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BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer. Image by Adam Towler.

Long term test: 2015 BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer
The Gran Tourer is closely based on the 2 Series Active Tourer, itself the first front-wheel drive car to wear the BMW badge on the nose. Both models use the architecture of the latest MINI, which enables more practicality-minded vehicles, with a high-set driving position such as these two, to come to market. The Gran Tourer is taller, longer and stretched in the wheelbase over the Active Tourer, to incorporate, in part, two small seats that rise out of the boot floor area. It made its debut in 2015 and aims to offer the practicality of an MPV with the 'premium' brand feel-good factor. In M Sport xDrive form, it certainly has a premium price tag, swollen significantly by optional extras on our test car. Is it worth the money?


About the author:

A lifelong car enthusiast, Adam began his career in motoring journalism at Autocar Magazine in 2003, eventually holding the title of Road Test Editor. He subsequently edited the popular Pistonheads website before turning freelance in 2007. Since then his work has appeared regularly in titles across the spectrum of motoring media, including Top Gear, EVO, Octane and Classic Cars. He is also currently a regular motoring reviewer for the Express national newspaper at the weekend. Adam loves most types of cars, but has a particular obsession with classic French hot hatches and older Porsches, along with a keen interest in historic and modern motor sport. If it's not cars, you'll probably find him immersed in the world of old aircraft.

Follow Adam Towler on Twitter: @AdamTowler

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer. Image by Adam Towler.

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer. Image by Adam Towler.

  1 December, 2016
To the untrained eye, the 2GT probably looks like a large, practical vehicle. To the experienced parent, the warning bells sound if three children are mentioned. Why? Because it may be a cliché, but it's simply amazing just how much 'stuff' little people bring with them. And then there's where they sit themselves; when I was growing up, it was acceptable to simply have kids lying unrestrained all over the back seat, or on a parent's lap in the front passenger seat. In effect, you could cram in as many as you needed to.

These days it is, of course, very different, and thankfully so. However, with their chunky safety seats it does mean that space is at a premium. When you then factor in that most cars have a sculptured rear bench, fitting three kids' seats across the second row suddenly becomes a major headache.

Take a BMW 5 Series Touring for example. That seems as though it would make for an ideal family car, and it'd certainly appeal to me. But upon closer inspection the rear bench is divided into two definite rear seats, with a wide sloping area coming in from the door, and then a narrow raised centre seat very much as an afterthought. It's designed for two adults to be as comfortable as possible: it's absolutely useless for trying to squeeze three full-size kids' seats in there, let alone if you're trying to use Isofix for each one.

The 2GT has a much flatter rear bench, actually divided quite clearly into three separate seats, and with its straighter body sides there is much more width available to fit in the child seats. However, I'm finding it's not really big enough. I can get all three across (each is a different type relating to the age of the child), but it's a very, very tight squeeze, and a pain to install. I can't use the extra pair of seats in the boot, otherwise where would I put the massive pushchair, the changing bag, the toys and on, and on...

So, disappointingly, I'm not really finding the 2GT big enough, and the boot is not as commodious as my previous car, a Skoda Octavia Estate. It's still workable, but it proves that once you go to three little people your motoring choices are limited. I know that's not the most thrilling of subject matters, but it's a reality that even die-hard car enthusiasts have to face sometimes.

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer. Image by Adam Towler.

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer. Image by Adam Towler.

  1 November, 2015
Where to start with the 2GT? I mean that literally, because it positively drips with features, many optional, so it's hard to know where to begin when giving an opinion. I'm going to revert to type and give some initial impressions on what it's like to drive.

My initial answer is good - in a typically modern BMW way. The 2GT does have genuine poise on the road, some way beyond that of a typical MPV. If you want to still get some enjoyment out of your driving, and not feel like you've given up completely, then this is certainly one option.

Two (extra cost) elements contribute to that impression considerably. This car has the 'Sport' auto transmission option (£135) and the Electronic Damper control (EDC) for £150. The Driving experience switch offers the usual Eco-comfort-sport settings, and in the most extreme of these the 2GT can really be flung about with gusto (without the kids on board, obviously). This switch firms up the dampers, gives more aggressive gearbox and engine maps and adds weight to the steering. It feels like a fairly synthetic experience, but the 2GT turns in well, rolls little and grips particularly keenly. Nevertheless, the ride is rather agitated on all bar the very smoothest of surfaces, and even without a young 'un with you it's too firm for everyday use. In the regular comfort mode the car is quite languid, with very little steering feedback via the fat, M Sport steering wheel, but at least the ride is fairly comfortable - even if the large alloy wheels make their presence felt on rougher roads.

The 2.0-litre diesel is a typical BMW oil burner: mostly very refined, smooth, and progressive in delivery with plenty of torque. However, it doesn't feel quite as strong as the 190hp output would have you believe, and that's surely down to the weight of this particular model. Even so, overtaking is easy, which is what you want with a car such as this one.

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer. Image by Adam Towler.

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer. Image by Adam Towler.

  1 October, 2015
Say hello to the trusty Skoda's replacement: a BMW 220d Gran Tourer. In fact, to give it its full name that should read 220d xDrive M Sport Gran Tourer, for this is a four-wheel drive version in ubiquitous M Sport trim, right down to being painted in Estoril Blue.

It's permanently on the tip of my tongue to say that the 2 Series Active and Gran Tourer (the latter simply being a longer, seven-seat version of the former) are the first front-wheel drive BMWs, but of course, given the rear axle is also driven on this particular car that's nonsensical. Nevertheless, hopefully you take the point: the basis for this car is the first front-wheel drive BMW, at least!

I've yet to meet someone who has the faintest idea what a 220d GT actually is. Whether anything can be read into that I can't say with any authority, but I can't recall seeing another GT on the road yet, and only very rarely an Active Tourer. The last thing people expect to hear is that it's an MPV, but this is, in effect, a rival for cars such as the Ford Grand C-Max, at least in size terms. What it's not is a rival in terms of price: with a list price of £34,060 'my' car could never be called cheap, but with £7,000 worth of options, it's eye-wateringly pricey. Nevertheless, given almost all will be purchased on a BMW finance package, probably with a balloon payment, that may not be as painful as it looks on paper - and I may be showing my age by looking at the retail price.

Talking of ages, with the arrival of Towler junior mk3, the practical aspect of the 2GT (I'm going to call it that from now on, ok?) will be tested to the max. The extra two seats rise out of the boot floor, but that's not really an option when you have all the kit in tow of a typical young family - you need the boot space. So we'll have to see whether everyone fits in!


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