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The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer saw BMW for the first time expand its portfolio to introduce front-wheel-drive and three cylinder engines in the model line-up.

Following on from the coupé as the second member of the new BMW 2 Series range, the Active Tourer combines dynamism, style, elegance and practicality in one cleverly packaged car.

From the low-rise double kidney grille, which is positioned lower than the headlights, to the steeply raked windscreen and clearly defined and sculpted bonnet, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer has a low-slung, sporty appearance, along with an impressive drag coefficient of just 0.26.

The use of high-tensile and ultra-high-tensile multi-phase steels makes the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer stiffer, safer and lighter.

New lightweight turbocharged engines with three and four cylinders, a comprehensive package of BMW EfficientDynamics measures and the extensive connectivity provided by BMW ConnectedDrive are all elements in a driving experience that allows sporty performance combined with efficiency.

This 218i is currently the lowest derivate available represents the bottom rung of the Active Tourer model ladder for now, but in practice offers benefits over the more expensive 218d (four cylinder diesel).

Emitting a clean115g/km of CO2, the 218i attracts an encouragingly low company car tax, along with a pleasing balance of performance, refinement and economy (57.6mpg). The engine feels flexible and linear in its power delivery – the strongest performance available between 3000 and 5000rpm. 0-62mph takes 9.2sec, with a top speed of 127mph. The six-speed manual gearbox isn’t the slickest around though and can feel a bit springy, but is precise enough in its changes.

For an MPV, the 2 series Active Tourer feels very fleet of foot, changing direction with precision and composure. This is down to the rigid chassis and combination of advanced single-joint spring-strut front axle and multi-link rear axle. Steering feel and accuracy also impresses. The ride is a bit of a mixed bag, being slightly unsettled at low speeds and on bumpy roads, although at higher speeds it’s taught yet pliant and absorbs pot holes and speed humps very well.

Refinement is also good with only road noise being an issue on very coarse road surfaces.

Driver and front passenger enjoy a higher seating position than in a saloon or hatchback, giving a commanding view of the road, as well as making it easier to get in and out. The Active Tourer’s thin windscreen pillars and low window line also afford good all-round visibility.

There’s plenty of adjustment to the driving position, so it’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel and the dashboard and switchgear layout is simple and intuitive to use.

Despite the compact exterior dimensions there’s room for five occupants - and those up front have copious amounts space to enjoy - as do rear passengers. The rear seatbacks can also be tilted, and slide fore and aft in a 60/40 configuration to maximise either passenger or boot space. The boot (468 litres seats up / 1,510 litres seats down) isn’t as large as those of many rivals, but it’s a practical square shape, and has a low, wide opening for easy access, along with a handy multifunction tray.

Entry-level SE trim offers great overall value. It’s equipped with dual-zone climate control, 16-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, a USB connection, Bluetooth, DAB radio and automatic lights and wipers as standard. Sport models add 17-inch wheels, sports seats and sportier exterior looks, while Luxury spec adds leather upholstery. Top-of-the-range M Sport cars get 18-inch alloys, a more overtly sporty bodykit and firmer M Sport suspension.

Verdict

The 2 Series Active Tourer is definitely worth considering if you need more space than a family hatchback but still demand a car that’s involving to drive. The new BMW also offers good build quality, generous equipment levels and affordable running costs and to boot.

Tech spec

BMW 218i SE Active Tourer 

Price £23,310; 0-62mph 9.2sec; Top speed 127mph; Economy 57.6mpg; CO2 115g/km; Kerbweight 1395kg; Engine 3cyls, 1499cc, turbocharged petrol; Power 134bhp at 4400-6000rpm; Torque 162lb ft at 1250-4300rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual