This is big news. BMW has been working on smoothly transitioning its lower-range models to a new front-drive setup. Why? It is simply much better for packaging and cost-to-build reasons.
Furthermore, buyers who might snap up a BMW at Ford prices might not really mind which wheels take more of the drive energy. Especially if there is extra room in back for strollers, child seats and all.
THe UK debut of the 218i, 218d and 225i Active Tourers previews how these cars may ultimately look if they come to America. Will they be soggy-to-drive? No.
BMW has proven itself very adept at front-drive handling setups over the last 15 years of MINI models.
Please enjoy these images of this step-change for BMW, courtesy of some secret admirers in the UK.
Just kidding -- there are no secrets among friends. Thanks Headlineauto.co.uk!
As a final note: if you and your spouse really go-to-town today for Valentines, the 2 series Active Tourer will be ready to drive home your new reason-for-living ... in about nine months time.
Official details below from BMW UK.
14 February 2014
The new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer
The new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer sees 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.
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 and incredible efficiency.
Measuring just 4,342mm long (only marginally longer than a BMW 1 Series), 1,800mm wide and 1,555mm in height, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer combines compact dimensions on the outside with a spacious feel on the inside, making it perfectly suited to the increasing challenges of urban mobility.
Model Power (hp) Torque (Nm) 0 - 62mph (seconds) Top speed (mph) Combined (mpg) CO2 emissions (g/km) BMW 218i SE 136 220 9.3 124 57.6 115 BMW 218d SE 150 330 8.9 127 68.9 109 All figures are provisional and have not yet been officially confirmed. The estimated fuel consumption figures have been calculated as per the ECE test cycle and may vary depending on driving style and conditions.
Stylish design, premium cabin and innovative packaging
Practical shouldn't mean prosaic: while the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is uniquely versatile it is also distinctively styled. From the low-rise double kidney grille, which is positioned lower than the headlights, a feature normally only found on BMW coupés, to the steeply raked windscreen and clearly defined and sculpted bonnet, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer has a low-slung, sporty appearance.
Balance, as always in a BMW, is key and the short overhangs are classic BMW styling cues while the long wheelbase, wedge profile, L-shaped rear lights, crisp contours and eye-catching swage lines give the car great impact and athletic appearance.
The tailgate, with its low sill and wide aperture, gives easy access to the load compartment, while vertical air-deflecting aeroblades on either side of the rear window along with a rear spoiler add style while contributing to impressive aerodynamic efficiency. The dynamic look is even carried over to the rear windscreen wiper, which at rest remains hidden inside the rear spoiler. The result is that the new BMW 218i Active Tourer has a drag coefficient of just 0.26.
Despite the compact exterior dimensions, the interior is light and surprisingly spacious, with comfortable seating for five people. A large glass area ensures the cabin is light and airy throughout - an effect further enhanced by the optional panoramic roof and by the A-pillar triangle window, both of which also improve all-round visibility.
The horizontally structured, layered styling of the instrument panel and door panels gives the interior an elegant, light-touch feel and emphasises the sense of spaciousness. At the same time the typical BMW driver-centric design of the cockpit underlines the sporty character of the new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer.
Driver and front passenger also enjoy a far higher seating position than in a saloon giving commanding all-round view as well as making it easier to get in and out.
Despite the compact exterior length, the new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer offers luxury-class legroom, particularly in the rear, and a wealth of features for those with active lifestyles, or needing to transport families.
The versatile luggage compartment's capacity can be enlarged from 468 to 1,510 litres, with a flat loading floor, and the 40:20:40 split-folding rear backrest fitted as standard exemplify this model's excellent everyday practicality. Flexibility is further enhanced by a sliding rear seat, allowing either knee room or luggage space to be increased as required, and its backrest can be adjusted to recline for the three rear seats or sat more upright for extra luggage space.
Access to the luggage compartment is easy thanks to the large, broad, wide-opening tailgate, which also features push button automatic opening and closing, or the Smart-Opener function where a quick flick of the foot sets it in motion.
One particularly clever touch is the foldable boot floor that conceals a storage compartment with a handy multifunction tray. Lashing points and bag hooks, one on either side of the rear compartment, are further features which add to the practicality of the boot space.
Handling: comfortable ride with agile handling
For the first time BMW has introduced front-wheel-drive into its model range, but in order to do so, and retain the sporty characteristics necessary in every one of its cars, it chose to start with a blank sheet of paper.
The result is a new, state-of-the-art, front-wheel-drive system on the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer that balances comfort and agility - both key requirements of customers in the segment, but rarely met in other vehicles.
The chassis has been newly developed, with a long wheelbase and wide track (2,670mm and a front and rear track width of 1,561mm and 1,562mm respectively), reduced-friction steering system, a torsionally very stiff, lightweight body with short overhangs, and a low centre of gravity.
At the core of the chassis is the highly advanced single-joint spring-strut front axle. Lightweight, very stiff and with perfect calibration, it offers excellent directional control, largely torque-steer-free steering and pliancy for excellent ride comfort.
The multi-link rear axle, too, has been newly developed and makes an important contribution to the excellent driving dynamics.
