Hubert Burda Media

Two for the Road

Versatility, practicality and efficiency are traits that we want in a family car and BMW's 2 Series Active Tourer delivers

Two for the Road

Smooth. Real smooth.

I'm talking about the drive of the BMW 218i Active Tourer, BMW's latest multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), which also happens to also be the German automaker's first front-wheel-drive. Sure, it drives differently from other Bimmers in the market (which are either rear- or four-wheel-drives), but that's not to say that it's a bad thing. In fact, it feels steady, safe — attributes that the brand is known for.

At about 4.3-m long and 1.8-m wide, this mini-MPV is ideal for manoeuvring through our little city. It offers enough space for all one needs for the day's activity but at lightly above 1.5-m tall, the car is at a good height so my passengers and I need not clamber up the vehicle.

BMW's newest addition to its 2 Series family has been designed with young families in mind. Case in point: The car is powered by a three-cylinder engine that ensures a very pleasant ride, having undergone extensive fine-tuning for increased stability and comfort. Also, the newly developed chassis has also been reworked to deliver impressive handling stability and soft suspension. Bumps on the road don't pose an issue to anyone on board — great for a long road trip to visit our neighbours up north.

It's not just about having an enjoyable car ride without having to endure jolts due to uneven surfaces. Inside, the plush interiors are also luxuriously spacious, thanks to a long wheelbase of 2.67m and a raised roofline. This means there is sufficient seating space with head, shoulder and legroom at the rear so all passengers can travel in style and, more importantly, comfort.

And that's not all that's sufficient.

The 218i also delivers practicality and adaptability. At the back, the Active Tourer has been fitted with 468L of boot space that's ideal to pack everyone's bags in. And on days you require more space and flexibility (especially those with an active lifestyle), the snap of the buttons on the side of the rear seats extends the boot space to 1,510L to transport all that equipment (or clutter, for that matter).

What the Active Tourer lacks is power. Unlike most of the new BMWs that come with an eight-speed automatic transmission, this one is equipped with the six-speed instead. As such, its acceleration rate is at 9.2 seconds, slower than its closest competitor, the Mercedes Benz B-Class car, the B200, which hits 8.4 seconds. It also only allows the car to get up to 205kph while the Merc boasts a top speed of 220kph. That being said, surely a car that's built for the family surely isn't one you'd want to speed down the highway with.

Unfortunately, this Bimmer also loses out to the Merc with regards to something that is, quite frankly, rather important to many car buyers — fuel efficiency. The former has a consumption rate of 5.2L per 100km while the latter boasts 6.9L, despite it having a bigger engine capacity at almost 1,600cc. So, as much as the Active Tourer is a comfortable and family-friendly drive, the B200 appears to offer more bang for its buck.

That doesn't discount that for BMW's first foray into the front-wheel-drive MPV scene, it's done a pretty admirable job. Surely, car enthusiasts can look forward to seeing something better from the car marque in the near future.

BMW 218i Active Tourer

Engine: 1,499cc three-cylinder, four-valve BMW TwinPower Turbo technology
Transmission: Six-speed manual with optional Steptronic
Max power: 100kW @ 4,500-6,000rpm
Max torque: 220Nm @ 1,250rpm
Max speed: 205kph
Acceleration: 0-100kph in 9.2 seconds
Combined fuel consumption: 5.2L per 100km
CO2 emission: 122g/km
Kerb weight: 1,320kg