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A tall, compact family wagon, the Active Tourer takes BMW virtues into fresh territory.
BMW used to tease its rivals for building front-drive cars. No longer. The German brand, known best for blending luxury and performance, has introduced the practical new 2 Series Active Tourer family car - with, you guessed it, front-drive.
The kind of people looking at this car couldn't care less about the mechanics but they are likely to appreciate the extra cabin room a front-drive setup allows, as well as the fuel consumption improvements. The five-seater is a direct rival for the Mercedes-Benz B-Class and also shapes up against urban-focused compact SUVs . It is best described as a tall compact family wagon.
So, it isn't exactly cheap but it is a BMW.
Prices start at $44,400 for the 218i petrol three-cylinder. Pay $47,400 for the 218d diesel, $50,900 for the 220i four-cylinder petrol and, top-of-the-line, $54,900 for the more potent four-cylinder petrol 225i. All engines are turbos.
So, it isn't exactly cheap but it is a BMW. It feels luxurious inside and also comes with a decent amount of standard gear you might expect to pay extra for, such as a power tailgate, self-parking, satnav, high beams that dip automatically, collision warning and reversing camera. Leather seats are standard only on the 225i and a $1000 option on the others.
A chunk of the 2 Series is common with the Clubman made by Mini, which happens to be owned by BMW. The drivetrains are near-identical to the Clubman's and the suspension, including a multi-link rear system, is common, too. This is no bad thing, the engines are perky and efficient and Mini suspension fundamentals are good.
The three-cylinder base engine runs a six-speed automatic, returning 5.2L/100km, and the others get an eight-speed auto. The economy king is the turbo diesel, which uses only 4.2L/100km.
You can't expect a car that is so practical to look awesome too. The cabin is luxurious and has a clean and elegant look and, most importantly, it's spacious. Clever design elements, such as a sliding second seat row, with reclining backs and a 40-20-40 split layout are welcome, along with a lot of headroom and storage solutions such as a 100L hidey hole under cargo floor (but there is no spare wheel). Boot space is a healthy 468L.
Unlike the Mini Clubman models, the Active Tourer comes standard with reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors. It will also call for help should you have an accident (its SIM can work on any network) and will alert you if you drift out of a lane or are about to hit something or someone. There are six airbags and five crash test stars from Euro NCAP.
Spacious, fuel efficient and with plenty of standard kit, the Active Tourer makes sense. The interior is also well designed, mixing practicality and style. If you expect BMW sporty handling and performance you will be disappointed - it's not that kind of car.
The suspension is generally good but there is a low-speed harshness that can be annoying, while the tyre noise can be occasionally bad on some country roads. The base three-cylinder has to work hard to maintain a reasonable pace. The diesel option suits the car - it isn't a rocket but gets along nicely without any fuss - and the 2.0-litre is perky enough. There is little point buying the top-shelf 170kW job because the performance is wasted. The auto gearboxes are competent, much better than the Benz B-Class continuously variable transmission.
Sensible arguments apart, it still might miss the target in Australia. Many customers love the promised "adventure" of a compact SUV (even if it never sees a dirt road), the rugged design and up-high command driving position. The 2 Series AT seats are almost as high but the design is vanilla.
A family hatch designed for practicality and efficiency rather than driving thrills. In many ways it is more sensible than a compact SUV but bland design and lack of street cred could count against it.
|220i||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$21,000 – 28,490||2014 BMW 2 Series 2014 220i Pricing and Specs|
|220i Modern Line||2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$21,000 – 28,490||2014 BMW 2 Series 2014 220i Modern Line Pricing and Specs|
|220d Sport Line||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$17,500 – 24,310||2014 BMW 2 Series 2014 220d Sport Line Pricing and Specs|
|218i Active Tourer Luxury Line||1.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$16,200 – 22,550||2014 BMW 2 Series 2014 218i Active Tourer Luxury Line Pricing and Specs|