With the optional electronically controlled dampers, the chassis characteristics can be adjusted to different driving situations with a choice of two different settings, making for even further improved ride comfort and driving dynamics. Optional Variable Sports Steering and the introduction of M Sport models from later in 2014 will add to the sporty handling and character of the car.
Two new engines: innovative three-cylinder petrol and lightweight diesel
The new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer has innovative all-new transverse engines, perfectly matched to the space-efficient concept of the car.
The new BMW 218i Active Tourer is powered by an all-new three-cylinder engine. This ultra-low-friction, all-aluminium core engine is part of a newly developed modular family comprising light weight, high-performance and fuel-efficiency, equipped with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. The result is CO2 emissions of only 115g/km, yet peak power of 136hp.
With turbocharging, direct petrol injection, double-Vanos variable camshaft timing and the longer firing intervals of the three-cylinders, it is possible to precisely match the engine cycle to varying power requirements. As a result, throttle response is sharp, and the engine develops large amounts of torque from only slightly above idling. Peak torque of 220Nm is reached at only 1,250rpm, and sustained all the way until 4,300rpm.
Further advantages of this lightweight, compact three-cylinder engine are its vibration characteristics. The small amounts of engine roll torque are completely eliminated by a balancer shaft, while the combination of a dual-mass flywheel and a centrifugal pendulum absorber, unusual in this power class, eliminate irregular running, ensuring refinement even at the low end of the engine speed range.
Completing the two engine line-up at launch is a new four-cylinder diesel engine in the BMW 218d Active Tourer.
Turbocharged and common rail direct-injected, optimised performance with optimised efficiency see CO2 emissions as low as 109g/km, power of 150hp and a peak torque of 330Nm.
A new diesel engine, it has a friction-reduced core engine, improved thermodynamics and injection pressures of up to 2,000 bar. This makes the engine a natural choice for all drivers who want to combine dynamic power with superior fuel efficiency. This model, too, offers the refinement benefits of a dual-mass flywheel with centrifugal pendulum absorber.
In the UK, the higher-power 225i will go on sale with xDrive four-wheel-drive from November, alongside further models: BMW 220i, 216d, 220d and 220d xDrive Active Tourer.
The standard transmission is a newly developed six-speed manual unit. Optionally, in conjunction with the three-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission can be specified.
For the four-cylinder engine, a new eight-speed automatic transmission has been developed, which is specially adapted to take account of the front-wheel-drive configuration and the transverse engine.
All transmissions feature Auto Start-Stop, while the automatic versions further improve vehicle efficiency with a coasting function.
BMW 2 Series Active Tourer in the UK
In addition to the entry level version Sport, Luxury and M Sport models will be offered in the UK. The Sport model places the emphasis on the dynamic side, while the Luxury model is all about elegance and exclusivity.
From November M Sport models will provide a further way to lend an individual feel to both the exterior and interior of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. An M Aerodynamics package, M Sport suspension and 18-inch M light-alloy wheels are complemented by an M leather steering wheel and specially upholstered sports seats.
EfficientDynamics in the new 2 Series Active Tourer
The use of high-tensile and ultra-high-tensile multi-phase steels makes the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer stiffer, safer and lighter. Elsewhere, clever weight saving innovations have been used: the bonnet is made of lightweight aluminium and weighs just eight kilograms, about 50 per cent less than a conventionally produced component.
Apart from being a crucial factor in the model's exceptional driving dynamics, this lightweight engineering is just one among many BMW EfficientDynamics technology elements.
These also include the Auto Start-Stop function, Brake Energy Regeneration, Optimum Gearshift Indicator, on-demand operation of ancillary units and the integral Aero Curtain, which uses two vertical air inlets in the front bumper to direct the airstream along the front wheels.
BMW Connected Drive: clever systems for simpler, safer driving
The new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer comes with a host of standard and optional functions that make driving safer, and keep its occupants connected with the outside world.
For the first time in the segment, BMW will offer full colour Head-Up Display (optionally available as part of the Media package - Professional Plus). The information is shown on a screen that extends out between the steering wheel and windscreen, enabling drivers to view all key information without having to divert their attention from the road.
The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer features the new Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function, which significantly improves pedestrian safety in urban environments. If the system detects a pedestrian or a stationary vehicle, it emits an audible and visible signal to warn the driver, and primes the brakes. If the driver fails to react, the system acts autonomously to reduce vehicle speed.
The new Parking Assistant from BMW improves parking comfort and safety. At speeds below 22mph, Parking Assistant helps the driver look for appropriate parallel parking spaces using ultrasound sensors on the left and right-hand sides of the vehicle. The system identifies parking spaces which are around one metre longer than the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer itself.
Via the electromechanical steering system, the Parking Assistant takes charge of steering, leaving the driver to focus on accelerating, braking and switching between forward and reverse gears.
The new and even more efficient bi-LED lights are available for the dipped and main beam functions. These lights are as bright as comparable xenon systems with LED daytime running light rings, but only consume half as much energy. LED technology is also used in the cornering lights, which provide excellent sideways illumination both when making a turn and also when cornering at speeds between 25 and 44mph.
The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer arrives in dealers on 27 September, 2014 and will start from less than £23,000 OTR.