The year of X

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By Kap Maceda Aguila

THE global auto market continues to be enamored with the crossover format, which takes the utilitarian ethos of SUVs and blends it with the accoutrements of sedans. That the design hybrid exists across all price points is proof of healthy buyer appetite for these vehicles promising both space and sass. Munich-headquartered car maker BMW is obviously, and repeatedly, going to the well — steadily growing its ute lineup.

Over the weekend, SMC Asia Car Distributors Corp. (SMCACDC), official importer, distributor, and service provider of BMW automobiles, unveiled the first BMW X2 — joining other vehicles on display at its Joyfest 2018 event held at the Bonifacio Global City.

Billed as “attractive, exciting, and extroverted,” the X2 shares a platform with the X1, but the similarities ostensibly end there. The subcompact luxury SUV, first seen as a concept at the 2016 Paris Motor Show and officially launched in October 2017, borrows more stylistic cues from its bigger siblings in the X4 and X6, and all are touted as “sport activity coupes.”

Underneath the X2’s hood is a TwinPower Turbo diesel engine putting out 190 hp and 400 Nm. The X2 flaunts four-wheel-drive capability — courtesy of BMW’s signature xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive, mated to an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission “to enhance handling and responsive gear shifting.”

SMCACDC president Maricar C. Parco, in an exclusive interview with BusinessWorld, said that BMW fancies the X2 as a “rebel of the X range designed for the young or young at heart.”

Ms. Parco continued that it wasn’t easy to conceive of the X2’s groundbreaking design. “Our designs have been compared to competitors as conservative because our vehicles’ life cycles are typically longer,” she revealed. “You can see that the X2 is edgy but not faddish.” In the end though, it’s about giving the people what they want.

The executive has described 2018 as an “X year” because of BMW’s activity in the product line. The X2 launch follows the all-new X3’s unveiling in the first quarter, and comes ahead of the X4’s launch in the third quarter, and the anticipated global reveal of the first X7 later in the year. “Basically, we have an X vehicle for any life stage our clients are in,” Ms. Parco said. Worldwide, more than 5.4 million X model units have been sold since the first X5 debuted in 1999.

Meanwhile, in his presentation at the vehicle launch, SMCACDC marketing director Karl Magsuci said: “[The X2] unites the sporty, racing dynamics of a BMW coupe with the rugged character of an X model,” and while the vehicle is similar to its sport activity coupe siblings, the X2 is still distinct. “This is the first time that BMW is introducing an M Sport X model, which bears Frozen Grey color trims on the exterior,” further making it distinct from other vehicles in the X line.

Mr. Magsuci described the X2 as having a “fast-moving, low-slung” design, accentuated by wheels arches that are a “bit squared off,” aside from having side skirts, and a slim silhouette. Even its interpretation of BMW’s iconic kidney grille design is unique. Rather than being wide on top and narrow in the bottom, the X2 reverses it to “give the car the impression of a wider stance.”

In a statement, SMCACDC revealed the “BMW roundel on the C-pillars references a much-loved detail of classical BMW coupes, such as the 2000 CS and 3.0 CSL, highlighting the sporting DNA of the… X2.” Two new colors, Misano Blue and Galvanic Gold, also make their debut in the X2.

Inside, the X2 remains true to BMW tenets, averred Mr. Magsuci. “It is very driver centric, has dynamic lines, and is made with top-notch materials.” The upholstery is of Micro Hexagon fabric and Alcantara, marked by eye-catching contrast stitching. Drivers can choose from six different ambient lighting colors. A new version of BMW’s Parking Assistant should make parking chores easier, while the X2’s generous 470 liters of trunk capacity expresses its utilitarian character.

As for driving dynamics, the vehicle’s Dynamic Damper Suspension feature allows drivers to lower the ride stance by up to 10 millimeters to fine-tune it into a “sportier and more agile drive.”

In light of the price changes implemented with the Philippines’ new vehicle tax scheme, Ms. Parco said SMCACDC remains “cautiously optimistic that the market will adjust.” The recently launched X3 has proven to be the company’s best-seller in the first quarter of 2018, and the executive expressed confidence that “new offerings will continue to get them back on track” in terms of unit sales.

One thing that SMCACDC hopes to leverage is its membership in the conglomerate that is the San Miguel Corp., which wholly owns it. “Definitely, we will leverage synergies,” said Ms. Parco. “It’s good to be a part of the group, and there are so many things we can do.”

In the country, BMW “has the widest dealership network in the luxury vehicle segment with eight full service dealer facilities nationwide. The brand also has a growing motorcycle business with five BMW Motorrad dealerships,” reported the company.

The BMW X2 M Sport X retails for P4.390 million.