BMW’S TOURER DE FORCE
A SURPRISE PACKAGE PERFECT FOR ALL CONDITIONS
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 luggage 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.
Verdict: 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.