BMW’s new 2-Series Active Tourer loses two seats but gains a super luxurious cabin


ALTHOUGH not in my top 10, the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer has a very special place in my heart, as does Brendan O’Carroll’s Mrs Brown’s Boys.

It was for that very show my wife, son, two sisters and our beloved mum crammed in to the seven-seat version for a trip to the SSE Arena in Belfast for a wondrous night.

Despite the front-wheel drive set-up (first made by the Germans) powered by a transverse three-cylinder petrol engine, we were pleasantly surprised.

So too were the nearly half a million customers who have bought one — of which, more than 80pc were new to the brand.

Fast forward seven years and we have the second generation which was unveiled in Birmingham last week.

To celebrate the occasion we were treated to a tour of BMW’s state-of-the-art factory at Hams Hall outside the city, where 10 engines an hour are produced from scratch and shipped to Germany, China and the USA.

Not wanting to tinker with the design too much, the boffins at the Blue Prop badge have opted for the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach by keeping the MPV look.

It gets a sharper, more chiselled look with that super aggressive larger kidney grille, slimmer LED headlights and massive air vents in the lower apron, finished in honeycomb and piano black housings.

The biggest changes are on the inside, with a cabin that wouldn’t look out of place in their flagship 7-Series limo.

Taking its cues from the BMW iX, the curved display – with its frameless glass
surface angled toward the driver – gives it a space-age feel and the high-res displays are simply breathtaking.

And if the 10.25-inch instrument cluster twinned with a 10.7-inch infotainment system weren’t enough, you can opt for a head-up display projected onto the windscreen.

The new model is larger than its predecessor by 32mm in length, 24mm in width, and 21mm in height. While the wheelbase is unchanged at 2,670mm, BMW has scrapped the seven-seat option, which some existing customers may find disappointing.

Boot space is one of the biggest in the MPV class at 470 litres, which expands to 1,455 litres with the seats folded flat.

Automatic tailgate comes as standard, while the optional Comfort Access adds hands-free opening and closing.

Irish punters can choose from two petrol engines and one diesel in the guise of the 218d or 220i and 223i.

The line-up is set to expand from summer with the addition of two plug-in hybrid models equipped with fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology that are boasting a pure electric driving range of over 90km.

We had the pleasure of driving to the Cotswolds in the 2.0-litre diesel twinned to an all new seven-speed automatic gearbox which was sublime.

There is more than enough grunt in the 150bhp unit to hit 100kph in 8.8 seconds and it cruised effortlessly on the motorway.

Handling-wise, it is what you’d expect from a lofty people carrier, wallowing a tad in tight corners and lacking the drive dynamic of its rear-wheel drive siblings.

The same cannot be said for the 2-Series coupe, which is epic. The flagship M240i is packing a 3.0-litre straight six that generates a face-peeling 370bhp and a 0-100kph in 4.8 seconds.

The permanent all-wheel drive set-up give this little pocket rocket phenomenal grip and agility and even on gargantuan 20-inch rims and with stiffened M Sport suspension, the ride is comfortable.

Just like the effervescent Mrs Brown, it never failed to put a huge smile on my face.

Prices for the new 2 Series Active Tourer start at €41,225.

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Philip Hedderman