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IMG_3231The 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.


Tech specs

Mod­el reviewed: BMW 218i Act­ive Tourer

Price: From $51,900 (M Sport review mod­el $57,000)

Fuel eco­nomy: 4.31 litres/100km.[/danger]

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