Vehicle style: Tall-stance medium hatch
Engine/trans: 100kW/220Nm; 1.5 3cyl turbo petrol | 6spd auto
Fuel consumption claimed: 5.2 l/100km.
It has, however, happened. The culprit is the 2 Series Active Tourer: a tall, SUV-looking medium hatch that arrives with a choice of two turbo-charged petrol engines (the 218i and 225i) and a 2.0 litre 218d turbo-diesel version.
A fourth model, the 220i, arrives in January.
For this review, the entry-level 218i model, expected to be the biggest seller, was the chosen variant.
The new BMW Active Tourer really has only one direct rival: the similarly upright Mercedes-Benz B-class.
That said, BMW has high hopes that as well as B-class buyers, it will win buyers over from small and medium SUVs and MPVs.
Quality: There’s no denying that the new BMW offering has a classy, high-quality interior.
Fit and finish are faultless and the blend of synthetic black leather upholstery, red stitching, black high-gloss trim and pearl chrome highlights all add to the interior ambience and sense of style.
Comfort: The front sports bucket seats have plenty of hip-and-thigh bolstering and adjustability and there is enough outer bolstering for the rear bench seat (with a handy 60/40 split base) to add to the comfort there.
However, despite being a front-wheel-driver, the new Active Tourer has a large centre tunnel that severely limits legroom for the centre rear-seat passenger.
That said, rear-seat passengers have plenty of headroom, and, even with the front seats right back, knee and foot-room in the rear is pretty reasonable.
Fresh air is also on tap in the rear courtesy of a set of vents.
Equipment: This is one area where the new Beemer really shines. Features include automatic lights and wipers, an electric tailgate, electric windows and external mirrors, cruise control, park-distance control, satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone/audio connectivity, electrically folding rear seatbacks, 17-inch alloy wheels and dual-zone climate-control air-con.
The 100W audio system comes with six speakers and has an MP3-compatible CD drive. The car’s iDrive tells you what it’s doing via a 6.5-inch screen.
There is also a comprehensive options list but things such as the panoramic sunroof ($1538 without GST and LCT), metallic paint ($1038) and BMW’s Driving Assistant Plus package ($699) add significantly to the cheque buyers will have to hand over.
Storage: There are four generous door-pockets, a deep glovebox and map-pockets mounted behind the front-seat backrests.
There’s also a small shallow bin beneath the front-seat centre armrest and a small open tray mid-way down the centre stack.
There are four cupholders - two in the front and two in the back - and a shallow lidded tray housed in the drop-down rear-seat centre armrest.
Unfortunately, there is no roof-mounted sunglasses holder for the front seats.
In the cargo department, with the rear seats occupied there’s 468 litres of space and this includes a handy, secure 100 litre under-floor cubby hole.
Drop the 40/20/40-split rear-seat backs and this rises to a small-delivery-van-like 1510 litres.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Given that the new Active Tourer wears a BMW badge, it is not surprising that the 218i has firm, bordering on sporty, suspension.
With plenty of steering-wheel and seat adjustment, there is no trouble quickly and easily dialling-in the perfect behind-the-wheel position.
The six-speed automatic transmission is a slick-shifting affair and the standard steering-wheel-mounted paddles add to the driving pleasure.
It is no road rocket, but the 218i is certainly brisk enough. Like all BMWs (and this one’s Mini cousins), it feels livelier than its raw numbers would suggest.
Refinement: As you would expect from any car that sports a BMW badge, the 218i Active Tourer is a pretty refined little chariot.
There is however, a somewhat intrusive level of tyre noise on some surfaces; but it’s not too serious.
Like other three-cylinder engines, such as those offered by Ford and Suzuki, the 218i emits a throaty burble that is cute rather than offensive.
Ride and handling: Because the Active Tourer rides on the BMW group’s so-called UKL platform that it shares with the Mini, the new Beemer’s steering and handling is pin-sharp, precise and predictable; so much so that you quickly forget it’s a front-wheel-driver.
That said, it’s not quite in the same class as rear-wheel-drive BMWs such as the 1 Series and 3 Series.
While a few of my motoring colleagues on the national media launch in Tasmania thought the suspension set-up was a bit harsh, I disagree.
In fact, I suspect that most BMW buyers would be disappointed with underpinnings that were soft and over-comfortable.
Braking: There are ABS-supported discs all round. Like all BMWs, this one effortlessly pulls up straight and true.
While the Active Tourer has not yet been tested by ANCAP, it has been awarded a 5-Star EuroNCAP rating.
Safety features: There are six airbags (front, front-side and full-length curtain), ABS brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, anti-collision and lane-departure warning and pedestrian warning. Also standard is a rear-vision camera and a clever intelligent emergency-call that ensures rapid response to an accident.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years and unlimited kilometres but optional packages are available, starting from five years/80,000km.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
As we said, the new Active Tourer’s only real direct competitor is the Benz B-class and in the case of the 218i we tested, it goes up against the $40,900 B180.
While the Benz is cheaper, it has slightly less power and torque (90kW/200Nm) versus 100kW/220Nm) and it certainly doesn’t have anything like the standard fruit that’s found in the Beemer. It is also thirstier than the 218i.
Note: All prices are Manufacturers’ List Price and do not include dealer-delivery and on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
BMW’s move into front-wheel-drive may surprise some, but it was bound to happen.
What has made it easier for the great German brand is the experience it has gained since it acquired MINI and the availability of that car’s beautifully-sorted UKL platform.
As an around-town family chariot, the 218i Active Tourer ticks plenty of boxes.
Important measurements such as fuel economy, interior flexibility and practicality and standard features are all top-notch.
When you can then chuck in the cachet of the BMW badge, you can understand why BMW has high hopes for this car. The Active Tourer, soon to have four engine options on offer, certainly has what it takes.
We at The Motor Report will be watching its progress with great interest.
MORE: BMW news and reviews
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
2014 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer
- 218i - $44,400
- 218d - $47,800
- 225i - $54,900