BMW purists, look away now. Family guys with growing broods and a penchant for premium badges: step right up. This is the new BMW 2-series Active Tourer. It’s a front-wheel drive-five seater MPV with a choice of turbocharged three- and four-cylinder engines.
Prices will start at less than £23,000, and it’s on sale in the UK in September 2014. A seven-seat version will arrive sometime in 2015.
Hang on, isn’t the BMW 2-series a coupe?
You’re thinking of the rear-drive two-door that’s spawned the rather wonderful new M235i. The Active Tourer, despite being named to fit in with the BMW brand, actually has more in common with the new Mini Cooper. It shares its front-drive underpinnings and engines, but not its cheeky retro looks.
You’re telling me!
The Active Tourer is a Ford C-Max-sized MPV. But, BMW claims that shifting the trademark kidney grilles below the headlights and applying a Hofmeister kink to the window line gives the car a ‘distinctive, dynamic appearance’, which apparently ‘oozes sportiness’. Well, that’s Munich’s take. Doubtless you’ll tell us your thoughts in the comment section below…
Will the 2-series torque-steer?
BMW says it won’t. After all, the Mini has proved BMW can set-up one hell of a front-wheel drive chassis, and the new MPV pinches tech from the latest Cooper S. That sees a McPherson-type strut front and a multi-link rear suspension arrangement, as well as the Mini’s electrically assisted power steering, which can counteract torque-steer under hard acceleration.
What powers the BMW 2-series Active Tourer?
The 218i is powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine, borrowed from the new Mini Cooper. Mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, it develops 134bhp and can achieve up to 57.6mpg. It’s also the lightest of the 2-series family, at 1320kg.
Swap one letter on the tailgate and you get the 218d. This diesel version has four cylinders, a 148bhp/243lb ft power output, and will reach 62mph in 8.9sec. But you buy a diesel for its fuel frugality: the 218d will do up to 78.4mpg.
No M Division 2-series Active Tourer?
Thankfully not! There is a faster model coming soon though. The 225i, which will reach UK shores in November, use a four-cylinder petrol engine to deliver 228bhp and 0-62mph in a hot hatch-challenging 6.8sec. Flat out, it’ll do 146mph, and when you’re very much not flat out, BMW claims 47mpg. You can also spec an M Sport bodykit (!) and firmer suspension that lowers the 2-series Active Tourer by 10mm.
You’d think the 228bhp 225i would upset BMW’s claim of zero torque-steer, but given it’ll have ‘xDrive’ all-wheel drive as standard in the UK, the fastest Active Tourer should also be the grippiest.
In due course, BMW will expand the Active Tourer range with a 220i petrol, and two diesels to sandwich the 218d: the 216d and 220d. A six-speed automatic can be specified on the three-pot models, and an eight-speed auto (including a launch control function, weirdly) on the four-cylinder cars.
Tell me about the cabin
A 2670mm wheelbase and that lofty roof point to the 2-series Active Tourer being a roomy place to travel. The boot holds 468 litres with all five seats up. You can fold the rear bench down in a 40:20:40 configuration and, with the second-row folded, there’s a 1510-litre loadbay – both of those figures are trumped by the Mercedes B-class and Ford C-Max.
Inside, the familiar BMW architecture includes the driving mode selector toggle for switching between Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and an all-safety-nannies-off mode, and there’ll be the usual bewildering array of optional trim finishes.
>> BMW’s front-drive 2-series Active Tourer: over your dead body, or the family car you’ve always craved? Add your thoughts in the comments below