The 2 Series Active Tourer was never a pretty car, in fact it was very divisive among BMW fans as its ‘function over form’ appearance made it a BMW you wanted to park around the corner and out of sight. The Active Tourer used the big MINI chassis and thanks to its front wheel drive layout was a very spacious car compared to the usual BMW cosy cockpits in its smaller cars. The people carrier sector of the compact car market is is niche to say the least, and the premium part of this category of car represents a fraction of the niche and the AT (Active Tourer) has it all to itself. Pricing starts from €41,225.
The latest 2 Series Active Tourer is a far better looking car than the first generation – looking more like a bloated hatchback rather than a blocky MPV. The AT is larger too although you’d be forgiven for thinking it looks smaller. The AT sits on new underpinnings that can accommodate both fuel and electric powertrain options. The AT has a sleeker, no sleeker is not a word one can really use to describe the Active Tourer… softer… yes softer appearance thanks to improved exterior styling. The large and distractive BMW family grille, that conceals a radar sensor for the optional driver assistance system, does an excellent job of distraction while filling the rear view mirrors of cars in front as it announces its presence. Full LED headlights are standard (adaptive LEDs are optional).
The cabin gets a fresh dashboard with a driver orientated curved display. The AT’s dash mounted technology uses the latest BMW operating system and is a connected car thanks to its ‘system 8’ tech first seen in the BMW iX and i4 EVs. The interior is airy and looks bang up to the minute especially from the front seats. The rear seats can take three and the back is spacious and easy to access. The Active Tourer is all about being easy to live with making it a very good family car. This ease of use combines with a commanding driving position, great access and egress. The 218d has a large 470 litre boot and hatchback functionality. With the rear seats down there is 1455 litres of cargo area to play with. Petrol models get a little less boot space at 415 – 1405 litres while the PHEVs have a maximum seats down boot area of 1370 litres.
Our test car is the 150hp/360nm 218d. Its four cylinder diesel is a brisk engine that also delivers very good fuel economy. The front wheel drive car is simple and near effortless to drive. The car can also be quite dynamic when asked to be. All versions use a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. On the road the drive delivered by the 218d is a lot more is fun than expected aided by the taller-than-a-hatchback driving position. 0-100km/h takes 8.8 seconds. Top speed is 220km/h. Fuel consumption is quoted at 53.3-58.9 l/100km.
BMW uses mild hybrid (MHEV) technology with its fossil fuelled engines in the AT and there are two PHEV variants on the way equipped with fifth generation eDrive technology. The AT is offered in Sport, Luxury and M Sport grades. Two petrols and one diesel are initially offered in Ireland. BMW sold more than 430,000 first generation models – but that was before the rise of the SUV. The new 2 Series Active Tourer is impressive and there are xDrive all wheel drive versions available too. Active and passive safety features are first rate too so there is a lot to like. The burning question is has its target audience strayed and been pinched in recent years by the more fashionable SUV and crossover offerings? I think many have, but only time will tell.