Imagine having been a fly on the wall of that meeting room, at BMW headquarters in Munich one day in early 2010, when those infamous customer survey results were given an airing.

You know the ones. “About that hatchback we’ve spent millions on engineering in authentic-BMW ‘standard’ rear-wheel drive. The thing is, Dr Reithofer, four out of five 1 Series owners don’t care.”

“They don’t care. Really? Okay. Let’s give them some front-drivers to get excited about.”

Perhaps not the exact words of BMW's top man, who’s still in charge today, but they might as well have been, given that a whole series of new-wave compact models is now waiting in the wings, all of them front driven and none of them allegedly any less of a true BMW as a result.

The rear-drive 1 Series’ death warrant has been signed. Until now, there had never been a propeller-badged model driven and steered primarily by the same axle.

The new 2 Series Active Tourer is the first of many. It has more to show us about the future of BMW than any RWD saloon the firm has launched, and has already spawned the larger seven-seater 2 Series Gran Tourer.

So does the new front-wheel-drive BMW offer more than established alternatives such as the Volkswagen Golf SV, Mercedes-Benz B-Class or the Citroën C4 Picasso? Let's find out.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LS 500h
    First Drive
    14 December 2017
    New flagship saloon from Lexus provides a luxury interior to rival the best but comes up short due to its hybrid powertrain
  • Volkswagen T-Roc 1.0 TSI SE
    First Drive
    14 December 2017
    Volkswagen's has high aspirations for its new crossover be the best in class and then some. We've driven the 1.0 TSI T-Roc out in the UK to see if it's as good as Wolfsburg says
  • Dacia Sandero Stepway LPG
    First Drive
    14 December 2017
    We’re familiar with the Sandero – it’s the cheap fuel that really intrigues us. We’ve sourced a dual-fuel Dacia to determine whether running a car on LPG is practical in Britain
  • Ford Mondeo ST-Line
    First Drive
    13 December 2017
    The Mondeo ST-Line marries sporty styling with that car's signature dynamism to make a rather appealing package designed for private buyers
  • Audi RS4 Avant
    First Drive
    12 December 2017
    The Audi RS4 Avant covers ground like few, if any, other estate cars, but it doesn’t involve you all that much in the process