The Bavarians are completely relaunching their compact van with two plug-ins, but no stretchers.
This is one of those stories where everyone puts their hands together at first. “It won’t work”, “It won’t work”, “How could they?” – in the automotive world, breaking with tradition is often nothing short of outrage. Then, a few years later, when everyone gets used to it and calms down, a change in dogma often pays off for the manufacturer. There are many examples of this, such as Volkswagen and Porsche switching from air-cooled to water-cooled engines, or BMW introducing front-wheel drive family vans. When the Bavarians revealed the 2-Series Active Tourer at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, a wave of outrage swept the automotive world. BMW’s front-wheel drive? And the family van?
The series manager in charge at the time, Frank Niederländer, was busy reassuring and explaining. “If you want to deliver what the market wants in terms of interior size and variability with a model like this, you can only do that with front-wheel drive and a transverse engine.” He puts it in perspective: “When we launched the Touring or There was a huge response when it came to the X model. But no one asked today if these station wagons or SUVs would be a good fit for BMW.”
feel like a bmw
The Dutch were right, seven years later the model became an integral part of the Bavarian product range – internally it is now called the “Conqueror” because it brought many new customers to the brand. More than 420,000 units have been sold to date, most of them in Europe. So it’s clear that the Active Tourer will be given the next generation – the unsuccessful long-wheelbase version of the Grand Tourer will be dropped from the range. The concept remains the same: compact family van, all-wheel front-wheel drive, transverse engine.
Nearly everything else is new: size has grown in every direction, the design is more powerful, and it now has the SUV touch of bigger wheels and a wider track. And under the sheet metal has been modernized as much as we can. The Active Tourer also now features the massive BMW kidney grille, which is currently the subject of controversial discussions. Inside, the model takes its biggest leap: a cabin reminiscent of the large electric SUV iX, a large curved display, refined materials and airy space. Everything feels like a BMW – exactly the way it should be.
Of the petrol and diesel engines on offer, 90% of the components are new or at least optimised to increase the unit’s efficiency. It also offers two plug-in hybrid models with a pure electric range of up to 90 kilometers, which is 35 kilometers more than the previous model. “Furthermore,” emphasizes project manager Tilo Renz, “the PHEV’s batteries are produced with 100 percent wind energy.” This also improves the environmental balance.
All of these changes and innovations result in a balanced and tight driving experience directly associated with BMW – a feat the predecessor didn’t manage to achieve. The more powerful plug-in hybrids are particularly recommended: the all-wheel drive 230e xDrive is impressive, with a system output of 336 hp, an actual range of 90 kilometers, and a WLTP fuel consumption of 1.1 to 1.4 liters per 100 kilometers. Both PHEVs will be launched at a later date, so pricing is unclear – the 2 Series Active Tourer with the combustion engine starts at 42,400 francs. BMW wouldn’t say whether it plans to launch an all-electric Active Tourer. “But he has the same platform as the iX1, so it’s possible,” a BMW technician said behind closed doors. The all-electric version of the small SUV, the X1, is slated to go on sale later this year.
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