Launching a minivan in the midst of an SUV wave? It was BMW’s risky bet in 2014 with the 2 Series Active Tourer. And despite customers’ lack of love for single-volume bodies, the Bavarian company seems to have been right with more than 400,000 units sold worldwide. A success that BMW wants to continue with this second generation, but only in short chassis. The long version “Grand Tourer” disappears from the catalogue.
The new Series 2 Active Tourer maintains its sleek minivan silhouette with reasonable headroom. The dimensions are very close to the previous generation. The length has been increased to 4.39 m (+3 cm), while the wheelbase does not move (2.67 m). BMW wanted to give it a somewhat “crossover” look, particularly with the arrival of a large grille like the rest of the range and nifty front lights. The rear also evolves with much better integrated lights than before. The sporty look can be reinforced by choosing the M Sport livery, which dresses the minivan with an M Sport body kit, 18-inch rims and the specific “Alpine White” colour.
The interior gets a much bigger overhaul. This leads to the introduction of a double digital panel, slightly curved towards the driver, composed of fully configurable instruments measuring 10.25 inches, surrounded by a head-up display and a finally tactile 10.7-inch multimedia -Screen can be supported. The latter benefits from Android and Carplay connectivity and a personal assistant “Alexa”.
This new device results in the disappearance of many buttons, including the i-Drive wheel that has been present since the early 2000s. To adjust the temperature and ventilation it is now necessary to go through this tablet. However, BMW has implemented a shortcut for easy access. The other big novelty is the appearance of a floating console between the two front seats. Very aesthetic but impractical. The foldable armrest houses a tiny storage space and to use the large storage compartment below you have to turn around.
BMW used this new floating console to place the start button there. It’s a habit because after a week behind the wheel of the Series 2 Active Tourer, we were still looking for the start button. Opposite this console there is a double cup holder (without springs for “slim” cans) and a vertical smartphone holder equipped with an inductive charger and completed by two nearby USB-C ports. The idea is awesome.
The materials and finishes are consistent with the brand’s reputation and the asking prices. Namely excellent. Our test version sold for 38,500 euros in the high-quality “Luxury” equipment was equipped with a high-quality “full leather” interior. Even the basic version with the name “Active Tourer” for 36,400 euros with this engine is very well equipped. Among the many options available in the catalog, we recommend the Harmann Kardon sound pack and its 12HP (810 €). Aesthetically pleasing with its aluminum grilles, this sound system offers a bass depth that will delight music lovers.
As a good minivan, the Series 2 ActiveTourer offers more modularity than an SUV. The basic offer consists of a folding rear bench seat according to the 40/20/40 scheme with tilting backrests. Unfortunately, in order to be able to use the sliding rear seat (over 14 cm), you have to subscribe to an overpriced package (Evasion: €2,050). The rear seats offer enough space for two adults. The middle seat will serve as a repair, since it is narrow and the space at the foot is occupied by the transmission tunnel. The loading volume is identical to the previous generation. So on average for the category with 470 liters basis. It can be expanded to 1,455 liters with the seats folded down.
Installing a diesel engine in a family vehicle seemed logical in the 2000s, today this offer is considered heresy, because in the near future, the deadline for which is random depending on the territory, vehicles of the Crit’air 2 class (that is, all vehicles with modern diesel engines) will become available banned from EPZs (Low Emission Zones). For Paris, the date is set for January 1, 2024.
But without apologizing to the diesel, this engine still has many advantages. Especially if it’s designed by BMW. One of the best engine builders in the world. It emits little CO2 (134 g CO2/km at maximum, so a maximum penalty of €190 in 2022) and consumes really very little! During our 500 km test, we measured an average of 5.4 l/100 km on a mixed route without ever driving in an eco mode (an Eco mode is available). An excellent score that extends your visits to the pump and guarantees a range of almost 900 km with a full tank (45 liters).
This 4-cylinder, currently the only one in the catalog (petrol engines are equipped with 3 cylinders), develops 150 hp and a maximum torque of 360 Nm. Devoid of light hybridization, it is mated exclusively to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The latter features an “L” mode for low, which increases engine braking efficiency and allows for quicker acceleration. Note that this mode is only available on automatic transmissions without paddle shifters. If the customer orders a car with paddle shifters, this mode is replaced by an “S” mode (with shorter shift laws).
The Series 2 Active Tourer uses the high torque to compensate for its high weight, which flirts with 1,600 kg. Accelerations are snappy and the pickups are solid, making it comfortable in all situations. Especially at a constant speed on the motorway you notice its appetite, which is around 5.1 l/100 km. In the city, this 4-cylinder is logically less flexible than its petrol counterpart, but it knows how to be discreet.
The chassis remains in the spirit of the first generation. It is tightly tuned to bring out the dynamic qualities. Body movements are perfectly controlled and the consistent steering is responsive and precise. The BMW minivan thus offers superior driving temperament to most compact SUVs. However, pay attention to the chosen rim size, which affects comfort, especially at low speeds, where the smallest imperfection affects the passenger compartment. After all, the brake pedal, which is really too hard for our taste, punishes city traffic and especially in traffic jams.