BMW has been building sporty sedans for a very long time. Prioritizing sportiness over pure luxury, the brand has done very well in making premium vehicles that drive exceptionally well across the board. One of the keys to BMW’s dynamic success has been the use of rear-wheel drive. BMW does offer front-wheel drive vehicles through the Mini brand that they own. Now, for the first time in the history of the company, BMW is building their very own front-wheel drive vehicle. The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is a 5-door hatchback with ample storage space and front-wheel drive. The 2 Series Active Tourer will likely come to the United States in 2015, so let’s take a look at first venture into the front-wheel drive world.
There are several advantages to front-wheel drive vehicles from both a manufacturing and practicality standpoint. Front-wheel drive (FWD) vehicles have everything packaged in one place, under the hood. There is no need to design a vehicle that needs to accommodate a drive shaft down the middle of the vehicle. From a packaging standpoint, FWD vehicles end up being less expensive to produce. With everything packaged under the hood, free space inside the vehicle is dramatically improved both in the cabin and rear storage area.
In Europe, small hatchbacks are pretty popular, and all the premium brands make them. In the United States, small hatchbacks are not as popular and often limited to large city centers. But in the United States, people who want a truly premium small car experience are limited to offerings primarily from Mini. The Mini does have a bold and stylish design, but that design might be unattractive to a certain group of people. Clearly, BMW’s goal with the 2 Series Active Tourer is to target those individuals.
We doubt we’ll see the diesel version here in the States, but we do expect the turbocharged 3-cylinder 218i Active Tourer and turbocharged 4-cylinder 225i to both make the trip. All-wheel drive is expected to appear sometime in the future on all models. If a 3-cylinder turbo sounds crazy, keep in mind that it produces 134hp. That is more than many small 4-cylinder vehicles. Also, BMW would not be the first brand in the United States to offer a 3-cylinder turbo. Ford is doing the same thing with their 1.0L EcoBoost in the Fiesta.
Pricing is currently unannounced, but we expect it to carry a price premium over other brands. However, we also expect the little Bimmer to be available with options not seen in this class. BMW has a suite of technology for both convenience and safety, such as heads up displays, automatic parking systems, LED headlights, and more. We would not be surprised to see all of those features offered on this vehicle.
The big unknown will be how the vehicle drives. Minis tend to drive exceptionally well for FWD vehicles. Hopefully, BMW takes everything they learned there and apply it to the 2 Series Active Tourer. We do believe people will take to this new vehicle regardless of which wheels receive power, because we believe there is a market for premium small cars. The previous 1 Series sold in the United States lacked a lot of practicality and space. It also was only a 2-door vehicle. The 2 Series Active Tourer should offer loads more space for a similar price.