Front-wheel drive first, but it’s still a true BMW

Macclesfield Express - - MOTORING -

WHEN BMW in­tro­duced the 2 Se­ries last year it marked a ma­jor mile­stone for the Ger­man man­u­fac­turer – its first mod­ern-day car with front-wheel drive.

BMW has al­ways pre­sented it­self as mak­ing ‘driv­ers cars’ – and a big part of that claim was stick­ing to tra­di­tional rear-wheeldrive.

So join­ing al­most ev­ery other car maker in the world to of­fer FWD with this week’s test car, the 218i Sport Ac­tive Tourer, was a big step for the com­pany as it en­tered for the first time the highly-com­pet­i­tive com­pact MPV mar­ket.

At first, look­ing at the £24,295 price, I thought BMW may have a prob­lem in such a hard-fought sec­tor where Citroens, Peu­geots and Fords that can do the same job can be bought for less.

But then I thought of the driver who needs the prac­ti­cal­ity of such a car but still wants pres­tige and driver en­joy­ment – af­ter all, the 2 Se­ries Ac­tive Tourer does feel like a proper BMW.

For although be­ing an MPV – with the shape be­ing dic­tated more by in­te­rior space rather than stunning looks and per­for­mance – it still de­liv­ers an en­joy­able drive when in Sport mode, although I sus­pect th­ese cars will spend most of their life in Eco Pro (econ­omy) mode. There is also a mid-way Com­fort set­ting.

In­side all the con­trols are laid out with the clar­ity we’ve come to ex­pect from BMW and the com­mand/sat-nav screen on top of the dash makes it easy to use with­out tak­ing your eyes too far off the road.

The screen is con­trolled us­ing BMW’s iDrive sys­tem, which is in­tu­itive to use and fea­tures a se­ries of handy short­cut but­tons.

Also good is the multi-func­tion, head-up dis­play pro­jected onto a clear screen ahead of the driver and ac­tive cruise con­trol – although it has to be said cheaper ri­vals can of­fer the same bits of kit.

Whether you go for a petrol or diesel en­gine, you’ll find a car that pulls well from low speed, but I sus­pect the more than 10 miles per gal­lon ad­van­tage of the diesel will win over most buy­ers (com­bined mpg 57.6 petrol and 68.9 diesel). And I have to re­port our test car’s three-cylin­der 1.5 petrol en­gine seemed a lit­tle more thirsty in re­al­world driv­ing than the fig­ures quoted.

Per­for­mance-wise ex­pect 0-62 in 9.3 sec­onds (a shade faster than the diesel) and a top speed of 124 (a shade less than the diesel). Un­like the petrol unit, the 150bhp, diesel en­gine is a more con­ven­tional four cylin­der unit.

BMW fits rear park­ing sen­sors as stan­dard across the range and other stan­dard kit in­cludes vari­able am­bi­ent in­te­rior light­ing, au­to­matic air con­di­tion­ing, cruise con­trol, Blue­tooth with USB in­ter­face, 6.5-inch mon­i­tor, DAB dig­i­tal ra­dio, key­less go and en­gine start and sports multi-func­tion leather steer­ing wheel.

But one of the main rea­sons for this car’s ex­is­tence is space – and there is lots of it con­sid­er­ing the com­pact ex­te­rior di­men­sions, par­tic­u­larly for rear seat pas­sen­gers and load lug­ging. The rear seats fold al­most com­pletely flat giv­ing a very prac­ti­cal load area.

A nice touch is the ease with which those seats can be dis­pensed with – lit­er­ally a touch of a but­ton and they fold away elec­tri­cally with sur­pris­ing speed. Our test car also had an­other very handy fea­ture when load­ing up – a power open and close tail­gate – again stan­dard across the range.

The base SE model also has 16” al­loys, for­ward ve­hi­cle col­li­sion warn­ing, auto head­lights and wipers and front fog­lights.

Our Sport test car adds sev­eral fea­tures in­clud­ing big­ger al­loys and ex­tra trim, sports heated seats. Luxury and M Sport mod­els boast even more re­fine­ments.

When it comes to en­gine choices BMW very re­cently greatly ex­panded its of­fer on 2 Se­ries Ac­tive Tour­ers adding 214i, 220i, 225i xDrive (4x4), 216d, 220d, 220d xDrive (4x4) mod­els.

The 218 Range is priced from £22.150 for the 218i petrol SE up to £27,205 for the diesel M Sport.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.