First unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in 2012, BMW's concept Active Tourer became the BMW Series 2 Active Tourer. Since its official launch in 2014, it has racked up more than 400,000 sales globally, impressive by any standard, and, as such, BMW have launched the second generation.
While the subcompact executive multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) market has shown signs of decline over the last few years, mostly due to the popularity of SUVs and crossovers, BMW are clearly committed and determined to maintain a presence. The new Active Tourer remains a curious offering in the BMW line-up, though, admittedly, the second-generation model does resemble a modern crossover, which helps to cleverly combine the MPV and crossover sectors.
The Active Tourer is completely new, with a new chassis, powertrains, hybrid capabilities and showcasing the latest in BMW technology. A bigger, striking octagonal kidney grille, streamlined looks, sleeker LED headlights, flush-fitting door handles and slimmer C-pillars all help make the car look more dynamic than its predecessor. It's available with a choice of petrol and diesel powertrains, as well as a range of PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle).
The second-generation Active Tourer has also grown in size from its predecessor – it’s wider, taller and has a longer wheelbase. Despite this, there won't be an option of a seven-seater, it'll purely be offered as a five-seater – although it’s a practical five-seater with plenty of space front and rear. Up front, there's a newly designed 'cut-away' centre console, which helps make it feel airy and spacious. Rear seats have slide controls for more legroom, which offers a relaxing place to spend a long journey.
As well as offering practical space for driver and passengers, the new Active Tourer provides 406 litres of boot space, expanding to 1,455 litres when the rear seats are folded down.
With the new model comes a refreshed cabin. There's a vast difference inside the Active Tourer, with the black plastic of old being replaced with smoother and solid materials, as well as softer plastics with a better finish – all while retaining the high-build quality. The seating is more comfortable which helps provide a commanding driving position with good visibility.
The new Active Tourer utilises the existing front-wheel drive platform of the current 1 Series and 2 Series Gran Coupé and is accompanied by a seven-speed Steptronic dual-clutch automatic transmission, which offers a refined drive with mature characteristics, a smooth performance and strong fuel economy.
All Active Tourer's now come with BMW's latest curved infotainment display from the iX flagship, which comprises of two screens spanning across the dash – a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel and a 10.7-inch central display. The latest software provides sharp graphics, with menus and widgets fairly easy to navigate. One big difference from the previous model is that BMW have removed the rotary selector, which now means most functions are now touchscreen only. This can be a little fidgety at first, such as finding heated seats or trip data, but once you get the hang of it, it's easy to operate.
On top of that, there's a new wireless charging pad at the bottom of the centre console, where smartphones now stand up to charge.
There are three trim levels: Sport, Luxury and M Sport. Sport models offer LED headlights, parking assistant, 17-inch alloys, sliding rear seats and a reversing camera with parking sensors. Luxury trim adds leather upholstery, aluminium exterior trim and fine wood interior cabin trim, 17-inch bicolour V-spoke alloys and heated front seats. M Sport comes with adaptive LED headlights, keyless entry, comfort access, body kit, 18-inch M alloys, adaptive suspension and Alcantara/Sensatec upholstery. Optional packages add a little more tech, driving assistance functions and some extra features.
There are two non-metallic and nine metallic paint finishes available.
On the road, the new Series 2 Active Tourer offers a quiet, comfortable and refined drive. Road and wind noise are minimal, grip is good, the brakes are precise, and the steering is sharp, if a little light.
There are five powertrains available across the range: a 2.0-litre diesel, returning approx 54mpg, with 150hp and CO2 emissions combined of 125-138g/km; and two petrol offerings, a 1.5-litre turbo petrol and a 2.0-litre turbo petrol which are also both fitted with a 48-volt mild-hybrid unit which enables the car to cut the engine when coasting to a stop and restart to save fuel. The mild hybrid provides an extra 19bhp thanks to an e-motor integrated into the gearbox. The introduction of engine-off coasting and predictive regeneration help return 43-47mpg, 170hp and 218hp respectively, 0-62mph in 7 seconds and CO2 emissions combined 133-148g/km.
There are no fully electric models on offer as yet, however, there are two plug-in petrol hybrid models, which are expected to grab almost half the sales; while the old model delivered 32 miles of battery power, the new 225e and 230e xDrive models will be able to deliver up to an additional 56 miles. With the battery now underneath the floor, there's now more space available inside the cabin. The PHEV models will also be able to charge twice as quick as before. The petrol-electric combined output is 245hp and 326hp respectively, with 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds.
The engines across the range are responsive, as is acceleration and the driving dynamics are better than the previous model. Suspension is slightly firmer on the M Sport but still controlled. Throughout the range, the model offers a better ride, handling and insulation than its predecessor.
Prices for the new Active Tourer start from £33,860 or £1,499 deposit with £499 per month.
The new Series 2 Active Tourer is a well-built, practical MPV/crossover, with well-executed mild hybrids on offer. With greater comfort, build quality and excellent tech, it will appeal to families and drivers alike.