When it launched in 2014 the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer was met with fairly vicious criticism, especially by BMW fans. It wasn’t exactly surprising given that the Active Tourer was a front-wheel-drive MPV with pretty frumpy styling — not what most enthusiasts want from a car with the blue and white roundel on the hood. But the Active Tourer has been pretty successful, with almost 450,000 sold since its inception. This week BMW debuted the second-generation 2 Series Active Tourer and while it doesn’t stray too far from the first model’s formula, it looks a lot better and packs a radical interior.
The styling is definitely still un-BMW, at least in the traditional sense, but I’ve gotta say I’m a fan. (You have to admit that it looks better than the old one, at least.) The combination of the huge, connected kidney grilles, the slim LED lights and the angular air intakes make the 2 Series Active Tourer look like an angry animal from an animated cartoon. I prefer the base model (the white car) over the M Sport package (the blue one), as the latter’s bumper designs are a little too fussy.
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Funnily enough, the new 2 Series Active Tourer has one of the most “real” Hofmeister Kink pillar designs out of any modern BMW, and the side surfacing is fairly simple overall. BMW says the new car’s windshield has a steeper rake, and despite the same wheelbase and slightly longer length it has better proportions. I like the flush door handles nabbed from the 4 Series Gran Coupe, too. The slim taillights are now-familiar BMW designs, and the 2 Series Active Tourer is available with wheels up to 19 inches in size.
It’s the interior for me, though. The overall design takes inspiration from the new iX SUV, with a floating center console connected to the armrest (that sadly isn’t made from wood and crystal like in the iX) and a curved display atop the dash that consists of a 10.3-inch gauge cluster and a 10.7-inch infotainment screen. I love the real wood and aluminum trim that spans the dash, and the slim air vents with one in the center give the dash a Star Wars droid-like look. There are almost zero buttons on the dashboard, with the new iDrive 8 operating system containing nearly all the climate controls and other functions in the touchscreen.
Therein lies the most radical part about the new Active Tourer: it’s the first BMW since the E65-generation 7 Series to have an iDrive infotainment system that completely does without a rotary knob as a controller. BMW says the iDrive 8 system was designed to be operated via touch and voice controls, and functions are apparently ‘easily and more intuitively’ controlled than with the previous system. Much of the infotainment system can also be controlled with the buttons on the redesigned steering wheel.
Practicality is the name of the game when it comes to MPVs, and the 2 Series Active Tourer has a number of clever touches. That center console houses commonly used controls like the gear selector, volume dial and drive mode selector, and underneath is a large, open storage area. Ahead of the armrest are a pair of big cupholders and a slot for your smartphone that leaves the screen visible and can wirelessly charge the device. The rear seats can slide fore and aft by over 5 inches, and the seatbacks recline and fold flat with a 40:20:40 split. BMW says interior space and cargo room has increased compared to the outgoing model.
The second-gen Active Tourer rides on the same front-wheel-drive platform as the old model (and the X1 and X2 that we get in the US), though it has a wider track and updated suspension components. It’ll be offered with a single diesel engine and a few different gas engines, two turbocharged three-cylinder units and a 2.0-liter turbo four, with one of the three-cylinders and the four-cylinder featuring new 48-volt mild-hybrid technology. The most powerful model is the 218-horsepower 223i, which gets a 19-hp boost from the hybrid system. All four engines are paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Next summer the Active Tourer lineup will gain two plug-in-hybrid models, the 225xe and the 230xe. Both pair a turbocharged three-cylinder engine powering the front wheels with an electric motor mounted with the transmission powering the rear axle, giving the PHEV all-wheel drive. The 14.9-kWh battery pack in both models is mounted low for a better center of gravity, and it can be charged from 0% to 100% in two-nd-a-half hours. While the 225xe makes a combined 241 hp the 230xe produces a whopping 322 hp — and both have an EV range of 50 miles on the European cycle.
Standard features include a power tailgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors, four USB-C ports and automatic headlights. Optional are items like adaptive dampers, a panoramic sunroof, dynamic ambient interior lighting, augmented reality navigation, a head-up display, nicer interior materials with contrast stitching, a Harmon Kardon sound system (with rad speaker grilles) and even massaging seats. Forward-collision warning, back-up assist, lane-departure warning and automated emergency braking are all standard too, and the Active Tourer is available with adaptive cruise control with stop and go, a 360-degree camera, lane-keeping assist and a remote theft recorder. Depending on the car’s equipped hardware, features like the adaptive cruise can be added later via an over-the-air update.
The new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer will go on sale in Europe in February 2022 with a starting price of around $35,000 for the base 318i model. The plug-in hybrids will follow a few months later. While the Active Tourer won’t be sold in the US, you can expect some of its styling elements and knob-less iDrive system to make their way to BMWs in America in the near future.