Everyone who thinks BMW should only be building great-handling, rear-wheel drive two- and four-door cars with great brakes and powerful, naturally aspirated motors might want to leave the room for a few minutes.
The plain fact is that to stay competitive and profitable in a global automotive market, BMW is building smaller front-wheel-drive cars with lots of doors and lots of seats and little—but still powerful—turbocharged engines. The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is one such vehicle. BMW’s first front-wheel drive vehicle will be in dealer showrooms later this year as a 2016 model. Not U.S. dealer showrooms, though. Not for a while. The old-school BMW purists can breathe a little easier—for now.
The 2 Series Active Tourer will be built on BMW’s UKL1 platform and will share parts with other BMW Group vehicles, including the new Mini. That’s not surprising, since BMW earlier this year announced that they would do more and more parts sharing across model lines where it makes sense.
The 2 Series Active Tourers that first go on sale in Europe and other non-U.S. markets will have five seats. However, in the United States, BMW’s second largest market, Americans like their MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles) with more seats. BMW appears to be testing a seven-seat version, so perhaps we will eventually see that here.
Analysts predict that BMW may have a couple of problems in selling the 2 Series Active Tourer in the U.S. First, they may be nervous that the Active Tourer might dilute BMW’s brand image in America. (You can hear the old-school purists nodding in agreement now.) Second is that there are already a lot of popular MPVs (translation: minivans) in the U.S. and it might not be an easy thing to carve out a premium niche in that market.
Nevertheless, BMW is testing what appears to be a seven-seat 2 Series Active Tourer. You can watch it going nuts at the Nürburgring in the video below.
In this video, the vehicle looks pretty nimble and even tossable. It looked for a moment like the inside front wheel came up off the track for a bit in one left-hander—just like a real BMW.—Scott Blazey
[Video and screen shots courtesy of Touriclips, autoevolution.com]