BAVARIA'S ACTIVE FRONT (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Introductionword count: 53
BMW reached into the mainstream with this 2 Series Active Tourer, a reasonably spacious and quite affordable family five-seat MPV. MINI underpinnings saw this as the brand's first front driven model and it's certainly a classier, more interesting alternative to a conventional Scenic-style compact MPV. Does it add up as a used buy?
Modelsword count: 12
Models Covered: Mid-Sized MPV 5dr (1.5, 2.0 petrol / 1.5, 2.0 diesel)
Historyword count: 304
Front wheel drive and BMW. It's not often you see those words in the same sentence. Equally unusual is the idea of any kind of BMW MPV. We're here though, to examine the used car market credentials of a car that brings all of these things together, the Munich maker's 2 Series Active Tourer. It's precisely because this car was so different from anything BMW had done before that it was so perfectly pitched for the conquest sales the brand was seeking when it launched this model back in 2014. Sure enough, over 70% of Active Tourer buyers were people new to the Bavarian marque. Many of them too, were also new to the five-seat Scenic and C-MAX-style compact MPV sector this car supposedly competes in. That segment had previously never before been offered a car that was in any way aspirational. This model's closest market rival, the Mercedes B-Class, is the nearest thing we had previously had to something of that kind in this segment, but that car wasn't especially dynamic, either in the way it looked or the way it drove. To be frank, it was aimed at a more mature audience. What the market needed was the same sort of thing but with sharper looks and handling. Maybe even a bit of cleverer packaging too. That's what BMW tried to deliver here. And tried to achieve for the first time without its traditional unique selling point when it comes to driving dynamics: rear wheel drive. The Bavarians once said they'd never abandon that, but the space-efficient front-driven platform and engine package developed for the third generation new MINI proved too tempting a proposition not to install in something bearing the BMW badge. This car sold until 2018 when it was lightly facelifted. It's the original pre-facelift models we look at here.
What You Getword count: 1154
Cover up the badges and you wouldn't necessarily guess this to be a BMW, but begin to examine the details and the Bavarian influences begin to shine through. The short overhangs and long wheelbase, the wedgy profile, the L-shaped rear lights, the crisp contours and the smart swage lines all point to this Munich maker. It also seems sportier than you might expect a car of this kind to be, courtesy of things like the steeply raked windscreen and the way that the distinctive double kidney grille is positioned lower than the headlights. Only at the rear does practicality assume priority, though even here, there are hi-tech touches. Examples include the vertical air-deflecting blades that sit on either side of the tailgate glass. And the way the rear wiper is neatly hidden in the rear spoiler. It's attention to detail of this sort that explains this BMW's impressively sleek 0.26Cd drag factor. Plenty then, to disguise the sensible virtues that a car of this kind should have. But could this Active Tourer model really cut the mustard in the muddy dog, smelly gym kit and family holiday-friendly world of the mini-MPV. Could you really live with one? Lift the standard electrically-operated tailgate and first impressions are encouraging. There's a low sill, a wide aperture and a decently sized boot offering 468-litres, which in BMW terms is about 30% larger than a five-door 1 Series, about 10% larger than an X1 and only a touch smaller than a much bigger 3 Series Touring model. You'll also want to compare in terms of the wider market though and here, you're talking of a space that's close to what you'd get in a Mercedes B-Class - or indeed a conventional Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra estate. But slightly further removed from the total capacity served up by the kind of more practically-orientated compact MPV a buyer of this car might consider - something like a Volkswagen Golf SV. Forget the comparisons though. What matters is that this luggage bay is big enough to be everyday-usable. So bulky items like baby buggies that you might struggle to get into some of BMW's other compact five-door family cars - say something like a 1 Series - will here fit in quite easily. There are lashing points and bag hooks on either side of the luggage bay, plus an optional 'extended storage' pack offers attachments like a load net to help keep things in place should you get a bit carried away on the journey back from the supermarket. Valuables are better housed in this concealed space below the floor, the folding top concealing a handy multi-function tray. If you need more room, then your first option is to take advantage of the sliding/reclining rear bench functionality and either push the back seat forward or angle it into a more upright position. If that's not enough, then the split-folding backrest divides 40:20:40, so the middle part can be flattened if, for example, you want to transport something long like a set of skis in between a couple of rear seat folk. If you really need to super-size your space, then the rear bench drops electronically at the touch of a button to create a completely flat 1,510-litre cargo area that can be even further extended if you've opted for the extra cost fold-flat front passenger seat. With this in place, your Active Tourer could swallow items up to 2.4m long. Switch your focus from packages to people and, by and large, the news is equally good, with decent space for three fully-sized adults, even on longer trips - though the unfortunate middle occupant will need to sit with legs astride the kind of raised transmission tunnel you'd think you wouldn't need on a front-driven car. Certainly, the tightly drawn roof line and high sides can make the cabin feel a little enclosed but the large glass area compensates with an airy feel you can add to with an optional opening panoramic glass roof. As for the seats, well they're not of the removable kind - the sort of thing you'd get on mainstream MPV rivals like Renault's Scenic and Citroen's C4 Picasso. But then we don't think many potential Active Tourer buyers will be cross-shopping against cars of that kind. In any case, as mentioned earlier, this rear bench does slide (in a 60:40 split) and when in its rearmost position, offers impressively generous standards of legroom. This is further aided by the fact there's plenty of room beneath the front seats, so even the largest pair of shoes will be able to slide under. We also mentioned the backrest's reclining function too, which gives greater comfort on longer journeys. Arguably though, we've left the best bit until last. We're guessing that it's the upfront experience that'll really sell people this car. Light, spacious and beautifully appointed, it's a level of quality removed from any other compact MPV we've ever sat in. It's based around an imposing layered dashboard that on plusher models curves into the cabin in a symmetrical wave garnished with leather, wood and bright work. The only slight issue with the layered moulding is that some taller front seat passengers may find their knees knocking against the lower section of the dash. There's also a minor issue in the way that the gearstick slightly obscures the climate controls. As usual in the brand's modern models, the iDrive infotainment set-up's freestanding multifunction colour screen takes pride of place in the middle of the fascia, though the display is not of the current trendy touchscreen variety, controlled instead by this circular rotary dial down by the gearstick. Still, if there's a better, more intuitive system of this sort currently on the market, then we've not tried it. In terms of the driving position, well it's almost SUV-like. We mentioned earlier that you're sat higher than you would be in the brand's X1 Crossover model - a full 30mm higher to be exact, which means that the view out is commandingly MPV-like and makes this a fine urban runabout. Or at least it would be if the large pillars either side of the windscreen didn't slightly restrict your visibility at junctions. There are chunky pillars at the rear too, so it's just as well that BMW fits rear parking sensors as standard. These are issues that you quickly adjust to though and it's certainly easy to get an ideal driving position, thanks to plenty of rake and reach adjustment from a smart leather-trimmed steering wheel through which you view the usual crystal clear set of BMW dials. The cabin's practical too - as that of any MPV should be. So there are decently-sized door bins and cleverly staggered cup holders in the centre console. You also get a large space under the armrest that can be used to charge your 'phone. And a neat hidden compartment in the centre stack.
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Category: MPV People Carriers
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