Laugh all you want, but the thought of having a front-wheel-drive BMW MPV might actually be one of the brightest ideas to come out of Munich in the last few years. Because lets face it, not everyone who buys a Bimmer today is looking for the 'ultimate rear-wheel-drive machine'.
Meet the new (and very first) 2 Series Active Tourer, now available in the Philippines through Asian Carmakers Corporation (ACC).
Mind you, this MPV shares nothing in common with the rather-sporty 2 Series coupe... well, except for the badge. But once you get past BMW's odd naming scheme, it's easy to see how the Germans came up with something that looks and drives like this. It was designed and built with modern families in mind, practical ones who needs the spaciousness and versatility of an MPV, but still want the 'premium' feel of a BMW. And to free up some space inside, they shoved the entire driveline upfront to rid of the rather bulky driveline tunnel of a RWD.
If you're asking why don't people just get a 3 Series Touring or an X1, well it's because they don't want to.
Although the 2 Series Active Tourer's silhouette looks nothing like other BMWs, it still wears the brand's identity and design cues. That includes the sexy contours, double kidney grille, and twin LED headlamps. Or, you can simply think of it as a squashed up BMW – taller, shorter, and a bit chubbier.
It also shares a lot of BMW-esque cues on the interior. From the instrument cluster, steering wheel, dashboard, and most important of all, the 8.8-inch LCD display and multimedia system with iDrive. So in reality, you're not missing out on any luxuries enjoyed by the other Bimmers in the line-up.
This MPV also lacks a rear differential, which means the middle rear seat passenger gets a lot more legroom, making it a true 5-seater. And with the rear seats folded flat, the 2 Series Active Tourer can accommodate as much as 1,510L of lugggage. In comparison, the 3 Series Touring fits 10L less, while the X1 is even smaller by 160L.
We guess switching to FWD does make sense after all.
The word 'Active' in 'Active Tourer', however, does not reflect what resides under the hood. Because the 218i we're getting locally relies on the base 1.5L 3-cylinder gasoline engine with TwinPower Turbo Technology derived from the 3rd generation MINI. That gives it a maximum of 136 hp and 220 Nm of torque under the right pedal, which are not bad numbers, but we sorta wanted a bit more from a BMW.
It may get 19.2 km/L combined, but the sprint from 0 to 100 km/h takes 9.2 seconds even with its 6-speed Steptronic auto slushbox.
C'mon BMW, it's already a FWD. You could at least give us more power to play with.
Still, the 2 Series Active Tourer manages to fill a hole in BMW's line-up, which is a market that craves for a luxurious family car priced at P2.95 million. Period. It's not designed to be sporty, break records, or go off road. Because this BMW MPV is simply meant to be practical. Purists might fuss over the fact that it doesn't have RWD, but we really don't think anyone will bring a 2 Series Active Tourer to trackdays anyway.