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BMW takes the Active Tourer Outdoor outdoors this weekend

Thu, 11 Jul 2013

This weekend BMW will be taking its BMW Concept Active Tourer Outdoor to the annual OutDoor fair in Friedrichshafen, Germany. We first saw the concept last September, noting that it was a departure for BMW in more ways than one -- with the German automaker stretching itself into segments in which it previously had no foothold.

The BMW Active Tourer is meant to preview a whole new generation of small cars from BMW, but one of the biggest changes underneath is a transverse layout of the engine -- a setup that BMW has traditionally shunned in favor of a longitudinal layout. In another departure for BMW, the Active Tourer Concept uses a new 1.5 liter three-cylinder direct-injection gasoline engine coupled with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain.

The OutDoor Friedrichshafen fair is an annual event showcasing adventure gear of all sorts. BMW has tweaked the Concept Active Tourer accordingly for the occasion, and not just with its exclusive gold race orange paintwork. The Active Tourer is meant to be a family car first and foremost, so versatility and practicality is the first order of business in this tall five-seater.

Admittedly, it is difficult to get a sense of scale of the BMW Active Concept in photos alone, especially for a segment of car not present in any significant variety in North America. With a length of 171 inches and a width of 62 inches, the BMW Active Tourer is just a bit longer than a Nissan Cube, with the roofline sitting a bit lower. For our Canadian and European readers: the BMW Active Tourer's dimensions can best be described as being more or less identical to those of the Mercedes-Benz B-class.

But all comparisons with the B-class end then and there, as the BMW Active Tourer Outdoor is a much different car on the inside.

Don't worry: It still has four seats and a steering wheel, but the concept features toughened interior materials for easy care in the form of “MoonWhite” and “MoonRock Grey” leather, which makes it easier to stow your outdoor toys. And speaking of outdoor toys, the car has a special carrier system for two bicycles integrated into the interior. We can't help but think that the packaging alone would make this BMW (were it to go into production) a fantastic city car.

And speaking of clever packaging and fantastic city cars, BMW already had one that it didn't want to share with its North American fans. That car was the BMW 1-series two-door and four-door hatchback, and it has been almost nine years to the day since that hatchback went on sale in other markets.

We may not get that 1-series, but we're still excited to see BMW working to make a small car big on the inside, instead of making a big car small on the inside.

By Jay Ramey