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School-run fun with the BMW Active 2 Series Tourer

08.05.2015

FOR a brand whose tag-line is the ultimate driving machine, there’s been much interest around the brand’s first ever front-wheel-drive model, the Active 2 Series Tourer. Can this new, controversial model continue to uphold the driving legacy left by it rear-wheel-drive siblings? I spent some time with the Active 2 Series to find out whether it can.

Before you throw your hands in the air with both eyebrows raised and turn the page because you don’t think that a front-wheel-drive BMW will be any good, let me remind you about the fact that BMW builds and owns Mini. They have been building them for many years now and Minis don’t particularly feel like a lump of lard to drive, either.

Now that you’ve just one eyebrow raised, let me get back to the Active 2 Series. The Active 2 Series Tourer is basically an MPV based on an extended Mini chassis. The Active 2 Series is a slightly higher five-door hatchback with emphasis on practicality and being a BMW it’s in no doubt up for a little fun. It’s not called and ‘Active’ Tourer for nothing.

The front-end is unmistakably BMW, focused and poised on the road ahead. At the rear they once again did a good job. The Active 2 looks posh and it will definitely appeal to those looking to grab attention at soccer practice.

Step inside and you are greeted by plenty of gloss black finishes and metallic inserts. The interior quality is top notch, as is the way with BMW. There is the usual tablet-looking screen on the dash, controlled by the iDrive system toggle switch, surrounded by the usual array of buttons. The dashboard layout is different to that found in the 2 Series coupé and convertible models, which is a nice thing as it differentiates the Active 2 Series from these models even more.

The radio and climate control are split by a little storage space. It’s neat and uncluttered. I do prefer this layout to that of the 1 Series though. One other thing is the space inside. The higher roof line and bigger windows give the cabin an airy feel. Perfect for those long trips to visit Gran. Luggage space is also impressive, so if granny gets annoying she will fit (unwillingly) into the boot - with ease.

The elevated driving position and big windows offer a great view of the world around you. I drove the 218i, which is a 3cyl 100kW turbocharged motor. In sport mode it does feel like a pocket rocket if I’m honest. I highly doubt that drivers of this car will push the limits of front-wheel grip leading to under steer on the way to drop the kids off at school.  I felt the front to be very grippy.  Remember, it's based on a Mini and they are pretty good in the corners.

So does the Active 2 Series continue to offer that iconic BMW driving pleasure? Yes it does, albeit in a different kind of way. The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer opens new doors for customers and for relatively the same amount of money as a top-spec 1 Series or entry level 3 Series, BMW is offering owners a bit more space, practicality and versatility. I reckon that buyers would forego class-leading dynamic handling and performance for ease of use, providing it looks right and the badge remains.

Article written by Justin Jacobs
08.05.2015
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