BMW 2 Series Active Tourer 220d xDrive (4x4) review

BMW's first front-wheel-drive car gets a 4x4 option. We test the 2 Series Active Tourer xDrive

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

At a £3,050 premium for the xDrive version of the 2 Series Active Tourer, it doesn’t come cheap but it is good value when you consider the extra capability and kit provided. Add in the impressive eight-speed automatic gearbox that comes as standard – usually a costly £1,550 option – and it’s certainly worth considering. The drop-off in economy is minor and with the unpredictability of the British weather, we’d recommend it.

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer caused a bit of a stir when arrived earlier this year, being BMW’s first ever front-wheel drive car. But now the German firm has made the mini-MPV available with four-wheel drive, adding £3,050 to the price tag.

The added all-weather grip advantage of the xDrive is nothing new to BMW. It’s a 4x4 system already offered on a whole host of saloons and SUVs from the brand but this is the first time it’s has been fitted to a model designed with a front-drive layout. It differs slightly from the setup you’ll find in a 3 Series saloon for example, as the Active Tourer will be driven via the front-wheels wherever possible to save fuel.

When the car detects a loss in traction, power is shuffled from the front wheels to the rear. The transition of power is seamless, without a jolt or crunch from the connecting mechanics beneath the floor of the car. In extreme situations, where the front wheels may be resting on ice for example, up to 100 per cent of the drive can be sent to the rear wheels if required.

Body roll is well contained and the standard Active Tourer’s natural instinct to push through corners is eradicated as power transmitted to the rear wheels dials out any unwanted understeer. It feels more planted as a result, allowing you to carry far more speed through corners without fear of the car being wrong footed.

Like the standard front-drive 2 Series Active Tourer model, various driving modes made up of Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport alter the throttle response and steering weight. Sport mode provides the best in terms of steering feel but as ever, the standard eight-speed auto gearbox –usually a £1,550 option – has a tendency to hold onto gears longer than necessary.

The only place you’ll notice the extra 61kg added by the xDrive system is on the spec sheet. Effects of the weight gain are minor, with the 187bhp 220d diesel model tested retuning 61.4mpg and emitting 122g/km. That means an incremental descrease of 2.8 mpg and increase of 7g/km over an equivalent front-drive version.

A gruff engine note remains slightly intrusive in the cabin at the top end and chunky A-pillars can restrict your view, especially at awkwardly sighted junctions.

For an MPV, the Active Tourer also lacks the interior flexibility buyers of this type of vehicle often require. Rear passenger space is ample but the seats only slide and fold, they don’t tumble like they do in a Citroen C4 Picasso. Boot space, at 486 litres, is also a little shy of what’s on offer elsewhere.

On the flipside, the cabin in the Active Tourer is one of the finest in the segment. Any surface covered in leather or wood is trimmed in the real stuff and the car feels infinitely more premium inside than any rival. 

Given the £29,995 price tag, standard kit impresses, with an automatic tailgate, air con, rear parking sensors, electric folding rear seating, Bluetooth with USB interface plus a 6.5-inch high resolution screen with iDrive controller all thrown in. Yet, if buyers feel unfulfilled, BMW’s comprehensive options list caters to your every need. 

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