BMW goes front-wheel drive for the 2-series Active TourerThu, 13 Feb 2014
BMW's long-held reputation for producing only rear- and four-wheel drive vehicles comes to an end with the the new 2-series Active Tourer, its first-ever front-wheel-drive production model.
The cornerstone of BMW's Geneva show stand next month, the 2-series Active Tourer marks a significant turning point for the German automaker, adopting a transverse-mounted engine and standard FWD. It arrives here in early 2015.
The first official pictures of the new 2 show a versatile, MPV-like car, changing little in size or appearance since it was shown as a concept at the 2012 Paris show.
The second model in BMW's new 2-series lineup, the Active Tourer follows the rear- and four-wheel-drive 2-series coupe unveiled in Detroit. Yet 2-series Active Tourer proportions differ from those cars, especially around the front end with its shorter, more heavily angled hood. The tall greenhouse also has a cab-forward look not usually associated with BMW.
Don't freak out, BMW fans: You can still find the kidney-shaped grille, chamfered wheelarches, prominent body-side swage line and so-called Hofmeister kink in the C-pillars.
The Active Tourer is also the first BMW model sold with three-cylinder power, with the compact, 1.5-liter turbo-gas engine just unveiled in the Mini hatchback. The engine is also related to the three-cylinder in the gasoline-electric hybrid i8 Coupe. Further engines for the U.S. include a four-cylinder. Gearbox choices are a standard six-speed manual and optional six-speed automatic with the three-cylinder. Four-cylinder cars get an eight-speed automatic.
All gearboxes have standard stop/start, while the automatics also get a coasting function disengaging the engine on a trailing throttle for added fuel savings. The 8-speed has a launch function for maximum off-the-line acceleration.
xDrive four-wheel drive is optional.
A new platform
The new car is the first BMW model using the company's entry-level high-strength steel platform – Mini also uses it on its new, third-generation hatchback.
The modular platform supports at least three different wheelbases and variable track widths, making it suitable for several new models including a successor to today's X1 and a new front-wheel-drive entry-level 1-series sedan. BMW has both under intensive development right now.
Front suspension is MacPherson strut; the rear is multilink. BMW also plans an M-Sport with a 0.4-inch lower ride height, firmer springs and dampers. Steering is electromechanical with optional speed sensitive Servotronic assistance.
At 171.0 inches long, 70.9 inches wide and 61.2 inches high, the Active Tourer is 0.7 inches longer, 2.2 inches wider and a considerable 5.3 inches taller than BMW's entry-level 1-series hatchback. To put this in perspective, the Mercedes-Benz B-class, a similar front-wheel-drive premium class crossover coming here in June as an EV measures 171.7 inches long, 70.3 inches wide and the same 2.2 inch high.
The interior has greater flexibility than traditional BMWs, thanks to the new car's transverse engine layout and its space-saving potential. The front seats are positioned at roughly the same height as the X1's but are more upright for more rear-seat room.
At launch, the Active Tourer has room for up to five. An extended-wheelbase 7-seat version comes at year end. The 5-seater's trunk capacity is 16.5 cubic feet, rising to 43.3 cubic feet with the rear seats (they split in a 40:20:40 combination) folded. The B-class offers between 17.1 cubic feet/54.6 cubic feet of luggage space.
The interior styling leans on other recent new BMW models with a clear horizontal theme to the dashboard, clear white on black analogue instruments, three-spoke multifunction steering wheel, electronic park brake and wide center console housing a rotary controller for the infotainment system. BMW offers several options including head-up display, panoramic sunroof and internet-based connectivity features.
Multistage rollout planned
Europe will be first to get the 218i Active Tourer with the Mini Cooper's 1.5-liter three cylinder, producing 134 hp and 162 lb-ft torque at 1250 rpm. It should hit 62 mph in 9.2 seconds on the way to a 124 mph top speed while returning the equivalent of 48.0 mpg on the combined EU fuel-consumption cycle.
The 218d joins it at launch, using a new turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel four boasting 148 hp and 243 lb-ft for an 8.9-second 0-62 mph, 127 mph top speed and 57.3 mpg.
Shortly after introduction, a performance-leading 225i arrives. Likely the U.S. launch model, its 2.0-liter turbo four is planned with an automatic trans only. With 227 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque at 1250 rpm, it boasts 0-62 in 6.8 seconds, a 146-mph top speed and 39.2 mpg. Other models confirmed for later in 2015 include the front-wheel-drive 220i, 216d and 220d as well as four-wheel-drive 225i Xdrive and 220d Xdrive models.
By Greg Kable