First Drive Review: 2015 BMW 2-Series Active Tourer 225i +VIDEO
By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
THE AUTO CHANNEL
• SEE ALSO: BMW Buyers Guide
SÖLDEN, Austria - July 17, 2014: BMW enthusiasts from all over the world were shocked when their beloved brand announced that its future would include front-wheel drive. Our first test drive with the first of such models, the 2 Series Active Tourer, should show whether the engineers succeeded in developing a dynamic handling and practical mpv.
In order to continue to grow, BMW decided to enter the so-called premium part of the segment of compact MPVs and crossovers - everybody in the company knew that it would be essential to develop a front-wheel-dive architecture. It is the only way to offer a roomy cabin and limit the height of the car. The challenge for BMW, however, was to combine it with dynamic handling.
The Active Tourer Concept, the first BMW with front-wheel-drive, made its world premiere at the Geneva Auto Show in March. The prototype revealed most of what could be expected of the production model that is now ready for its market introduction. Dubbing the new model a 2 Series is confusing, since the Active Tourer has nothing to do with a ‘2 .‘ The new architecture debuted with the new Mini Cooper and has been adjusted to accommodate the larger Active Tourer, as well as the new Mini Countryman and other upcoming new models in the compact segment.
The Active Tourer has another first for the BMW brand: the availability of the new 3-cyinder engine, which also debuted in the new Mini and will be available in the 218i. The 1.5-liter turbo engine produces 100 kW/136 hp and 220 Nm/162 lb-ft of torque. This base model was not available for our first test drives that took us up in the Tyrolean Mountains.
Because we are already familiar with this engine from our drives with the new Mini, I drove the 225i with the new, direct injected 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo engine that has 170 kW/231 hp and 350 Nm/258 lb-ft of torque. It was more than enough for an active drive up through the Alps to the event hotel in Sölden, the winter sport resort in Tirol. The engine is well suited to deal with the 3,300 pounds heavy car. The especially developed 8-speed Steptronic transmission shifts hardly noticeably and at the right moments. It is especially adapted to deal with the front-wheel-drive and the east-west positioned engine. This drive line is good for an acceleration from zero to 62 mph in 6.6 seconds. Especially on the mountain roads, where slower driving tourists and cyclists are plentiful, it offers peace of mind to know that you can quickly pass them.
Like the other BMWs, the 2 Series AT also lets you chose between Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport modes. In Comfort, the electromechanical power steering is direct and I could go through hair pins in the mountain roads precisely. In Sport, the steering input offers more feed back, exactly is you would like to have it when you are up for a dynamic drive. Also throttle input is different and the engine runs at 800 higher revs.
Did I feel I was missing rear-wheel-drive in this BMW? No, not really. Although, admittedly, driving the Active Tourer asks for a different mind set than driving a BMW sedan or coupe. This model is meant for customers who want a car that offers a comfortable drive and a premium environment. They want a higher seating position and lots of room for rear passengers, luggage, or sports gear. And that is exactly what you get in the 2 Series AT, thanks to the new front-wheel-drive set up., which allows the use of a flat floor.
Typically, I usually sit quite low in the Active Tourer, but in this version I had to raise my seat in order not to feel like a dwarf. There is so much head room that you don't have the feeling that you're sitting higher. Also in the rear, the head and leg room is amazing! Photographer Tom Kirkpatrick, who is 2,04 meters tall (6', 7"), showed that he can sit comfortably in the back. The 40:20:40: rear seat not only split folds, it can also be moved up forward by a an additional 130 mm/5.1 inches. Even in the most forward position, I had some 5 inches extra knee room.
A folding front passenger back rest is an option, allowing you to take long objects up to 2.40 meters long (94 inches). The luggage compartment can be ‘stretched’ from 468 to 1,510 liter, and it has a practical folding truck floor with a storage compartment underneath.
Needless to say, the 2 Series AT is equipped with premium features, such as the automatically opening and closing tailgate (controlled by a push button of by moving your foot beneath the rear bumper).
The cabin is not only roomy by its measurements, the interior design with the flowing dashboard and narrower than usual center console enhances the feeling of sitting in a space wagon.
Instead of offering a base model with added packages, BMW will have the Active Tourer available as a standard model and four other variants. Standard, the car gets Bluetooth for hands free phone calls, the iDrive control on the center console, and a 6.5-inch display. Among the other standard features are automatic headlight activations, a rain sensor, Collision Warning with City Braking function and the Intelligent Emergency Call system.
Did I miss something in the new BMW? Yes, first of all, it would be nice to have some gizmo to secure my hand bag, like a small hook at the right hand side of the center console. Secondly, one or two straps to tie a weekend bag, carry-on or other small things to the hooks in the luggage compartment would have been nice. A premium brand like BMW should simply have this as standard. And last but not least, there could have been one or two connections for a USB stick. There is only one in the small storage under the arm rest in the center console. Nowadays passengers are also using - and charging – their mobile devices. In the 2 Active Tourer they would need an adapter for the 12V outlets.
The name Active Tourer indeed covers the load. The new BMW is well set up for a dynamic drive or for comfortable touring while offering enough space to take five people and their (active) gear.
BMW has high expectations to attract customers who are new to the brand, especially in Europe and China. This is why the 2 Series AT will arrive at dealerships in those markets on September 27th. The German prices start at 27,200 euro.
Japan , Australia and Mexico will get the Active Tourer in November, while it will reach other Asian markets by the end of this year. By that time, the all-wheel-drive will also be available.
Officially, the BMW Board has not yet decided if the new BMW will be introduced on the North-American market. However, my guess is that after the introduction of the xDrive AWD-models in December, the 7-seater model of the Active Tourer will celebrate its world premiere; perhaps in Detroit, but more likely in Geneva. I believe that is the 2 Series Active Tourer model will make it to the North American market by the middle of 2015.
Please stay tuned!
Watch the original introduction of the Active Tourer Concept at the 2012 Paris Motor Show