Comfort Package' ($2700) brings a proximity key, plus heated and power-adjusted driver and front passenger seats.
The 'Style Plus Package' ($3300) and will see your X2 rolling on 20-inch wheels, with a panoramic sunroof and metallic paintwork.
Talking of paint colours, only 'Alpine White' is free. Well, it doesn’t cost extra. If you want any other colour it will be a metallic one and it will cost you $1547. But that opens up 'Sunset Orange', 'Galvanic Gold', 'Misano Blue', 'Mediterranean Blue', 'Sparkling Storm', 'Mineral Grey' and 'Black Sapphire'.
At $55,900 the sDrive20i is pricey compared to its Audi Q2 rival – the 2.0TFSI Quattro sport is $48,500.
Also keep in mind that an X1 with the same engine lists for $53,600 and it shares so much of the same DNA. How much? Prepare to have your mind blown in the section below.
Engine & trans
The sDrive20i has a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine with 141kW of power and 280Nm of torque.
The ‘s’ in sDrive means this is a front-wheel drive car. Same goes for the sDrive18i which has a 103kW/220Nm three-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine.
BMW has told us little about the other X2 variants but has given us the engine specifications. The xDrive20d is, you guessed it, all-wheel drive (awd) and has a 2.0-litre four cylinder turbo-diesel engine which is good for 140kW/400Nm. That's less horsepower but more torque than the 20i.
Both petrol variants use a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, while the diesel uses a traditional eight-speed automatic.
BMW says the 20i and 20d accelerate from 0-100km/h in 7.7 seconds, which isn’t slow (but isn’t super faster, either) while the 18i will get there, eventually, at 9.6sec.
The braked towing capacity for the sDrive18i, sDrive 20i and xDrive20d is 1700kg, 1800kg and 2000kg respectively.
There is no rear-wheel drive X2, although such a thing that would be great. And yes, no manual transmission.
The X2 weighs 1415kg in sDrive18i form, 1460kg for the sDrive20i and 1555kg for the xDrive20d.
We spent very little time in any new models and we’d have to drive a MY18 MU-X for a week or more to get a good handle on real-world fuel consumption but Isuzu claims the MU-X gets through 7.9L/100km (combined) in 4x4 LS-U and LS-T guises, 8.0L/100km (combined) in 4x2 LS-M, and 8.1L/100km (combined) in 4x2 LS-U and LS-T and 4x4 LS-M.
Every MY18 MU-X has a 65-litre fuel tank.
BMW says the sDrive20i should use 6.0L/100km over a combination of open and urban roads, which is good mileage. Our test car’s on-board computer told us it was averaging 7.2L/100km for fuel economy and that was on mainly country roads.
Official fuel consumption claims for the yet to be released sDrive18i and xDrive20d haven't been confirmed, but we’ll let you know just how thirsty they are as soon as we have the chance to drive them locally later in the year.
Running 20 psi (pounds per square inch) in our Bridgestone Dueler or Toyo Open Country tyres, the Isuzus handled everything on the 4WD loop with ease, including runs up and down steep greasy-muddy hills peppered with rocks and tree-root hazards, tight turns in between trees, plowing through mud puddles and more.
No surprise at its efficacy on rough terrain because the D-Max and MU-X work off the proven '4X4 Terrain Command' system, operated via a dial near the auto shifter, and which can be switched on the move from 2High to 4High at speeds of up to 100km/h.
To engage 4L you need to be stationary.
The MU-X is 4825mm long, 1860mm wide (excluding wing mirrors), 1860mm high (the 4x2 LS-M is 1825mm high) and has a 3095mm wheelbase and 1570mm track. It has a 11.6m turning circle. Kerb weight is listed as from 1992kg (4x2 LS-M) to 2157kg (4x4 LS-T).
