The Active Tourer is practical and offers BMW style but will the car be enough to excite SUV buyers? asks Geraldine Herbert
What is it? After nine years, for me, at the primary school gates, my last child has left and now he is just weeks away from “big school” where he joins his older brother in September. I will miss the hugs at the gate and the friendships formed but not so much the last-minute text requests to send my child dressed in something yellow and the endless projects that seemed to be given only to parents.
Nearly a decade on, so much has changed, including the cars that gather outside the school. In 2013, diesel powered almost threequarters of the new cars we bought, with saloons and multipurpose vehicles (MPVs) the family cars of choice. But over time families stopped buying MPVs and makers stopped selling them. To be fair, with a few notable exceptions, these were generally dull vehicles that favoured more space for people and luggage over performance and power.
But not all carmakers abandoned the humble MPV and amid BMW’s line-up of sports cars and performance models lurks a very practical family car, the 2 series Active Tourer and, as if in some primary-school time-warp, our test car this week was the BMW 218d M Sport Active Tourer, a five-seater diesel MPV
Is it a looker? At first glance, the Active Tourer is smart in a pleasantly understated way. It’s also larger than the car it replaces with an extra 32mm in length, 24mm in width, and 21mm in height. Inside, this means there’s enough room for five grown-ups with the added benefit that those in the back have lots of head- and knee-room.
What’s the interior like? The cabin has also been completely redesigned and is comfortable and classy. A new iDrive system debuts and you interact with it via a 10.25in information touchscreen to select your options. The seats have also been improved to provide long-distance comfort with enhanced lateral support.
Boot space is a good 470 litres; when those rear seats aren’t being used, it extends to 1,455 litres. One minor criticism, though, is it is not hugely spacious in comparison to other cars and doesn’t offer the flexible seating arrangements and space akin to a removal van that the boxy MPVs of old did.
What does it drive like? On the road, it feels like a BMW and while it’s not quite the “ultimate driving machine”, BMW drivers will not be let down. Good to drive, refined and with plenty of “oomph”, it is also smooth and soaks up the bumps nicely.
What are my options? Buyers can also choose petrol and plug-in hybrid models and three trim levels Sport, Luxury and M Sport specification. Sport includes 17-inch alloy wheels, Sport seats with anthracite cloth upholstery, LED headlights, high-gloss Shadowline exterior trim, and Parking Assistance with reversing camera and Park Distance Control as standard. Trade up to Luxury to gain a range of goodies inlcuding 17-inch V-Spoke alloy wheels, Aluminium exterior trim, Vernasca leather upholstery, and heated front seats. The M Sport package introduces a distinctive front apron design, 18-inch Bi-colour alloy wheels, Adaptive M Sport suspension, Adaptive LED headlights, folding exterior mirrors, Sport seats with Alcantara/Sensatec upholstery, Luxury Instrument Panel, heated seats, Comfort Access, and wireless charging.
How safe is it? There is a huge array of safety features as standard including a large number of airbags are featured and electronic stability and traction control systems.
Will it break the bank? In a market where SUVs and crossovers dominate there are few direct competitors to BMW’s MPV but rivals include the Mercedes B-Class (€42,650) and larger seven-seaters such as the Dacia Jogger (€24,590). Pricing for the Active Tourer range starts from €42,985. Our test car came with extensive options, bringing it to €49,717.
Verdict? Today’s buyers may be snubbing people carriers but I have to admit the charms of a practical family car are hard to ignore. The Active Tourer is small enough to be parked just about anywhere while the versatile interior will appeal with good space and storage areas throughout. It’s proof that the car industry can offer refreshing alternatives to SUVs, it’s just a pity they don’t do it more often?
Why you’ll buy one? Smart interior, Spacious,
Why you won’t? Pricey options
BMW 218d M Sport Active Tourer
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel
Co2/Motor Tax: 145g/km/€470
Economy: 4.8-5.3 litres/100km
14th August 2022