Once upon a time the mention of BMW building a FWD BMW would be laughed off and thought as an impossibility. Fast forward to the present and with global warming, oil shortages, a growing population and an added desire to expand its product offerings, BMW needed to create a FWD people mover. Whether you thought they needed to or not.
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Why did they need to? Do people want to pay $50,000 for a badge, when they could buy a much larger 7 seat SUV from a Japanese manufacturer for the same money? Well the answer is yes to both. It will make BMW purists and enthusiasts angry to hear that, but purely and simply this car wasn’t made for them.
It was made for the young couple/family with a desire for a luxury European vehicle and the need to have plenty of cargo space to live too. It’s a totally new type of buyer that BMW is trying to attract and one that Mercedes-Benz and others have already gone after.
Even if these models aren’t flying off the shelves like the 2 Series Coupe or A Class hatch, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is the start of a revolution. It’s also a risk that BMW is willing to take, just like the BMW i brand and its i3 and i8 models. Hell, the 3 Series GT and 5 Series GT models fit into this category.
It isn’t hard to find a forum or group with brand enthusiasts sharing their dislike for this new direction. They say that the cars that BMW needs to be making, in their minds, are RWD, naturally aspirated, high revving cars like the E92 M3 and the E60 M5.
Don’t get me wrong, these are mind blowingly fantastic and true icons in their own right.
The unfortunate reality is that modern vehicles now have to be cleaner, more economical and safer than they’ve ever had to be. This means using smaller, turbocharged engines and designs that increases pedestrian safety. Another change is also shifting the drive of the wheels to the front of the car. This reduces weight, saves fuel plus adding space in the cabin for storage and passenger comfort.
It means that you won’t be able to enjoy huge amounts of oversteer or tackle a hill climb as aggressively, but it’s not about that.
Also, just like the BMW i8, a three-cylinder engine is being used to maximise efficiency and also to reduce to entry level price for buyers. Producing 100kW of power and 220Nm of torque, it definitely outperforms any other three-cylinder engines you’ll find on the market. Oh, and you’ll pay less rego for the 218i Active Tourer because of it.
The four-cylinder 225i Active Tourer is a little more traditional and pumps out 170kW of power and 350Nm of torque, and uses the awesome eight-speed automatic transmission BMW uses in other, much larger, models. Oh, and there’s also a diesel engine available in the 218d Active Tourer.
But if you’re still coming to terms with the FWD setup, and the characteristic performance compromises that come along with it like understeer, BMW says they’ve worked hard to make the driving dynamics and experience that makes it worthy of the BMW badge.
The mechanical trickery being used includes a specifically design chassis, single-joint sprung strut axle and a multi-link rear axle. Plus torque steer shouldn’t be a problem with BMW’s electromechanical steering engineered to specifically combat that issue.
So, is it really all that bad? Really? This is what BMW had to do, and whilst you might feel that this is everything that BMW shouldn’t be doing all you need to know is that E92 M3’s and E60 M5’s can be had for a bargain on the used car market.
If you’re new to the brand, don’t be discouraged by enthusiasts. There’s lots of change happening at BMW and the 2 Series Active Tourer is the start of that revolution. I know I’m looking forward to it.
BMW 2 Series Active Tourer pricing (excluding some on-road costs) and specs:
|BMW 2 SERIES ACTIVE TOURER|
|BMW 2 SERIES ACTIVE TOURER 218i||
|BMW 2 SERIES ACTIVE TOURER 218d||
|BMW 2 SERIES ACTIVE TOURER 225I||
|2 Series Active Tourer 218i & 218d||2 Series Active Tourer 225i|
|17 inch light alloy wheel
Air-conditioning climate control
Automatic anti dazzle interior mirror
eCall including Teleservices
|18 inch light alloy wheels
Features from 218i and 218d PLUS
Dynamic Damper Control
Luxury Line including leather upholstery and Sports Seats
Sport automatic transmission
Variable sport steering