The First 2 Series Active Tourer Reviews Are In

We’ve wondered for awhile if the new front wheel drive 2 Series would be a brand killer or a master stroke. Now that the first two reviews are in (with more coming by the hour) we’re a little closer at understanding what the answer might be.

Car and Driver:

Even though the Active Tourer’s lineup will include a range of models with both diesel and gasoline engines, BMW is sending just the top-of-the-line 225i to the U.S. It comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo and eight-speed automatic. Rated at 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, it is the most powerful car in the segment, such as it is. It just doesn’t feel that way. The power rush is strong, but the engine tone is subdued; the overall noise level is so low that we constantly underestimated the speeds driven, especially those driven in a straight line. The Aisin-supplied automatic is unobtrusive, but when using manual mode, less gears would be more. Here’s a typical situation: You want to get to a lower gear for a passing maneuver or an upcoming corner. But the transmission has put you in seventh or eighth. It takes way too many downshifts with marginal rev changes to actually get the engine where you want it to be.

The electromechanical power steering is precise, but effort is a bit on the heavy side. About all we can say about the handling is that it’s fine—like a tall Mini, in fact—although enthusiasts will call for a firmer ride. Indeed, this car’s ride/handling balance is skewed to the comfort side, and we found the car easier to unsettle than one of BMW’s rear-drivers. The Active Tourer’s higher center of gravity doesn’t help here.



In truth, this 218d test car – which we drove on the roads around Innsbruck, Austria – came up short in a number of areas. The first failing came apparent from the moment we rolled down the road. At lower speeds, a rush of road noise was being transmitted up through the car’s front structure from the front wheels. That said, the test car rolled on 225/45 R18s, which is a somewhat aggressive tyre.

The other failing with this particular model was the gearshift. While the stick is sportingly short and short-throw, its action across the gate is surprisingly notchy. The detent between first and reverse – which are next to each other – was also awkward and it needed a very firm shove to get it into reverse gear.

Finally, this Active Tourer’s high-speed refinement is not all it could be. At motorway speeds, the swirl of wind noise around the windscreen pillars and roof rails was unexpected.

On the road, the car is fundamentally sound but perhaps lacks the fluidity of the best front-drive rivals.

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  • Dr Obnxs

    I think the car will underwhelm the press, but sell just fine. The journalist are all subconsciously comparing it to some M variant, and will find fit falls short. The buyers will love it because they’re not looking for an M5 is 2-series clothing, but rather a practical, small sporty car with a Rondel on it. As long as it’s funnish to drive, and gets good gas mileage, all will be fine.

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      I was just at the Regensburg factory- they have built a new line for the 2 AT and its variants which will come online in the fall once production begins in earnest. Having seen this thing in the flesh- it looks like a true B Class competitor and will do well with conquest sales, getting those into the Roundel as it were…

      MY BIGGEST CONCERN: I have seen the 7 passenger version- it is a MINIVAN; this is very worrisome. When the X5 came to market it was sacrilege but it helped save the brand and create a new form of SUV, unibody with car like undertones rather than body on frame trucks.

      The MINIVAN craze has come and gone, it is old news and is a compromise in every way imaginable, it does not portray any semblance on sporty or sell to those looking for luxury. MB tried the un-minivan minivan in the R Class; that was a FAIL, this may be one in the same. What BMW is trying to do with the 2AT is save MINI; maybe they should just cut the loses and move on and realize that when they launched the one trick pony they should have seen that market saturation would happen and that variants would not be as successful- history seems to be repeating itself.

      In Europe the 2AT 5 passenger will sell well, just like similar offerings from everyone else. I agree with BMW not offering a 1 Series sedan, as it has become obvious here in Germany that the A Class at A3 sedan offerings are robbing sales from their more expensive siblings which will hurt the bottom line.

      What should BMW do? I think they let the US keep the models they have, not introduce the 2AT and focus some more energy on building cars for China and possibly spinning some of the still relevant but aging chassis into another brand sold at MINI dealers… It works for VW.

      • Herr26

        If anything the Gran Tourer is the reply to a much asked question from customers within the compact segment. And that is extra passenger flexibility at a much more accessible price than the current only BMW 7Seater the X5. Customers that need the extra flexibility will be highly impressed with the seven seaters versatility and packaging.

        The compact segment , especially crossovers continue to grow globally. Active Tourer has become a reality because of premium cars decimating volume cars and the continued erosion of segments in favour of crossovers that perform a wide range of functions.

        The issue regarding BMW in this segment is that competition is great and expansive , everybody is trying to achieve market share. And this is where the biggest compromise – FWD comes into play, BMW had to adapt to be competitive here. If continued to utilise RWD there will be a loss within packaging which would then disinterest customers looking for that particular purpose.

        Active Tourer is progress because the customer has progressed. They are looking for more from their vehicles in this segment. It is a simple case of adapting to the ever increasing demands of the market and the customer.

        It will not be the last Seven seater BMW as the forthcoming X1 will also receive an additional seven seater model. Originally intended for China. The car will be offered on several markets. The next X3 although RWD will also offer a seven seater model to sit alongside the seven seat X5 and the X7 which will also offer seating for seven or a more exclusive five or four seat compartment.

        The addition of seven seaters allow further expansion of the X models, splitting into three specific lines – Standard – Li – Sport Activity Coupe. Its further proof of the continuous global market and customer demand for SUVs which shows no sign of abating.