Convincingly practical and refined tall family hatch gains pluggable tech

We’ve just had our first chance to drive a plug-in hybrid variant of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, other versions of which went on sale in the spring.

So far, it has proved it’s a likeable car. Not a traditional BMW in the ‘ultimate driving machine’ sense, but this sensible and predominantly front-driven hatch-meets-kinda-MPV has sold pretty well and is intensely practical. At nearly 4.4m long and 1.6m high, it’s a spacious tall family car with generous roominess and a big boot.

This 225e xDrive variant has a 56-mile (combined cycle) electric-only range, and 108bhp as an EV via a motor that acts solely on the back axle.

Bmw 25xe active tourer 04 front tracking

Then there’s the 1.5-litre petrol engine in the front, driving the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, whose 135bhp gives a system total of 243bhp (because the engine and motor don’t both make their peak outputs at the same time).

The latest system’s EV range is much better than the 32 miles the old 2 Series Active Tourer plug-in offered, and the drive battery can charge at 7.4kW, double the 3.7kW it used to have – so it can fully charge in around 2.5 hours on a home wallbox.

As before, and as elsewhere in plug-in hybrid land, it’s the integration of the various drive systems that’s key to usability and here’s where the 225e scores well. In normal driving, the electric motor assists the petrol engine, filling a torque gap while the engine spools from low revs, assisting performance when you ask for full acceleration, and pitching in to drive on EV power alone whenever it can, even once any initial battery charge is depleted.

The impressive thing is how little you’d know about what it’s up to mechanically, and when it’s doing its various things. The petrol engine is quiet so spins in and out largely unnoticeably around town. And when the battery has no plugged range left, this is still a set-up  that can return an MPG deep into the 50s without too much effort on the driver’s part.

Bmw 25xe active tourer 10 dashboard

Back to top

The rest of the Active Tourer experience is very much as-you-were with other versions in the line-up. The battery and drivetrain mean you lose a little bit of a luggage space, with a taller boot floor and a 380-litre capacity rather than 415 litres. The 2 Series Active Tourer has an automatic tailgate regardless of its derivative, incidentally.

Further forward, the rear seats are spacious and easily accessible through big doors, while the front cabin is airy by trad BMW standards, which would once have gone out of their way to cocoon the driver. Instead, a centre armrest/console has a floating effect, with big storage trays beneath it, and it’s separated from the dash itself.

In some respects, that’s a pity: it means there’s no room, or at least no room has been provided, for physical controls for BMW’s iDrive infotainment system. Instead, that’s all left to a 12.25in touchscreen, including for the climate functions. It's a shame, then, that just when some other manufacturers have started to indicate that they’re backing away from a reliance on touchscreens – and when the physical iDrive controller still present in most BMWs shows them how it should be done – BMW is threatening to ditch the previously present dial. At least the steering wheel retains proper buttons – and there are a few physical shortcut buttons.

To drive, the 2 Series Active Tourer is fit for the role, if not in keeping with the most recent traditions of the badge. It rides comfortably, with good noise isolation. There’s smooth if unengaging steering and decent enough control of the body movements for a tall hatch. It’s stable at speed, too (even in some pretty foul recent conditions with deep puddles and high winds). But this is a sensible rather than exciting car, which, if you come at the 2 Series Active Tourer expecting the kind of drive BMW would traditionally offer, could leave you a bit cold. It’s up to your lifestyle, rather than the model, to supply the dynamics.

Bmw 25xe active tourer 18 side static

Back to top


Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Geordie Throwback 16 November 2022

Needs to be an improvement on the previous 225XE.

Good bits: fun playing with FWD / RWD / AWD. Pleasantly quick. Good app. 

Bad bits: who else builds a car without heated / folding mirrors? Coarse petrol engine. Forgettable looks (if the app didn't say where you've parked it, you'd never find it again). Electric-only range even in optimum conditions is more like 22 miles, and even with a feather-foot. 

Bought it to complement a BMW i3 (far better). Only kept the 225XE 5 months. Changed it for a VW ID4.

Geordie Throwback 16 November 2022

...but with a 25 mile commute I never actually put petrol in it in those 5 months.

ParkerLemke 14 November 2022

They have the incorrect grille on it; wouldn't that belong on a larger BMW?

I believe Autocar overstates the practicality of this car because we are owners of a previous generation Gran Tourer. It's not very spacious. 

Matty_Hall 10 November 2022

2% BIK incorrect!

That's only for full-electric cars.

This one is 8%. Gets your facts straight.