- Dynamic styling for a people mover and performance is impressive too
- New infotainment system and interior design
- Good range of trims and engines with plug-in hybrids on the horizon
- The ride is quite firm on the M Sport model as tested
- Optional extras are pricey
- It is now the only BMW MPV with the Gran Tourer being ditched
When BMW launched its multi-purpose vehicle – the 2 Series Active Tourer – back in 2014, nobody could have predicted just how popular and successful it would go on to be. It was the company’s first front-wheel drive model and it went on to sell more than 430,000 units. But, perhaps most importantly, 80 per cent of sales were to customers new to the BMW brand.
With an eye on the future, the new 2 Series Active Tourer sees an all-new architecture that has been designed to accommodate both electrified drive systems and conventional engines.
There are trims levels called Sport, Luxury and M Sport, along with a range of personalisation packs and the latest model marks the debut of the BMW Operating System 8 infotainment system.
On The Road
Customers can choose between two petrol engines and one diesel with the second-generation of 48V mild hybrid technology. And the range is set to expand from this summer to include two plug-in hybrid models.
We opted for the 223i M Sport Active Tourer featuring a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, mild-hybrid, petrol engine developing 218hp and 360Nm of torque. It sprints from 0-62mph in 7.0 seconds and tops out at 150mph.
It features a new version of the seven-speed Steptronic dual clutch transmission which is smooth and responsive with perfectly timed gear switches. And, of course, there are paddles if you fancy taking a little extra control.
The acceleration out the starting blocks impresses for a family car and there is a constant stream of power on tap to make light work of overtaking.
The new mild hybrid technology results in improved driving dynamics along with better efficiency. The 48V electric motor acts as a starter generator and power booster for the engine and is integrated into the automatic transmission. It also delivers an extra 19hp when pulling away or during mid-range acceleration.
Meanwhile, the 48v battery, located beneath the boot, is charged during braking and overrun, where energy that would usually be lost is recouped.
It’s a car that cruises at 70mph on motorways, but is also well composed on twisting B roads. The grip is confident, but attack a bend too eagerly and there may be a little body sway.
With fairly light steering, the 2 series is deceptively agile for its size. This is perfect for busy town centre driving with lots of weaving in and out of traffic.
Drive modes called Personal, Sport and Efficient change the mannerisms of the vehicle with Sport certainly livening up the handling.
The chassis of the new 2 Series Active Tourer has been engineered to deliver both driving pleasure and comfort. Adaptive M suspension with mechanically controlled adjustable dampers is standard on the M Sport car that we tested and this introduces a 15mm reduction in the vehicle’s ride height, along with M Sport steering offering improved feedback. This set-up means the car is well controlled in and out of bends and most of the uneven road surfaces are smoothed out along the way too.
Possibly the biggest surprise is how enjoyable the 2 Series Active Tourer is to drive. Remember this a practically-designed family car, so dynamics are often overlooked. That’s not the case here though with the 223i delivering an attitude I wasn’t quite expecting.
In Efficient mode everything is very grown up and refined with barely a sound filtering through into the cabin and all occupants treated to excellent levels of comfort.
Switch across to Sport and it’s a whole new beast. It’s sharper, edgier and there are quick-shift gear changes for more responsive acceleration and a raspy engine note to match.
And it’s those split personalities that make this car so appealing. Yes, it’s practical and you can drop the kids at school, but then you can get on with your day-to-day chores with a little more zip when needed.
There’s no denying the fact that the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer has plenty of road presence. It features the large trademark kidney grille, the addition of full LED headlights as standard (adaptive LED headlights on the M Sport version) and tinted windows.
And the sportier version also gains the M Sport package of design cues, including a distinctive front apron design, 19-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels, folding exterior mirrors, along with a panoramic sunroof that was an optional extra on the test car costing £1,000.
Moving inside, you are greeted with a thoroughly modern cabin that oozes charm. There are Alcantara/Sensatec Black seats with blue contrast stitching, a heated steering wheel, heated seats, soft touch surfaces and the finest materials throughout.
Once again there are M Sport specific design cues with an M leather steering wheel, anthracite M headliner, M pedals and an M logo in the information display.
The latest 2 Series Active Tourer takes much of its inspiration inside the cabin from the new iX and i4 fully electric models. There is the new BMW Operating System 8 infotainment set-up along with BMW iDrive control system with curved display screens that look both modern and premium in their design.
It would be an accurate assessment to say that the interior of the latest BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is one of the finest out there today.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
Drivers of all shapes and sizes will be able to quickly find a comfortable driving position inside the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer with powered front seats and plenty of adjustment to the steering wheel.
