Fans of cars made in Bavaria have something to look forward to. The Active Tourer broke an unspoken BMW taboo on making a front-wheel-drive vehicle. Now the next one is rolling off the assembly line. It fills a gap in the carmaker's range.
Our car tester Axel Busse is checking out the BMW 2-series Gran Tourer -- the long version of the Active Tourer and BMW's first mini-van. Most experts and customers were surprised BMW decided to make one. But it does plug that hole in their palette, says Busse. Up until now, young families and active people who have to carry lots of gear had to turn to other manufacturers. BMW didn't have a minivan in its portfolio. That's why they decided to make one, he says.
The coupe's look is dynamic -- true to BMW's aesthetic.
But the 2-series Active Tourer is based on a different platform.
With a wheelbase that's 11 centimeters wider and more than ten centimeters taller in the rear, you could view the Gran Tourer as an Active Tourer with a backpack. It reveals that BMW's 2-series is one of the most diverse in the industry.
The carmaker's head of product management says the two cars are related, but that the Gran Tourer is also backed up by its own solid concept. It's 21 centimeters longer and offers a lot more space than the Active Tourer.
Space for plenty of comforts. Especially for the captain of this stately vessel.
The young crew will find plenty of room back in the spacious rear of the car -- far from the captain's post.
Is it far? Are we there yet? I'm thirsty! As everyone who has travelled with kids knows, says Axel, those are key issues. And the last can be addressed in this car. There are plenty of drink-holders in the Gran Tourer. In the doors, on the back of the front seats. And there's also more than enough leg space in the rear. When they're in this position it's over 30 centimeters, Axel comments. And if I need more space in the last row of seats, I just move them forward a bit. You can move those up to 130 millimeters forwards and backwards as well.
Driving six or seven people is one side of the coin, says our car tester....the other is cargo space. If you want to carry baggage for two, for example, you can easily extend the trunk. When you're transporting five people, the trunk holds 645 liters. It's the biggest in any of BMW's series cars. If you need a little more, you can press a button to lower the second row of seats, he explains. Then you have a volume of about 1800 liters of cargo space.
His test vehicle -- the 220d xDrive version -- has come equipped with all-wheel drive and an 8-gear automatic transmission. It isn't made by the supplier that usually delivers BMW transmissions for longitudinal engines. But it still functions flawlessly, throwing the car to 100 kilometers an hour in just 7-point-6 seconds.
Drivers can keep a close eye on important information with the help of a head-up display.
With other carmakers, the hefty proportions of a minivan often lead to sloppy handling.
But not in this one, says Axel. In the Gran Tourer you feel like you have good contact with the street, and that the car responds well...that you can react and the car will do what you want. That in turn makes you feel secure behind the wheel, he says.
And the Gran Tourer can provide not just an active driving experience, but an interactive one as well. Its infotainment system can also use the net.
Peter Heinrich says BMW is marketing a number of technologies under the name 'Connected Drive'. That includes the head-up display -- which is unique in this segment -- but also online services. You can surf from your car, connect to social media -- whatever you want, he says.
The minivan lives up to the BMW image in terms of sportiness and dynamic handling. It's the best of both worlds for drivers who need lots of space but don't want to sacrifice agility.
Axel says his verdict is overwhelmingly positive, because he demands versatility, but also wants to have fun behind the wheel. That always involves compromises, he says, but in the Gran Tourer BMW has minimized them. The car provides excellent levels of comfort in a wide range of activities, as well as driving pleasure and versatility. He believes this minivan concept is a winner.