The petrol engine boasts the same tuning as that of the 218i Active Tourer, serving up 134bhp and 162lb ft on a reasonably wide band of revs between 1250 and 4300rpm. As on the i8, the moderate reserves are channelled through a six-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifts mounted on the steering wheel.
Altogether, there’s a combined system output of 221bhp and 284lb ft. It’s not the most powerful 2-Series Active Tourer model, though. That honor rests with the 225i, whose turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine makes 228bhp and 258lb ft.
Electrical energy used to run the electric motor is sourced from a 7.6kWh lithium ion battery mounted underneath the rear seat in the same space as the fuel tank is located in conventionally powered Active Tourers.
As a result, the fuel tank has been reduced in capacity by 15 litres to 36 litres. It’s now also made of steel rather than plastic and is pressurised to allow petrol to be stored safely over longer periods if the 225xe is used predominantly in electric mode. The rear seat has also been raised by 30mm to accommodate the battery, which uses the same cells as that employed by the new 330e.
Even so, boot capacity has been reduced by 70 litres to 400 litres owing to the packaging of the power electronics in the front section of the boot floor.
Aside from a flap integrated in the front left-hand wing, housing the socket for charging cable, the 225xe looks like any other 2-Series Active Tourer. Recharging time on regular mains electricity is claimed to take 3hr 15min, with an optional high-power wall box reducing this to 2hr 15min.
What's it like?
While we continue to harbour some reservations about the less than premium quality reflected by some of the interior fittings, this latest 2-Series Active Tourer model feels remarkably well engineered for something so inherently complex.
Far from being your typical front-wheel-drive hatchback, its ability to run in either front or rear-wheel drive, or a combination of both with a traction-enhancing torque vectoring function, provides it with convincing all-season qualities.
As in more conventional hybrid models introduced by BMW in recent times, the driver gets to choose between three different driving modes: Auto eDrive, Max eDrive and Save Battery.
The former is the default mode, meaning the 225xe Active Tourer pulls away from standstill on electric power alone. At 1660kg, it’s certainly no lightweight. However, the instant torque provided by the rear-mounted electric motor to the rear wheels endows it with a good turn of speed away from the traffic lights.
A faint whine from the electric motor can be detected under load. Otherwise, the new BMW is nicely refined at typical urban speeds and, without interaction from the petrol engine, it is fully zero-emission compatible. Don’t expect to match the claimed 25 mile electric range too often, though. On anything but ultra-light throttle loads, the battery charge is quickly reduced.
Switching into Max eDrive calls up the full force of the electric motor, allowing you to hit a limited electric top speed of 78mph. When the state of charge of the battery drops below 20%, or on kickdown, the combustion engine fires to provide a combination of petrol-electric power and a considerable increase in performance.