BMW's family-hauling 2 Series Active Tourer returns for a second generation

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Not every motorist in Europe has caught crossover fever, so BMW has introduced the second generation of the 2 Series Active Tourer. It's a tall, city-friendly people-hauler with a spacious interior developed primarily for families and aimed directly at the Mercedes-Benz B-Class.

Designers haven't significantly altered the Active Tourer's proportions: it still looks like what most Americans would label a minivan, though it does not have sliding rear doors. Up front, the four-door 2 Series receives BMW's giant corporate grille and more chiseled lights. Its door handles are now mounted flush with the body, while the rear lights are thinner and seemingly inspired by the ones fitted to the 3 Series.

Bigger changes are found in the cabin, where buyers can order the Active Tourer with BMW's Curved Display (which groups the digital instrument cluster and the iDrive infotainment system's touchscreen) and sport seats for the front passengers — lugging around three kids and a labrador doesn't mean you need to sit on a La-Z-Boy. The multi-level center console is a feature borrowed from the electric iX.

At launch, the lineup will include four models called 218i, 220i, 223i, and 218d, respectively. The entry-level model ships with a turbocharged, 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine related to the unit that powers the Mini and tuned to develop 136 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. Stepping up to the 220i unlocks a more powerful version of the triple whose output checks in at 156 and 177, respectively, thanks in part to a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. The 223i also uses mild-hybrid technology, but it pairs electrification with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged to 204 horses and 236 pound-feet of twist. Finally, the 218d is powered by a 2.0-liter turbodiesel four with 150 horsepower and a stout 265 pound-feet of twist. Every engine spins the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Front-wheel drive might sound odd when there's a BMW emblem above the grille, but it's not unprecedented. The original Active Tourer was the first series-produced front-wheel-drive BMW. The 1 Series, the 2 Series Gran Coupe, the X1, and the X2 are front-drive as well.

BMW dealers across Europe will begin receiving the 2 Series Active Tourer before the end of 2021. Looking ahead, the range will grow with a pair of plug-in hybrid models, and we're guessing the seven-seater 2 Series Gran Tourer will return sooner rather than later. Pricing information hasn't been published yet, but nothing seriously suggests BMW's family-hauling machine will be sold on this side of the pond.

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