Don't overlook this excellent small MPV – it's a good steer…
- Some badge kudos
- Premium Interior
- Four-wheel drive option
- Three-cylinder refinement
- Tough competition
- Awkward styling
- Can get pricey
Among the barrage of new SUVs stealing sales from small people-carriers left, right and centre, it’s amazing that the 2 Series Active Tourer exists, and BMW has facelifted it into 2018 form. But then BMW wouldn’t be doing its job if it didn’t offer something for everyone.
And rivals such as the Ford C-Max, Volkswagen Golf SV and Citroen C4 Picasso should be worried; thanks to the BMW badge, the 2 Series Active Tourer is the most desirable compact five-seat people carrier on the market. There’s a seven-seat version due later as well, and both promise to provide practicality to BMW fans that can’t live without the company’s image and performance credentials.
Front-wheel drive as standard
Reading the spec sheet they could expect to be a little disappointed – gasp, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer was the first car to emerge from the hallowed halls of BMW that sends its drive through the front wheels – as long as you ignore the BMW-owned MINI brand of course.
However, what that means is it’s easier to drive than ever, and while ultimately it’s not quite as precise or engaging as a 3 Series saloon, it’s still the sharpest of the compact MPV pack with good steering and excellent body control.
Add to that the option of the xDrive four-wheel drive system, a choice that’s been incredibly popular across the rest of the firm’s range here in the UK, and it’s no surprise that the 225i and 220d models will be available with this later in the year.
BMW 2 Series Active Tourer: Petrol or Diesel choices
There’s a pair of engines to choose from; one four-cylinder diesel and one three-cylinder petrol, both with a focus on economy and efficiency rather than performance. The former produces 150hp and 330Nm from its 2.0-litre turbocharged unit, completing the 0-62mph sprint in 8.9 seconds.
Slightly slower, thanks to its smaller displacement (1.5-litres) is the three-cylinder turbocharged petrol, which takes 9.3 seconds to complete the same benchmark sprint and produces 136hp and 220Nm of torque. The good news is it’s more refined, and you’d struggle to detect it’s only a three-cylinder unless driving it hard.
Both engines are available in a variety of tunes – from the 216d via the 220d diesel, there are also the 220i and 225i petrol engines. A choice of automatic gearboxes, six-speed for the three-cylinders and eight-speed for the four, supplement the standard six-speed manual gearbox on most engines.
BMW 2 Series Active Tourer – still a green choice
The three-cylinder petrol and efficient diesel both boast industry-leading emissions, while the plug-in hybrid version adds limited battery-only running. All diesels have some form of exhaust gas treatment tech in the form of particulate filter and selective catalytic reduction using AdBlue.
The lower-powered petrol and diesel models put out less than 120g/km of CO2, ensuring cheap annual road tax costs, and even the triple-cylinder petrol can return over 57mpg – the diesel bettering this by over 10mpg on the combined cycle.
That’s all down to the firm’s EfficientDynamics kit, which on the 2 Series Active Tourer includes lightweight steel for the structure, Auto Start/Stop, brake energy recuperation and an Aero Curtain which improves aerodynamics to lower fuel consumption.
BMW 2 Series Active Tourer – practical and good to drive
Once you’re past the draw of the badge it’s this car’s promised practicality that is the 2 Series Active Tourer’s key appeal. Unlike some of its rivals there are no individual seats in the rear, but the bench can be split 40/20/40 for folding and slid forwards and backwards to alter luggage space behind. In it’s most luxurious position legroom rivals that of the firm’s flagship 7 Series saloon.
The boot can hold 486 litres in this setup, and is aided by a large tailgate opening and flat load floor, with almost no load lip. Fold all of the rear seats and the space increases to hold up to 1,510 litres, or around the same as a 3 Series Touring.
BMW 2 Series Active Tourer facelift for 2018
For 2018, the 2 Series Active Tourer has been facelifted. It was a very light-touch makeover, with new lights and bumpers at the front and rear, and a few tweaks to the interior. Job done.
The LED headlights have been sharpened up with BMW’s 'corona ring' daytime running lights. They can be upgraded to adaptive LEDs. The regular models and more aggressive M Sport are given bumpers that differentiate them further, and all models get a full-width lower grille below the kidney grille, which has been enlarged for 2018.
The instrument panel has been updated, and the iDrive has been upgraded in line with the rest of the BMW range.
The Parkers Verdict
Although the compact MPV class is slowing dying away, a victim of the SUV steamroller, it's good to know that BMW has made a good job of its first entrant in this once-vibrant market sector.
The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer has a low starting price, and there are plenty of tempting finance options to choose from. It's available in Sport, Luxury and M Sport trims. Stand-outs are its nice steering and road manners, quality interior, and a premium residuals, which keeps monthly finance costs competitive.
We will, however, understand it you head straight for an X1 instead, though.