All MU-Xs except 4x2 and 4x4 LS-M models (220mm), have 230mm ground clearance. All MU-Xs except 4x2 and 4x4 LS-M models have 24 degrees approach angle (LS-M: 23.3), 25.1 degrees departure angle (LS-M: 24.6), and 19.5 degrees ramp-over angle (LS-M: 18.7).
The MU-X retains the benefits of the previous generation’s hill start assist (designed to hold gear during climbs) and hill descent control (which maintains engine-braking speed on downhills and is able to be regulated with acceleration or braking).
Underbody protection includes under-front steel plate skid/splash shield on every MU-X; and steel plate guards on the sump, transfer case and fuel tank leading edge on all 4x4 models.
The X2 and X1 share the same platform, structure and engines but feel entirely different to drive.
You can feel the difference from the moment you drop behind the X2’s wheel. You sit so much lower in this car – 20mm lower than the X1. That driving position makes you feel part of the car rather than riding on top of it as you do in the X1.
The X2’s ride height is also 10mm lower than the X1’s and this lowers the car’s centre of mass and improves handling. Ground clearance is 182mm.
BMW’s engineers wanted to give the X2 more agility than the X1, and did this by adding about 10 minutes of negative camber to the front wheels for better cornering ability. The addition of a swaybar with pre-loaded bushes to control body roll earlier meant softer dampers could be used for a more comfortable ride but still good handling.
The X2’s body is also 10 per cent stiffer than the X1’s, and this extra rigidity improves its agility, too.
It’s not the most powerful or quickest, not by a long shot, but it feels far more like a sedan because of that lack of the heaving body roll (common on bigger SUVs) and that low driving position.
Steering feel is superb, the larger SUVs feel like cruise ships with steering wheels that need to be spun endlessly to navigate through a corner, but the X2’s linear steering is sharp, consistent and turn-in is excellent.
Only the sDrive20i was available to drive at the launch and I can say the 2.0-litre engine is a good thing – good for overtaking, good for power up hills and good for country roads and darting through urban traffic.
We did all of this and the dual-clutch auto performed smoothly even in bumper-to-bumper traffic which can expose this type of transmission's jerky behaviour.
It’s not all perfect – there was a plenty of road noise from the large, low-profile run flat-tyres filtering into the cabin and the ride on them is a bit ‘gritty’ and hard.
I’m secretly hoping BMW will give the X2 something a bit more potent later on – maybe the straight six from the M140i hatch. An X2 M – a proper performance X2, now I’d want to drive that.
The MU-X has a maximum five-star ANCAP rating from April 2017.
Standard safety gear includes six airbags (dual front, side and full-length curtain), ABS with electronic brake-force distribution, ESC, traction control and EBA (emergency brake assist), 'Hill Start Assist' and 'Hill Descent Control', plus three top-tether ISOFIX child-seat points in the rear seat.
The X2 has been awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP rating but be aware that it was given this score based on how the X1 performed when it was crash tested in 2015.
EuroNCAP and ANCAP felt that because both cars share the same platform and structure then only additional testing to the X2 was needed.
Safety technology has also come a long way since 2015 and the bar has been raised for achieving five star with AEB coming standard on many cars.
The X2 does not have AEB, nor is it available as an option, because the car uses cameras for vehicle and pedestrian detection, not radar which is needed for AEB.
There is a light braking function which slows the vehicle if a pedestrian is detected in the car's path or a collision is imminent with another car, but the system won’t bring the vehicle to a complete stop to avoid an impact. BMW said it felt certain that the X2 would meet five-star standards today.
You will find traction and stability control, plus run flat tyres.
For child seats you’ll find two ISOFIX mounts and three top-tether anchor points across the rear row.
Servicing is recommended at 12-month/15,000km intervals. Prices are: $350 (at 12 months/15,000km), $450 (at 24 months/30,000km), $500 (at 36 months/45,000km) $450 (at 48 months/60,000km) and $340 at 60 months/75,000km – for a total cost of $2090.