BMW is famous for making ultimate driving machines—meaning, rear-wheel driven units. So when it entered the front-wheel drive category with the all-new 2-Series Active Tourer, the motoring community was abuzz with speculation and skepticism on how it will be received by the market.
Will it live up to BMW’s ultimate driving machine slogan? Can it handle itself well on the road and fulfill its role as a multi-purpose vehicle? Here, we find out.
Just over a month after the 2-Series Active Tourer was unveiled in the Philippines, BMW organized a fly and drive event to demonstrate that its initial foray into the front-wheel drive segment is a true performer, just like any other BMW vehicle.
Looks-wise, the 2-Series Active Tourer initially does not impress. Maybe it is because of its short and stout stance. But looking at it much closer and longer, the shark-nosed kidney grilles complemented by the bi-LED headlamps with corona rings and DRL says it’s all BMW. Once you get used to its atypical body style, it is then that the Active Tourer’s looks will start to grow on you.
The fly and drive took place last week in the beautiful island of Negros. BMW jetted a big group of motoring hacks to the Silay City airport, near Bacolod City, where six test units were waiting. From the airport, the convoy proceeded to the nearby Autobahn BMW dealership where dancers garbed in Masskara costumes swayed and twirled to the pulsating beat of live carnival music to greet our arrival. No less than BMW Philippines president Maricar Parco was there to welcome us. The warm welcome was made more special with the presence of Alex and Kalene Roleda, who provided us with a personal tour of the most exclusive car dealership in Negros. Their hospitality didn’t stop there as the Roleda siblings accompanied our group all throughout our stay in Negros.
After feasting on Ilonggo fare for lunch at the Ruins in Silay, we started our 180-kilometer journey towards Cauayan, which is in the southwestern portion of Negros Occidental.
Each Active Tourer was assigned with three passengers. As we entered the car, it was clearly evident how much interior space the car had. Now that its engine is transversely mounted, there is no longer a need for a tunnel to house the transmission and drive shaft, resulting to a flat-bottom floor at the back, which provides a lot more space.
The 2-Series was clearly designed as a family car. All throughout the cabin are generous pockets to hold cups and store tablets and maps. Additional storage space can be found in the center armrest.
The front seats are electronically controlled, so adjusting the seat-height is a breeze. The view from upfront is also different from most BMW cars. With the 2-Series, the taller seats provide drivers with a much better view of what’s ahead, and despite its large A-pillars, visibility is still good on either side of the windshield.
The rear seats provide spacious room for two adults or three children. It has a 40/20/40 split and slides forward and back, for more legroom or cargo space. The luggage compartment can be adjusted to accommodate up to 1,510 liters of cargo. All three rear backrests can be dropped down separately at the press of a button, resulting in a completely flat loading bay. An electrically opening and closing tailgate also makes access to the luggage compartment, a lot easier.
The 180-kilometer drive to Cauayan was comprised mostly of well-paved highways with undulating roads as we cut across the mountains. The ride is firm but definitely not uncomfortable. There is a switch right in front of the gearshift that toggles up and down to change the driving mode. Toggling down on the switch activates the ECO PRO mode where the engine management computer sets shifting to higher gears at the lowest possible engine speed or rpms – resulting to better fuel economy. A toggle up the switch activates the Comfort mode for normal driving behavior. Another flick up the switch enables the Sport mode, which releases all the 136 horses from the 2-Series’ all-new 1.5-liter, three-cylinder engine with twin-power turbo.
Driving through the twisty roads leading to Cauayan was quite fun. Even as the steering felt taut during quick and tight turns, body-roll was minimal with a decent amount of grip. However, there seems to be a lack of steering feedback from the road—maybe because of its electro-mechanical power-steering system.
As with any other BMW vehicle, the designers absolutely had the driver in mind when designing the 2-Series. All the controls are angled toward the driver and everything is within easy reach. Even the placement of the LCD screen on top of the dash was perfect as it makes easy viewing of the data in it—without the need for taking your eyes too far off the road. The data on the LCD screen is controlled using the iDrive system, which is intuitive to use.
The 2-Series Active Tourer might not be the best looking car that BMW has ever built but it is hip and cool, and definitely lives up to its name as a very capable and premium family mover.