From £25,2208
New engines, gearboxes and looks spruce up the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer for 2018

Our Verdict

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer
The BMW 2-series Active Tourer goes up against the likes of the Volkswagen Golf SV and Ford C-Max

BMW dips its toe into front-wheel drive with an upmarket MPV

What is it?

In case you’d forgotten about it in the haze of SUVs, the 2 Series Active Tourer is BMW’s take on the MPV. Like its bigger brother, the 2 Series Gran Tourer, 2018 sees a number of revisions to keep it fresh. Given that the UK is the third biggest market for it, we should probably sit up and take notice.

The most noticeable changes are more aggressive front and rear bumpers, larger exhaust tips (one for three-pot models, a pair for fours), plus the inevitable new colours and alloy wheels. Under the skin, the old auto 'boxes are replaced with a seven-speed dual-clutch on all but the 220d, which gets an eight-speed torque converter.

There are refreshed engines that have been tweaked for the new WLTP testing regimes. Petrol engines gain up to 7bhp and 7Ib ft of torque, while diesel outputs are unchanged.

What's it like?

Our experience with the updated 2 Series Active Tourer was limited to the 220d xDrive that’s only available with the eight-speed auto — no bad thing. Even in this boxy body, performance is sprightly, with the engine pulling well from less than 2000rpm. We doubt you’d struggle to get up to motorway speeds, even with the car loaded to the ceiling.

Four-wheel drive helps accelerate the Active Tourer from 0-62mph in a claimed 7.8sec — 0.2sec faster than the lighter front-wheel-drive model. During our test drive on sodden roads, traction was impressive, with the system quick to fire torque rearwards under hard acceleration.

But, more to the point, refinement is good if not outstanding. There is some gruffness under hard acceleration, while you can detect a few tremors coming from the steering wheel at idle. The 2.0 TDI in the VW Golf SV certainly has the BMW engine beaten for noise and vibration.

We’ve no complaints about the eight-speed 'box, though. It shuffles between cogs without fuss under normal driving conditions, yet thumps through the ratios in Sport mode. It's even responsive to manual inputs from the steering wheel-mounted paddles.

Although we doubt many Active Tourers will be driven particularly hard, it’s reassuring to find that BMW has made one of the better-handling MPVs out there. The steering weights up reassuringly, grip levels are high and it resists washing wide at the front well. Our car had adaptive dampers that in their stiffest mode resisted roll well. In Comfort mode, there was more lean, but it was no worse than rivals.

However, even with the dampers in Comfort mode, the ride is on the firm side, even on relatively small 17in wheels. That said, our test car’s run flat tyres wouldn’t have helped.

Inside, the basic architecture is much the same as before, just wrapped in new upholstery and trim pieces. There’s also an attractive new electronic gear selector for automatic models that’s a big improvement on the ugly old lever.

Infotainment is taken care of by the latest generation of BMW’s iDrive system. A 6.5in screen with a rotary dial controller is standard and includes sat-nav. Should you be feeling flush, a larger 8.8in system is an optional extra. This gets a higher-definition screen, is touch-sensitive should you prefer that to the dial, and you get live traffic info and wireless charging for compatible devices. It’s pricey, but there’s no better infotainment system out there.

Front space is generous, while those in the back get a sliding bench that's standard on Sport and Luxury models. It’s not as roomy as similarly priced MPV rivals, but you’ll still get a couple of six-footers back there without any grumbling. The boot is a decent size and a 40/20/40 split-folding rear bench is standard.

Should I buy one?

Lets face it, if you’re after a compact MPV with a premium badge, you’ve got to choose between this or a Mercedes B-Class. Given that the 2 Series Active Tourer has a higher-quality and more attractive interior and is better to drive, it’s an easy one to call.

But it’s not without its flaws. It’s less comfortable than a Golf SV and doesn’t handle quite as keenly as a Ford C-Max. Then there’s the price — it may start in the mid-twenties, but even a basic 220d is a hefty £30,000-plus. Even so, it’s a well-rounded and classy family wagon.

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer 220d xDrive Luxury specification

Where Munich, Germany Price £32,430; On sale now; Engine 1995cc, four-cylinder diesel, turbo; Power 187bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1690kg; Top speed 135mph; 0-62mph 7.8sec; Fuel economy 57.6mpg; CO2 129g/km; Rivals Volkswagen Golf SV, Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Join the debate

Comments
8

18 May 2018

I'm glad we've got the current model with the 8-speed ZF TC auto. I wouldn't fancy this new twin clutch gearbox in the long term.

18 May 2018

" The 2.0 TDI in the VW Golf SV certainly has the BMW engine beaten for noise and vibration". I'm glad you told me that. When you are spending £32,000 on an MPV it's nice to know if the diesel engine is smooth.

18 May 2018
I know MPV's rarely look good but the front lights just look hideous to me. I could never drive this.

18 May 2018

How many have you seen on the Road?, well I may see one or two a Week on my route and there not being driven by Family orientated People, they’re being driven by the retired, no disrespect to them, but I think this BMW could be clunker......

Peter Cavellini.

19 May 2018

[quote=Peter Cavellini]

How many have you seen on the Road?, well I may see one or two a Week on my route and there not being driven by Family orientated People, they’re being driven by the retired, no disrespect to them, but I think this BMW could be clunker......

Maybe it sells better in different locations, but in my area of oxford, and in my work driving across the UK i see lots of the 2 series. There are even 2 in my street, one next door and the longer version just 3 doors down. It does show there is a market for practicality despite the huge rise of the crossover. 

18 May 2018

How many have you seen on the Road?, well I may see one or two a Week on my route and there not being driven by Family orientated People, they’re being driven by the retired, no disrespect to them, but I think this BMW could be clunker......

Peter Cavellini.

18 May 2018

How many have you seen on the Road?, well I may see one or two a Week on my route and there not being driven by Family orientated People, they’re being driven by the retired, no disrespect to them, but I think this BMW could be clunker......

Peter Cavellini.

18 May 2018

Hideous.

Where is BMW ?

 

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Ford Ka+ Active 2018 first drive review hero front
    First Drive
    22 June 2018
    This SUV-inspired makeover for Ford’s city-friendly small car will find its fans, but the Ka+ Active doesn’t set any new benchmarks for the class
  • Suzuki Swift Sport 2018 long-term review hero front
    First Drive
    22 June 2018
    The Japanese hot hatch is all grown up in terms of character, technology and price, but is it still a fun-loving kid at heart? Let’s find out
  • 2018 Mitsubishi Shogun Sport 4
    First Drive
    21 June 2018
    Shogun Sport name returns to the UK, attached to a seven-seat 4x4 that, Mitsubishi hopes, deftly combines practicality, comfort and toughness
  • Ford Fiesta ST-Line 2018 long-term review hero front
    First Drive
    21 June 2018
    Does this version of Britain’s top-selling car have the substance to match its style?
  • Audi Q8 2018 first drive review hero front
    First Drive
    20 June 2018
    Range-topping SUV is short on the styling and performance pizzazz needed to make it a Range Rover Sport-toppling style icon, although it’s an accomplished luxury car