The first passenger we put in the rear seats of the new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer promptly fell asleep before we cleared Ngauranga Gorge. “This is good,” I thought. “Peace and quiet all the way to Waikanae.” On the return journey, passenger 1 swapped places with passenger 2, meaning the 12-year-old could play with the “infotainment” system from the front seat and his mother took her turn in the rear where, guess what, she, too, promptly fell asleep.
This, I should make clear as early as possible in this review, is a very good outcome. The Active Tourer is a new departure for BMW — a family vehicle with a similar silhouette to an SUV but without all the bulk. It doesn’t pretend to be a pretend off-roader but it has a more pleasing aspect than a traditional station wagon. Even in the very effective Economy mode, the ride remains as comfortable as Wellington’s dodgy roads will allow, and both passengers (and the driver for that matter) reported that it was easier to get in and out of than any of the review cars we have borrowed over the last few months.
There are two models available in New Zealand, a 218d 2.0‑litre diesel and the 218i that we drove. The ‘i’ model may have only a Corolla-sized 1.5‑litre three-cylinder engine with a six-speed Steptronic transmission, but it definitely drives like a BMW (aided considerably by the optional ‘M’ Sport features on the review model) — the engineers that program BMW’s Sport mode have worked their magic yet again. The only improvement I can imagine would be the addition of a battery for further hybrid-style energy saving.
We could totally imagine toting around, I don’t know, a drum kit or an entire soccer team’s worth of gear in a rear compartment that seemed to keep getting bigger with every button pushed or flap lifted. The sill is low too, making it easier to get stuff in and out than with a giant SUV.
My family and I have been reviewing motors here for a few months and this is the first model that we all felt we could easily live with on a day-to-day basis — and not just because it is the most affordable car we’ve driven. It’s the first car that seemed to adapt itself effortlessly to every real-life situation we could throw at it.[danger]
Model reviewed: BMW 218i Active Tourer
Price: From $51,900 (M Sport review model $57,000)
Fuel economy: 4.31 litres/100km.[/danger]