If you are an avid BMW fan you may want to look away now.
If you are an avid BMW fan you may want to look away now. This is not going to be a post about performance and the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer doesn’t really look very ‘BMW’. But, if you are ok with change and willing to put your petrol-head personality away, you will want to read about this new and impressive people carrier.
This is BMW’s first front-wheel drive vehicle. Not that it really makes a difference to many people, in fact, back in 2010, analysts revealed from BMW’s 2009 financial results, that 80% of 1-Series owners believed they were driving a front-wheel drive car. Nonetheless, this is a first for BMW, so worth mentioning.
The 2-Series Active Tourer is a tall minivan really. It shares its platform with the Mini 5-door. It is 1.55m tall, 4.34m long, and 1,8m wide to give you exact measurements. When looking at it, you wouldn’t instantly call it a BMW. The kidney grill however is the BMW giveaway. However, step inside and you are met with your much-loved BMW interior. Everything directed towards the driver. The interior is sophisticated and modern, and of course practical.
I only had one or two gripes, the first being that of the head-up display. It is not displayed on the windshield but rather on a retractable transparent screen above the steering column. It was distracting for me, whereas my driving partner had no issue with it. Thankfully it can, like I mentioned, be retracted. I think it would have been far better with the traditional windshield version. My only other (tiny) issue was my seating position. My optimal position meant that the steering wheel blocked the screen in the instrument binnacle. I needed to raise or drop the steering wheel which didn’t make for the most comfortable driving position.
Back to the positives, an awesome feature that stands out for me and which is standard across the range is Intelligent Emergency calling. If you are in an accident the BMW call centre is automatically contacted and sent information such as your location, severity of the accident and status of the front airbags and seat belts. If you see an accident or find yourself in an emergency situation you can manually press the SOS button and the call centre is notified. This is just ideal for us South Africans don’t you think (think N2 driving).
Seven models make up the range for South Africa with the entry level 218i coming in at R378 000 for the 6-speed manual. The top of the range 225i which comes standard with an 8-speed automatic transmission costs R447 300. To add some of the optional extras you will more than likely want, you will easily add another 100k to the price tag.
BMW is not entirely sure as to who this car is going to appeal to. BMW’s Edward Makwana says the potential buyer is someone who has an active lifestyle and wants a higher seating position and more space. It is not age-specific and it looks as if BMW is waiting for the car to determine who its target market will be. If I were a mom having to cart a few kids around, this would most certainly be one of my first choices. It is comfortable, smooth (albeit a lot of road noise) and the 225i is just a wonderful drive. Steering is direct, very direct! It is the sort of car that you want for around town but would be equally happy to head out on to the open road, kids in tow.
With the Mercedes-Benz B Class being its main competitor, I think BMW has the upper hand here.