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Motoring: New front for BMW

PUBLISHED: 06:59 13 March 2015 | UPDATED: 06:59 13 March 2015

The 2 Series Active Tourer introduces front-wheel drive to the marque and takes BMW into the multi-purpose vehicle market

The 2 Series Active Tourer introduces front-wheel drive to the marque and takes BMW into the multi-purpose vehicle market

BMW

The 2 Series Active Tourer marks a new era and several firsts for BMW. Motoring editor Andy Russell puts the package to the test

The well thought-out interiorThe well thought-out interior

Given a wealth of exciting models over the years to wear the BMW badge, you might not find much to get worked up about when it comes to the new 2 Series Active Tourer. But this smart, versatile family-friendly vehicle actually boasts some notable firsts that mark a new era for the BMW brand.

The Active Tourer name gives the first clue – this model takes BMW into the multi-purpose vehicle market, a growing part of any car-maker’s line-up with many motorists looking for a one-size-fits-all lifestyle solution for a wide range of uses and activities. For these drivers, practicality is as important as performance so it’s appropriate that the Active Tourer is the first front-wheel drive production BMW.

The German car-maker has defiantly stuck to its rear-wheel drive ethos, later boosting it with all-wheel drive. But, with some potential buyers still put off by tales of BMWs not coping well in snowy, icy driving conditions, this front-wheel drive model not only opens up a new market sector for the company but could open up a new customer base.

The Active Tourer certainly has looks going for it with its sleek shape, which picks up all the familiar BMW design cues, looking really rather sporty against some boxy rivals. And while it might be compact on the outside, it’s remarkably roomy inside thanks to smart thinking and clever touches when it comes to practicality.

Slightly longer than a 1 Series hatchback and higher than an X1 sport utility vehicle, the Active Tourer has a higher seating position than both, which makes getting in and out easy and gives better visibility.

The upmarket cabin and user-friendly fascia has a traditional BMW ambience but the overall feeling is one of spaciousness with that tall roof and a rear bench seat cushion that splits 60/40 and slides back and forth to vary legroom and load space. With the seats pushed right back there is limousine-like legroom in the back and it’s also sufficient for adults with them pushed forward, provided those up front aren’t long-legged.

The well-shaped boot, with a sill level floor and storage beneath, ranges from 468 to 1,510 litres. The rear seat backrest splits 40/20/40 to create a long flat load bay for added versatility and the seat backs can also be reclined for added comfort.

A full range of turbo charged engines is now available, including 150 and 190hp 2-litre diesel in 218d and 220d and 192, and 231hp 2-litre petrol in 220i and 225i. But the most interesting are the 1.5-litre units, shared with the new MINI, in the 116hp 216d and 136hp 218i – the first time three-cylinder technology has been used in mainstream models rather than just hybrids.

If you don’t do the miles, the flexible, refined 1.5-litre petrol model makes a lot of sense, with emissions not much higher than the diesel triple, a decent turn of pace and 45-50mpg in real-world driving.

Just because the Active Tourer has front-wheel drive – all-wheel drive xDrive is standard on 225i and offered on 220d – don’t think it won’t feel like a BMW. It’s agile through the corners but doesn’t quite have that ultimate dynamic feel when being driven enthusiastically. The ride is firm but compliant, capably soaking up bumps and lumps, but tyre noise is evident on poorly-surfaced roads.

A range of trims – SE, Sport, Luxury and M Sport – combine attractive equipment levels with character and that’s before you dip into the extensive options list.

The 2 Series Active Tourer creates several new opportunities for BMW and brings another premium brand into the increasingly popular multi-purpose vehicle market. With the appeal of the badge, it has all the makings of another success for the German giant.

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FACTFILE

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

■ Price: BMW 2i8i Sport Active Tourer £23,375 (range £22,125-£31,995)

■ Engine: 1,499cc, 136hp, three-cylinder turbo petrol

■ Performance: 0-62mph 9.3 seconds; top speed 124mph

■ MPG: Urban 46.3; extra urban 65.7; combined 57.6

■ Size: Length 4,342mm; width; 2,038mm; height 1,586mm

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