BMW has revealed the new 2 Series Active Tourer, which has been completely redesigned from the ground up and boasts the latest on-board technology.
When it was introduced back in 2014, the model faced much ridicule on social media for its uninspiring MPV shape and front-wheel-drive architecture.
But at an exclusive preview of the new car last month, we were told that it was those characteristics that had made it such a valuable model – with a small number of MPVs on sale and the Active Tourer sharing few characteristics with other BMWs, it proved an enticing gateway to the brand for many families.
This made it one of the highest conquest models in the firm’s line-up, which means it helped ‘steal’ customers from other brands.
With this in mind, BMW has put a lot of work into the next generation model, giving it a new look and tonnes of technology – it’s the first model to sit on a new platform that will be joined by the X1 and X2 later, in fact. Here’s what we learned at an exclusive preview in a small design studio just outside Munich last month.
How does it look?
Let’s start with the obvious – the ‘minivan’ styling drew some criticism on the previous generation, but it has been overhauled for the new car. Product manager Markus Haberer explained that because the 2 Series Active Tourer proved such a successful conquest model, its design was moved to more of a crossover/SUV to further capitalise on this.
It’s not BMW’s most handsome car, but it’s much more stylish than its predecessor, and looks better in person than it does in the photos. Some notable design features include the traditional BMW front grille, which has a radar sensor for the optional driver assistance technology integrated into it for a cleaner look, as well as narrow LED headlights.
Its best angle is at the rear, where there are slim taillights and a chunky lower bumper that give the Active Tourer a more SUV-like appearance.
What’s this new technology you mentioned?
BMW has long been praised for having one of the best infotainment systems out there with iDrive. And the Active Tourer will be the first compact car to get the eighth-generation version, following on from the i4 and iX electric vehicles.
There’s one important difference here though: no rotary controller. This is a huge deal for BMW fans as the dial that sits in the centre console and controls everything on the infotainment screen is fantastic in an age where most companies force you to use touchscreens.
Touchscreens are great on phones and tablets, but they’re awkward in cars as you’re jiggling about on the road surface and have to look more intently at where you’re pressing – not ideal when you’re driving.
For what it’s worth, BMW has addressed this with a simple ledge to rest your hand on that makes touching the screen easier, and the menus are intuitive to navigate and lightning quick to respond. The climate settings are always ‘on top’, too, so changing the temperature is easy.
The real story for BMW, though, is its voice technology. The Intelligent Personal Assistant has ‘gained new skills’ and should be more intuitive to use. It can operate basic functions such as the windows, panoramic roof, or climate control, while also learning routines. One example BMW gives is that the car can ask if you want the window to automatically roll down as you approach work to scan an ID badge.
What’s it like inside?
We had the chance to sit behind the wheel of the new Active Tourer and it’s fair to say the interior has levelled up. It gets the new curved display seen in the latest ‘i’ electric models, which looks fantastic and has a very high quality appearance. Apple CarPlay users will be pleased to hear it can expand to the full width of the screen, too, rather than leaving unused real estate as in some other models.
The driving position feels spot on with plenty of steering wheel and driver’s seat adjustment, while losing the iDrive rotary frees up a large new storage space beneath the centre armrest. There’s more space in the cabin, with rear passengers in particular getting noticeably more knee room.
Does it have an electrified powertrain?
Although not available at launch, two plug-in hybrid versions will go on sale in summer 2022. These powertrains, which provide all-wheel-drive through a petrol engine up front and electric motor at the rear, have been improved for the new model. For example, the electric-only range has increased to about 50 miles and the battery pack has been moved from under the rear seats to improve cabin space.
The more powerful version is badged 230e and gets 321bhp, with the alternative being the 242bhp 225e.
Are there regular petrol and diesel options?
At launch there will be two petrol engines available, badged 220i and 223i. The first is a 1.5-litre unit with mild-hybrid assistance that has 168bhp and 280Nm of torque, while the second has 215bhp and 360Nm.
The diesel is a 2.0-litre unit that makes 148bhp and 360Nm of torque. It has received extensive development that sees it capable of up to 58.9mpg.
Anything else I need to know?
There are a few things to note from our time with the car. The seats-up boot space ranges between 406 litres for the plug-in hybrid to 417 for the regular engines. The standard load area is the same between each model, though, with the extra space coming from under-floor storage.
It has hidden exhaust pipes that can’t be seen from the rear, which is actually a refreshing change from the ‘fake’ pipes often integrated into car bumpers. It’s only offered with an automatic transmission too.
There will be no seven-seat version because demand is low and it borrows a lot of driver assistance technology from the iX SUV. It has artificial leather upholstery, and finally, it can receive over-the-air updates to improve areas such as driver assistance as technology advances.
How much does it cost?
Deliveries of the new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer will begin in March 2022. Prices will start at £30,265 for the 220i, £31,820 for the 218d and £32,715 for the 223i.