Carzone drives the plug-in hybrid version of the luxury MPV...
Pros: Superb interior, great 3-cylinder engines, versatility
Cons: Opinion-dividing looks, premium pricing
BMW has been on a transformation of sorts in recent years, expanding its range to suit different lifestyles and tastes. This is the new 2 Series Active Tourer, and it’s not what you would typically expect from the German manufacturer. Built specifically for family buyers and based on a front wheel drive platform (a first for BMW), it enters the five-seater MPV segment competing with established sellers such as the Citroen C4 Picasso and Ford C-Max. The 2 Series Active Tourer is at the premium end of the market however and it carries a premium price tag as a result. Carzone recently spent time with it to see how it copes with Irish roads, can it take the segment by storm in 2017?
What is it like?
The 2 Series Active Tourer is the five seater option in BMW’s people carrier range, and the smaller brother to the seven-seat 2 Series Grand Tourer. Although its styling will divide opinion among BMW purists, as far as people carriers go, it’s definitely one of the best looking cars in the class. Up front, it adopts the marque’s trademark kidney grille and daytime running lights, while the high roofline and pronounced door lines lend it a rather sleek look. We must say it manages to retain BMW’s premium look very well.
The 2 Series Active Tourer's interior is highly impressive and easily the highlight. The layout is what you would expect from a 5 Series Saloon but with more headroom and space on offer to driver and passengers. The seating position is higher than most BMWs and the dashboard and associated controls are neatly presented, with an integrated screen and iDrive system centre stage. All of this makes the 2 Series Active Tourer feel like a step up from its rivals in terms of quality. An electric tailgate is standard on all models for a luxurious feel and it opens at the press of a button to reveal a 468 litre boot, which we felt could be larger.
The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is available with a host of different petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines to choose from, but we drove the newest and most-advanced model in the range, the 225xe plug-in hybrid. It features a three-cylinder twin-turbo 1.5-litre petrol engine matched to an 88hp electric motor, which makes for incredible performance and economy credentials. When both the engine and electric motor run in tandem, the 225xe produces the combined equivalent of 224hp and can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 6.7 seconds (hot hatch performance!). As we found out during our test, it returns excellent fuel economy too.
The 225xe is especially-suited to city-based driving and commuting as it can travel around 38 kilometres in ‘Auto eDrive’ electric mode, while recharging the battery through a quick charge point takes just over two hours. Switching over to ‘Max E’ mode allows it to travel up to 125km/h on electric power, although battery life is shortened as a result. Lastly, the ‘Save Battery’ mode recycles power from braking and reduces the power output for maximum efficiency. The combustion engine is always ready and waiting in reserve should you run out of battery power or wish to travel further distances.
We have to say the driving experience is superb, transitioning effortlessly between petrol and electric mode, while performance is incredible for a car in this class. If you drive solely in electric mode economy of over 140mpg can be achieved, however we couldn’t replicate this during out test which took in lots of motorway mileage. Depending on the mode you choose, the 225xe alternates between front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. This might all seem rather advanced, but the driving experience is quite simple.
Our test car is the highest specification ‘Luxury’ model which means it is loaded with the latest and greatest BMW tech BMW. Highlights included Traffic Jam Assist and Real Time Traffic Information, which are both part of the BMW Navigation Plus upgrade package. Traffic Jam Assist is highly impressive as it eases the burden of driving in low speed, heavy traffic situations. At speeds of up to 60km/h, the system automatically brakes and accelerates for you in dense traffic, meaning all you have to do is hold the steering wheel. This was great on a traffic-filled M50.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
BMW has really shaken things up with the the new 2 Series Active and while it drives different and looks different to best sellers such as the 3-Series, it still retains the premium feel and quality that fans of the brand know and love. Family buyers will value the added space and practicality on offer inside, while those seeking a low emissions city-commuter should consider the 225xe plug-in hybrid version. As MPVs go, it is at the pricier end of the spectrum but many will look past this in favour of the BMW badge and the premium feel that it delivers over alternatives on the market.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: BMW 2 Series Luxury Active Tourer
Prices from: €33,440
Price as tested: €51,236
Annual Road Tax: €170
Engine: 1499cc three-cylinder petrol/electric motor
Power/Torque: 220hp, 385Nm
Top Speed: 201 km/h
0-100km/h: 6.7 seconds
Body style: 5-Door Hatchback
Boot Space: 468 litres
Euro NCAP Safety Rating: 5 Stars