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.