BMW’S TOURER DE FORCE

A SUR­PRISE PACK­AGE PER­FECT FOR ALL CON­DI­TIONS

Southern Gazette (Victoria Park) - - Driveway - Peter Barn­well

WHAT bet­ter place to test BMW’s new 218i Ac­tive Tourer than Europe, where it's made?

They have a spe­cific set of re­quire­ments there: good speed for the au­to­bahn, fuel ef­fi­ciency to keep run­ning costs down, com­pact di­men­sions to ac­cess nar­row streets and small park­ing spa­ces, as well as the latest con­nec­tiv­ity tech­nol­ogy and a full com­ple­ment of safety and lux­ury kit.

We got hold of the base model 218i turbo petrol Ac­tive Tourer for a week in Ger­many and frankly, were quite sur­prised.

It sells here for $44,400 with a six-speed auto and pad­dle shift.

Hav­ing ''only'' a 1.5-litre, three cylin­der petrol en­gine driv­ing the front wheels sug­gests a lack of per­for­mance, but noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth.

This en­gine has di­rect fuel in­jec­tion and vari­able valve tim­ing and valve lift, as well as a turbo to boost per­for­mance and has just been re­leased in the new 3 Se­ries.

It's good for 100kW/220Nm, which is plenty for the 1320kg five seat 218i.

In the 2 Se­ries Ac­tive Tourer line-up, the 218i is ar­guably the bet­ter choice for all round driv­ing as it has the nec­es­sary get-up to move out on the au­to­bahn and stay with the faster cars at around 160km/h. At 130km/h, the 218i is in easy cruisin' mode with re­spectable fuel econ­omy that can go as low as 5.2-litres/100km on 91 oc­tane fuel while qual­i­fy­ing for an EU56 emis­sions rat­ing.

Three drive modes are avail­able by turn­ing a dial – EcoPro, Nor­mal and Sport – with the lat­ter sharp­en­ing up a num­ber of dy­nam­ics func­tions and the trans­mis­sion.

It has en­gine stop/start, on de­mand an­cil­lar­ies, re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing and fric­tion re­duc­tion along with a range of other tricks to cut fuel con­sump­tion and emis­sions. What we found re­ally handy was the park as­sist sys­tem that spots a place and then helps you park.

Though this is the base model, equip­ment is gen­er­ous and in­cludes sat­nav on a large 6.5-inch screen with iDrive con­troller, BMW's ex­cel­lent Con­nect­edDrive sys­tem for com­puter, phone and other ap­pli­ances, auto high beam, auto head­lights, auto wipers, cruise con­trol with brake func­tion, lane de­par­ture warn­ing, speed lim­iter, and other use­ful aids.

Seats for five are pro­vided but that would be re­stricted by lug

gage ca­pac­ity, which can cope with four pas­sen­gers. In­te­rior styling is generic BMW, which means neat, stylish and easy to use.

The 218i Ac­tive Tourer doesn't pre­tend to be a sporty car. It can be driven with a de­gree of vigour and corners flat. Com­fort lev­els are high and noise min­i­mal.

This was a bit of a rev­e­la­tion. It will make you re­think your needs in a car with so much com­ing from so lit­tle in terms of en­gine size. Nice one, BMW.

An eye-opener from BMW.

Ver­dict:

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