They are, I suppose, Active Tourists. In other words: adventurous, affluent folk who want to sling the bikes/pets/kids/tent into the back of a capacious, comfortable vehicle and head to the chocolate-box scenery.
I'm not convinced many of those people care as much about whether their car drives its front wheels, rear wheels or maybe just the near-side ones except on Sundays. They want a tidy car created by an aspirational brand they recognise.
Viewed purely as a commercial decision, then, there can be little argument with BMW's desire to grow its presence in small-premium vehicle markets.
Herbert Diess, BMW's development chief, says: "We expect the premium segment to grow strongly over the next ten years, especially within the smaller vehicle classes.
"With our new models we are aiming for a share in this development. Today, there are customers who really would like to drive a BMW, but we still do not have an appropriate model for them. So the BMW 2-series Active Tourer will open up new target groups for BMW."
Having driven the 218d Active Tourer, I'm not sure I swallow the manufacturer's party line about the 2-series Active Tourer "standing for driving pleasure" like any other BMW. It's very good at what it does, but I can't imagine the chaps at M division are salivating at the prospect of fettling a cooking version. Although they probably enjoy a challenge.
Then again, there's a more compelling argument for front-wheel drive. Diess says: "Front-wheel drive in this vehicle class provides conceptual advantages thanks to the transverse front-mounted engine. For example, in the interior we are able to offer a raised seating position, a large amount of space with a luggage compartment capacity of up to 1510 litres."
Will BMW's new front-wheel-drive strategy tarnish the sheen of the rear-drive 'ultimate driving machines'?
Perhaps for some enthusiasts it will. However, as with Porsche's decision to build the original Cayenne in the early 2000s, the 2-series Active Tourer is likely to turn a tidy profit for BMW – cash that can be ploughed back into future development of the rear-drive performance cars that we know and love.