The new-look cabin layout is stunning with the fully digital BMW Curved Display offering state-of-the-art graphics. There is a 10.25-inch information display and a control display measuring 10.7 inches. These screens are housed together behind a glass surface that curves towards the driver making one fully digital, high-resolution unit.
Owners can fully customise the screens similarly to a smartphone. But noticeable by its absence is the lack of the BMW iDrive rotary controller that we have become so familiar with, and there are far fewer buttons and switches too.
Instead, we get climate control that is adjusted via voice control or the touchscreen, and the voice activated ‘Hey BMW’ system that can be used to open windows, set navigation options, find radio stations and much, much more. There are more steering wheel buttons and, after a short while the absence of the rotary controller is soon forgotten. It’s all designed so there is less driver distraction and it works very well.
On-board tech is impressive with a pitch perfect Harmon Kardon sound system (£600 optional extra), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, sat nav with live traffic updates and BMW Maps to help find parking spaces.
Space & Practicality
The new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer has grown in stature. It’s 32mm longer, 24mm wider and 21mm taller, while the wheelbase remains unchanged at 2,670mm. And that all results in additional passenger space with back seat occupants gaining extra knee, elbow and head room.
Wide-opening rear doors offer easy access to child seats and the elevated seating position would also be ideal for anyone with any mobility issues.
The Active Tourer is a five seater and there is room for a couple of adults to sit comfortably in the rear, provided the front seats are not pushed back too far. Add a third and it gets a tad cosy. Alternatively, three youngsters would fit just fine.
The newly-developed seats offer improved comfort over longer journeys and Isofix child safety seat fasteners are integrated into the outer rear seats.
The boot, accessed via a powered tailgate, can swallow 415 litres of luggage, increasing to 1,405 litres with the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. This capacity is slightly larger on the diesel model and a little less on the upcoming plug-in hybrid versions.
In addition, the rear backrests can be angled and adjusted separately allowing for an extra 90 litres of space.
Elsewhere, there are plenty of handy storage compartments scattered throughout the cabin, including a deep glovebox, a long narrow central box beneath the front armrest, front and rear cup holders, door bins with a separate bottle holder compartment, large non-slip trays, a phone charging pad and seat back nets.
BMW is a premium brand, so its cars come with a premium price-tag. However, the 2 Series Active Tourer is competitively priced with the range starting from £30,265 for the 220i version, £31,820 for the 218d diesel model and rising to a starting price of £32,715 for the 223i, as tested.
With a number of optional packs and extra tech added to the mix, our test car ended up costing £41,490 which would take it into the Government’s premium car tax bracket, resulting in a bill for an extra £335 for the first five years. Stay beneath 40k and you avoid that charge.
However, owners should recoup some of that added expense thanks to relatively impressive day-to-day running costs. The official fuel efficiency figure under WLTP testing is 42.8-47.1mpg with carbon emissions of 143g/km.
This CO2 figure would result in a first year Vehicle Excise Duty charge of £220 dropping to the standard fee of £155 after 12 months.
It’s also worth noting that the car should have a high sell-on price too thanks to its BMW badging.
The test car sits in insurance group 29.
Quality & Reliability
For a premium carmaker, BMW always performs quite well when it comes to customer satisfaction surveys.
The interior on the 2 Series Active Tourer looks both upmarket and sturdy in its design and layout with well-constructed materials throughout. The latest infotainment system is all-new, so only time will tell how well it performs. But as far as first impressions go, it was intuitive, responsive and very easy to operate on the fly.
For added peace of mind the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer comes with a comprehensive three-year, unlimited mileage warranty.
The model is produced at the BMW Group Plant in Leipzig, Germany, with the engines built at BMW Hams Hall near Birmingham.
Safety & Security
Whichever trim level customers opt for, one thing is guaranteed – the 2 Series Active Tourer will be packed to bursting with safety systems and driver assistance aids as standard.
Features include automatic speed limit assist that keeps the car a safe distance from the vehicle in front while ensuring it stays within the speed limit. There is front collision warning with lane departure warning and the former is now able to react to oncoming traffic too.
Emergency lane assist, wrong-way warning, front-crossing traffic warning, exit warning which detects a vehicle or cyclist, reversing assistant with camera and the latest parking assistant are also available.
The new braking system is unique in the segment and delivers outstanding stopping power and reliable pedal feel.
To keep intruders away, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is protected by a top-quality alarm and immobiliser.
The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is a unique model that has sold beyond all expectations. It offers the versatility of an MPV but maintains the driving dynamics we expect from a BMW along the way. If plug-in hybrid technology is more appealing, those models should arrive by the summer.