The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder

Geneva show: BMW reveals 2-series Active Tourer ‒ with front-wheel drive

Two is the only one


WHISPER IT but almost 100 years since it was founded, BMW has launched a model that breaks with company tradition by having its front wheels, rather than its rears, driven by the engine.

Fittingly, the new radical in its ranks is not a sports car but a compact people carrier called the 2-series Active Tourer. Fittingly, because front-wheel drive provides safe and predictable handling, rather than the kind of full-throttle, tail-out antics associated with rear-drive cars.

However, the car maker is keen to stress the new model, which is around the same size as a Mercedes B-class, is no dull but worthy people shifter. Just so there’s no doubt, the new car has a low-slung, sporty appearance with a steeply angle bonnet and sculpted sides.

In addition, BMW says the new car’s “state-of-the-art” front wheel-drive system balances comfort and agility in a way rarely experienced before. The car’s rear axle is the company’s tried-and-tested multi-link system that contributes so much to the sporty driving characteristics of BMWs in general.

Meanwhile, in another first for BMW, the Active Tourer is powered by a three-cylinder petrol engine: a 1.5-litre turbocharged unit producing 134bhp and 162 lb ft torque. It sees service in the 218i, while a new 2-litre, four-cylinder diesel producing 148bhp and returning 68.9mpg powers the 218d. A more powerful 225i with a 2-litre turbocharged petrol engine will follow later this year.

BMW claims that thanks to its large glass area, the model’s five-seat cabin is light and airy. It also claims “luxury class” legroom, especially in the rear thanks to a sliding rear seat, and a wealth of practical features including a flat-floored boot whose capacity can be increased from 468 to 1,510 litres. The tailgate can be opened by waggling a foot under the vehicle.

In addition to the entry-level models there will be Sport, Luxury and M Sport variants. The 2-series Active Tourer goes on sale in September at prices yet to be confirmed but, promises BMW, starting from less than £23,000.