There are three suspension specifications offered on the car (normal, M Sport and adaptively damped) and three power steering configurations (normal, Servotronic variable assistance and a quicker variable-ratio system).
On standard springs, adaptive dampers, Servotronic steering and sensible 17-inch wheels, the 2 Series has the breadth of dynamic ability that cars like this need to cope with day-to-day family life – and to do it with aplomb.
There may be a smidgen too much steering weight for the stereotypical MPV driver at times, but there’s certainly fine response and precision that more than make up for it.
Grip is as tenacious as it needs to be – high enough that you can drive the 2 Series as hard as you would any five-door diesel hatchback on the road without ever really being made aware that you’re in an MPV.
Body control is unusually stout for something so upright. If it weren’t a BMW, you’d argue that the car could afford to roll a little more in corners and be a bit less fussy for head toss and other high-frequency body disturbances over a patchy surface. Still, the ride is quiet and fairly supple in town and deals with potholes well.
Only experience will tell if the same is true of the car in other states of tune, but the 2 Series as tested does a better job of mixing compliance with dynamism than most compact MPVs. It’s a vastly more rounded drive than the stiff-legged B-Class, but whether it beats a Ford C-Max or Golf SV is less clear cut.
There’s much to admire about the way that the Active Tourer handles in extremis. This may be the first attempt at a BMW-badged front-drive hatchback, but the car has laudable balance and is at once adjustable, predictable and well resolved as you run beyond the grip level of its tyres.
The risk that BMW has taken here is by making a high-sided car stiffer, grippier and more agile than the average. Inevitably, those facets make the car break away more quickly when its rear tyres run out of lateral purchase, which they will do under certain circumstances, with the stability control switched off.
BMW hasn’t set up this car with a safety-first bias for understeer, and its DSC can be fully deactivated — so in slippery conditions it can be a lively handling prospect. But leave the electronics on and it’s as safe and secure as they come.