When BMW introduced the 2 Series Active Tourer at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2014, shouts of indignation erupted in the showrooms. Excuse me, a family car? A BMW with front wheel drive? Yes, are you still ok? But the manufacturer saw no other way, as then-chain manager Frank Neederlander explained: “If you want to showcase the interior volume and versatility the market demands with such a model, you can only do that with a front-wheel drive and transverse engine.” But as is often the case when a manufacturer breaks his own traditions, indignation was just a flash in the pan. “When we introduced my Touring or X, the outrage was great too,” said Niederländer. “Today, no one has asked for a long time whether these station wagons or SUVs fit BMW.”
This was also the case with the Active Tourer, and the change in doctrine finally paid off: seven years after its introduction and more than 420,000 units sold later, the model is an integral part of BMW’s product portfolio. The series now continues in a completely newly developed second generation – only the unsuccessful long-running Gran Tourer remains on track. Nothing has changed in the basic concept, the Active Tourer remains a compact family truck with front-wheel drive and a transverse engine. On the other hand, the details have been fine-tuned to the best of their ability.
Almost an SUV
Even at first glance you can see the huge leap made by the new generation of models. The truck exudes self-confidence, with bigger wheels and a wider track that feels like an SUV. It has grown in all dimensions, 32 mm in length, 24 in width and 21 in height. The concise LED signature on the front and back creates a modern look. In addition, he now also wears a massive mesh grille – BMW describes it as “very present”, and you can also describe it as “absolutely oversized”. But perhaps the people of Munich will be right later on this point.
Inside, the new car has nothing in common with its predecessor. The cockpit of the iX’s large electric SUV comes with a wide curved screen and rather cumbersome operation of the infotainment system via a touch screen – a pity, because with the installed iDrive system with a rotary control button, the Bavarians put the crossbar for a long time at ease. use time. Noble materials, high-quality workmanship, and airy space make the model look larger than it is.
Under the hood, too, an overhaul was carried out: 90 percent of the engine components are new or at least improved. The range includes two 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engines with 100 kW (136 hp, 218i) or 125 kW (170 hp, 220i) and a two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with 1160 kW (218 hp) in the 223i. The latter two are powered by a 48-volt mild-hybrid system with a 14 kW electric motor integrated into the transmission. All types of engines are equipped as standard with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with all-electric start. The only auto-igniter on the price list is the 218D with a two-liter four-cylinder turbo diesel engine of 110 kW (150 hp), but this version is unlikely to attract much interest in Switzerland.
This is how plug-in hybrid makes sense
Two plug-in hybrid variants will be more popular. It combines a three-cylinder 1.5-liter gasoline engine on the front axle and an electric motor that drives the rear axle, thus creating a hybrid all-wheel drive system. The high-voltage flat battery with a net capacity of 14.9 kW is placed in the floor of the vehicle, which lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity and thus significantly improves handling; In addition, the battery does not affect the volume of the luggage compartment. In pure electric mode, plug-in hybrid cars can travel up to 90 kilometers – the absolute highest value in the compact class. It is charged at a maximum of 7.4 kW, and a full charge takes about 2.5 hours.
In a first test drive with the 220i, 223i and 230e xDrive (pre-series model), the new 2 Series Active Tourer showed that it not only looks like a BMW, but also drives like a BMW. The compact truck moves nicely neatly through corners, rolls gracefully and feels mature and complete. Not only does the plug-in hybrid take down steep slopes with great force, but it also stands out on rugged terrain thanks to its all-wheel drive system and low center of gravity. Based on the track profile, driving style and traffic ahead, the hybrid system can independently decide whether the vehicle should veer with little resistance or how much braking during the recovery period. This works great and is not only comfortable but also effective. Together with the long electric range, one can say with a good conscience: this is how plug-in hybrids actually make sense. The new 2 Series Active Tourer will be available in stores in the next few days with prices starting at CHF42,400, with additional hybrid variants coming in the summer.