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First ever front-wheel drive BMW. Image by BMW.

First ever front-wheel drive BMW
New BMW 2 Series Active Tourer uses front-wheel drive to compete with Merc B-Class.
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What's the news?

We knew the day was coming and now it has. BMW will go front-wheel drive for the first time ever when it unveils the 2 Series Active Tourer at next month's Geneva Motor Show. The car will also feature the new 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine that recently debuted in the new MINI.


Looking unlike any BMW that has come before the Active Tourer has a higher roofline, longer wheelbase and larger doors than the 2 Series Coupé it shares a designation with. Despite this it still wears some of the usual BMW identifiers. The front view is dominated by the low-rise kidney grille, which is positioned lower than the headlights - a feature normally reserved for the coupés in the line-up. The headlights themselves feature BMW's distinctive 'Angel Eyes' with LED daytime running lamps acting as eyebrows. The lights can be upgraded to bi-LED units too, which are said to match bi-Xenon lights for the amount of illumination they provide.

Character lines cut through the flank of the car, somewhat disguising the wedge shape of the vehicle before ending in a Hofmeister kink at the rear where an integrated spoiler peers down on traditional L-shaped rear lights (also upgradeable to LED units) that cut back into the rear flanks of the Active Tourer.


The 2 Series Active Tourer's unique drivetrain (we will get to that later) means the new car sits higher than any other to carry the 2 Series name. This has its benefits with what BMW calls a 'semi-Command' seating position. Up to five occupants, including the driver, can be accommodated in the airy cabin. The large glasshouse helps contribute to the spacious feel with split A-pillars allowing for a good view of the road ahead.

Much of the cabin layout will be immediately familiar to BMW drivers bar the heater and Driving Experience controls, which are now positioned on the centre console. The rear seats split 40:20:40 and BMW says that the interior can take items up to 2.4 metres long - perfect for the active types that the car will no doubt be marketed towards.


Let's get the obvious out of the way early: the 2 Series Active Tourer is front-wheel drive, BMW's first model to come in this configuration. However, the Bavarians say that, despite the switch from rear- to front-wheel drive, the new car has lost none of its dynamic ability.

To start with the chassis is all-new, not a simple rehash of the existing 2 Series underpinnings. Multi-link rear suspension is joined by a single-joint spring strut axle up front. This front axle (BMW says) has undergone rigorous testing to ensure that it delivers optimum driving dynamics and precise steering feedback. The electromechanical steering is also said to eliminate torque steer. We will just have to wait and see for ourselves at the launch.

What we will not have to wait for is the new 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine, as it is the same unit fitted to the new MINI. Badged as 218i there's 136hp and a combined fuel economy figure of 67.3mpg, with emissions of 115g/km. That car will be joined on stage in Geneva by the range topping 225i Active Tourer. Sporting a TwinPower four-cylinder petrol engine that is good for 231hp, returns 47.1mpg and emits 139g/km of CO2 - not bad for a car that can do the 0-62mph dash in 6.8 seconds and tops out at 146mph.

As standard the 2 Series Active Tourer will come equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox, though a new range of Steptronic automatic units have also been developed; six-speed for the three-cylinder engined cars and eight-speed for those with four cylinders. All transmissions come with stop-start, while the Steptronic versions further improve vehicle efficiency with a coasting function.

Anything else?

While the 2 Series Active Tourer will debut in Geneva in 218i and 225i guises these models will soon be joined by the 150hp 218d, a 220d and 216d, as well as a 220i. Four-wheel drive xDrive versions of the 220d and 225i models will also become available in time.

As is the way with BMW, in addition to the standard trim three further personalisation options will be offered. The Sport model is said to be for owners with a more dynamic side while Luxury cars are all about elegance and exclusivity. Then there are the M Sport packages that will be available from November. An M Aerodynamics package, M Sport suspension and 17- or 18-inch M light-alloy wheels on the outside are complemented by an M leather steering wheel and specially upholstered sports seats.

Matt Robinson - 15 Feb 2014

2014 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. Image by BMW.2014 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. Image by BMW.2014 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. Image by BMW.2014 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. Image by BMW.2014 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. Image by BMW.

2014 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. Image by BMW.2014 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. Image by BMW.2014 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. Image by BMW.2014 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. Image by BMW.2014 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. Image by BMW.    - BMW road tests
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