There have been subtler plots in the Fast and Furious franchise than what BMW insists on fitting to the noses of its new cars these days, so let’s instead focus on… anything else.
This is the brand-new version of the most sensible car BMW currently makes.
It is the 2 Series Active Tourer (no, you can’t buy a Passive Tourer), and jest all you like, it’s been a bit of a hit for BMW: since its 2014 launch, more than 430,000 people have bought one of these MPVs.
More interestingly, 80 per cent of these customers were new BMW owners.
So, if it ain’t broke, bolt on an enormous grille up front and make it More.
MPVs haven’t traditionally been the preserve of the late-braking crowd – though, more on that later – so let’s look at other things.
It’s quieter, more aero efficient and features lighter materials. It has naturally grown over its predecessor in every metric including the actually important everyday ones: head-, shoulder- and elbow-room are up, and there’s a ‘noticeable’ uptick in knee space in the back.
There’s also been a noticeable uptick in Dashboard, because the new 2 AT now comes fitted with a layout inspired by the fully-electric BMW iX.
There’s BMW’s new ‘Curved Display’, which is a 10.25in information display and a 10.7in control display, housed together under a glass surface that gently curves towards the driver (‘like an old E30!’ you probably won’t say).
Apparently, the graphics and menu have been set up to look like a smartphone.
There is so much stuff to unpack here: new BMW maps, MODES (‘Personal’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Efficient’), an interior camera for pictures during journeys (file that in the ‘WTF’ pile), and even a live video stream augmenting the nav.
Tonnes of driver assistance is on offer too, including speed limit assist, cruise control, steering/lane assist, and of course reverse/parking assist. Only thing missing is a ‘sing the kids a lullaby assist’. Maybe it’ll get an OTA update.
Buttons? Aside from the ones on the steering wheel – and if you discount iDrive – um, nope.
Temperature is a permanent fixture on the touchscreen, mind, while airflow and seat heaters need a second push. About iDrive, though: it’s version 8, which is the latest and most powerful.
Speaking of power, let’s talk engines now. Two petrol engines will be available from launch, including the 220i (1.5-litre three-pot, electric motor, 168bhp total, 0-100km/h in 8.1s), and the 223i (2.0-litre four-pot, electric motor, 215bhp total, 0-100km/h in 7s) driving the front wheels. Both, you’ll note, feature that 19bhp motor – it’s bolted onto the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox (and only a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox).
There’s a 218d that uses an updated version of BMW’s four-cylinder diesel, offering up to 4.8l/100km, while in 2022 a couple of proper plug-in hybrids join the range in the shape of a 225e and 230e xDrive.
This marries the 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol up front to an electric motor on the back, for a 242bhp total in the 225 and 322bhp for the 230e. BMW promises up to 78km of fully electric range from these two cars.
Oh yeah, we mentioned late-braking heroics. The new brakes are said to be very good and offer “outstanding stopping power” thanks to a new integrated brake system (activation/booster/control functions all in one module). There’s traction control via ‘near-actuator wheel slip limitation’, which sounds awfully Senior for a humble mini-MPV.
Indeed, though a humble mini-MPV, this is still a BMW, so the company promises it’s pleasant to drive and ride in (note we found the first gen car to ride a little on the stiff side).
The front suspension has been redeveloped “almost from scratch” for better steering feel and turn in, and trade up to an M Sport model and you get adaptive dampers and a 15mm drop in ride height, plus a more direct rack ratio for the steering. Kids will love that one, for sure.
STORY Vijay Pattni