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23 Feb 2022

What We Dislike
Some interior features, like the charging pad and central air-con vent, seem unnecessarily large

Top-notch equipment, improved dynamism and a cleaner drivetrain make the new 2 Series Active Tourer a highly impressive second act.

When BMW first launched the 2 Series Active Tourer back in 2014, the brand had a very direct goal in mind: To bring in new customers to the brand. That much was made clear by Tilo Renz, Head of Project BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, during the International Media Launch of the car.

The second generation 2 Series Active Tourer looks more like a enlarged hatchback than a typical MPV
And it worked. Across its first generation, BMW sold more than 420,000 units globally. That success translated to Singapore, too. I'm sure we all recall this model (and the seven-seater Grand Tourer variant) selling like hot cakes in Singapore too. According to LTA statistics, a total of 2,627 BMW MPVs (both petrol and diesel models) were registered in Singapore from 2015-2018.

Now, the second generation model is upon us. We've headed to Malaga, Spain, to drive the new model, and find out if this new one will translate to Singapore, too.

Clean cut

The new generation interior is a delightful revelation - functional, high-tech and expensive-feeling
A new model calls for a new look, and the 2AT certainly doesn't shy away from that. With its large kidney grille and sharpened lines, it now looks less like an MPV and more like a upsized hatchback.

And it works. I think it looks good for what it is. It certainly looks like a 1 Series writ large, with the crisp lines actually making the car appear visually more compact that it is (it's actually grown bigger than before).

The interior is a revelation. This is the first compact model to get the new generation cabin built around the new Operating System 8 first introduced on the iX. So, you get the new infotainment interface, the Curved Display, the new centre console design, and it really looks and feels expensive.

Quality, of course, is also in the details, like how the shortcut touch controls on the left of the infotainment screen only appears on menus that require them, otherwise that area is simply blank. 

The Augmented Reality view is very handy esepcially when negotiating foreign roads
It also delivers plenty of functionality. On top of the various features like the Intelligent Personal Assistant, head-up display and configurable digital dashboard, a particularly useful function is the Augmented Reality view that uses a front camera to show you real time instructions when it comes to navigation.

It certainly made navigating the numerous Spanish roundabouts less treacherous. It'll tell you which number exit to take, and concurrently show a big arrow to point you in the right direction.

The rest of the cabin is a pleasing space to be in. Functionality is good, too. The rear seats can be adjusted in multiple ways (it can be slid forward 13cm), boot space is a solid 415 litres on this 220i model (expandable to 1,405 litres), and this still certainly fulfils its purpose as a functional people carrier. My only real gripe with the interior design is that the wireless charging pad is gigantic. There's nothing functionally wrong with it, but who's phone is even that big?? 

Greener heart

The car feels more dynamically capable now, thanks for a sharper chassis and wider tracks
Powering this 220i model is a 1.5-litre turbocharged engine producing 168bhp and 280Nm of torque. This model also gets a 48V mild-hybrid system, which helps to improve fuel efficiency (I managed 13.7km/L over 160km of driving, which is a pretty respectable figure). 

Through the twisty mountain roads of Malaga, the new 2AT is surprisingly nifty. With the wider tracks and lower centre of gravity, the car handles in a manner that's honestly not far removed from a hatchback. There's not much in the way of steering feel, but the car is accurate, balanced and precise enough that you can chuck it into switchback corners with confidence. 

More importantly, it remains highly composed and comfortable when driven sensibly. Noise insulation is good, the car doesn't feel heavy or big, and it's just an easy car to use. Cruising along the highway at 120km/h feels effortless, and navigating the compact city roads along the Spanish coast is equally fuss-free. 

Part 2

Comfortable and easy to drive, this is still a very functional and practical family car
To be clear, I drove three variants of this new model in Spain, none of which will be coming to Singapore (at least for now). Singapore is slated to get the 218i, which is most similar in spec to this particular car here (the main difference is engine output, and the fact that the 218i won't have the 48V mild-hybrid system).

The new 2 Series Active Tourer has all the right ingredients to be a successful sequel. According to the project leaders, the car has gotten roughly a €3,000 increase in terms of standard equipment, while the asking price has gone up about €700 (in Europe, at least). So, it's certainly still delivering plenty of value.

And, in some ways, this is a car that has a little bit of an identity crisis, though in the best of ways. It's an MPV, but it looks and handles more like a hatchback. It's a compact class model, but gets the interior flourish from the iX that makes it feel much more expensive and premium. It's impressive in the way it defies expectations of what a car in this segment should be.

The second generation 2 Series Active Tourer takes great strides forward in terms of equipment, functionality and on-road capability
So, will the new 2 Series Active Tourer translate in Singapore? It should, though I'm not sure if it will quite as popular as before.

While the car is objectively heavily improved and still delivers good functionality, I doubt it will be quite the success it initially was. A big function of the car's original success was its affordability (especially with a diesel option). With the way COE prices have shot up, as well as changes to the tax structure, the new model is slated to cost $200k. It'll also be a Cat B model, which immediately kicks the price up some 30 grand compared to if it was a Cat A model.

I think the second iteration of the 2 Series Active Tourer takes great strides forward. You're really getting a lot of car for your money. The tricky part for Singaporean buyers will be the unfortunate reality that while you're getting a lot of car, you're probably also looking at quite a lot of money for it.
In the market for a premium compact MPV? Here are some other choices in this segment to consider:

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bmw  2 series  2 at  2at  active tourer  mpv  hatchback  bmw mpv