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BMW’s 2 Series Active Tourer isn’t the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’, and that’s OK

BMW has long been known as a rear-wheel drive company, but given the success of the Mini and upcoming front-wheel drive Z2 roadster, things may be changing.

Enter the 2 Series Active Tourer, a five-passenger, front-wheel drive (FWD) people carrier that looks to emphasize practicality over pulse-pounding passion. The Active Tourer will be the first BMW-badged vehicle to ride on a FWD platform (the first of many), and thus it’s been quite controversial since it was first announced.

Still, it’s hard to see a future where road-ripping RWD monsters like the M3 and M5 aren’t at the forefront of BMW’s ethos. It will continue to be very much a RWD company, and in this writer’s opinion, there’s nothing wrong with diversifying your brand. I don’t think the Chevy Volt makes the new Corvette any less cool.

So don’t worry, your M3 is safe.

The minivan-esque 2 Series shows that BMW is ambitious to enter new markets, and the German automaker projects it will attract a swatch of first-time BMW buyers.

“We are expecting the Active Tourer will have a conquest rate of around 75 percent,” says Frank Niederlaender, head of product management for BMW’s lower model range.

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

What the upcoming 2 Series really means is BMW wants to broaden its appeal to other demographics, ones that expect affordability and pragmatism, not smoky burnouts and lateral g. I’m reminded of the Porsche Cayenne, which, like the Active Tourer, was criticized for diverting from its parent company’s traditional format.

In the end, though, the Cayenne became Porsche’s best-selling model and helped bolster the German automaker’s entire model range. It even helped finance new models like the Panamera, so maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.

Despite having its power at the front, the Active Tourer should be plenty sporty, as it will ride on the same UKL platform as the new Mini. In range topping 225i form, which houses a 2.0-liter, 231-horsepower turbo four, the 2 Series can reportedly lap the Nurburgring in less than nine minutes. That’s not bad for a minivan.

Other engine choices include a 1.5-liter, turbocharged three-cylinder making 136 hp and a 2.0-liter turbodiesel making 150 hp and 243 pound-feet of torque.

No pricing has been released for the Active Tourer’s 2015 U.S. debut, but it will carry a $36,771 base price in Germany when it’s released this September.

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