This is BMW's answer to a downsized, eco-friendly motoring future: the Concept Active Tourer. It's a city-car sized MPV with a plug-in hybrid powertrain that'll return up to 113mpg, according to BMW's figures.
Moreover, this car previews the future of smaller BMWs going front wheel-drive, sharing architecture with Mini and liberating more interior space.
Powertrain details of the 2012 BMW Concept Active Tourer
Under the stubby-nosed bonnet of the Concept Active Tourer, there's a transversely mounted 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine with direct injection and a turbocharger. Look away now, Ultimate Driving Machine devotees: the petrol engine drives the front wheels of this Beemer. Meanwhile, the rears are powered by an electric motor which can run on battery power alone for up to 20 miles.
Together, the powerplants team up to produce 188bhp, and since the electric motor hands over all 147lb ft of torque from 0rpm, off-the-line performance is spritely. BMW claim the car will pass 62mph in 'less than eight seconds' and do a thoroughly adequate 125mph.
Moreover, the claimed economy figures are just as high. The potential for up to 113mpg and 60g/km in CO2 emissions would make the Concept Active Tourer by far the most economical car in its class if it were to go into production 'as is.'
Will the 2012 Concept Active Tourer make the showroom intact?
Certain aspects will, like the three-pot engine, that'll see duty in the next 1-series, Mini, and BMW's future smaller models. Styling wise, there'll be a taller, MPV BMW on the roads soon to tackle taller premium hatches like the Mercedes B-class. Place your bets on 1-series GT being the badge...
The five-seater interior will certainly have to be diluted for production, with more conventional soft-touch plastics replacing the laminated wood and ambient-lit floating dashboard design. Thanks to the front-drive powertrains and housing the batteries under the rear floor, cabin space is more generous than is normal in a small BMW, where the gubbins required to transmit drive to the rear swallow legroom.
>> Is BMW's canny move to downsize a clever sign of the times, or should the brand resolutely hold on to rear-drive dynamics? We look forward to reading your discussions in the comments below