Mention the 2 Series Active Tourer to a BMW fan and you’ll see them start to foam at the mouth and twitch their eyes with rage. It’s a sensitive topic for the Roundel-faithful, as it marks the very first application of front-wheel drive for BMW. And on top of it, BMW couldn’t even make its first FWD car a cool hot-hatch, it had to be a van. So it’s understandable why BMW fans are so upset with such a car, as it marks a supposed point of no return into the territory of making cars for soccer moms instead of making cars that us enthusiasts want to drive.
Largely for this reason, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer isn’t sold in North America, as us ‘Merican customers are so used to BMW being a high-end premium brand that seeing its badge on a small van would be a bit disconcerting and hurt the brand’s reputation. It’s for the same reason that Mercedes-Benz doesn’t sell its small hatches and vans here. But could the 2 Series Active Tourer eventually work in America and actually help the brand and us enthusiasts?
Well, it’s certainly possible. Americans are looking at cars through a different lens, nowadays. It used to be that all we want was more. More space, more size, more luxury and more power. That was the American way. But now, Americans are looking for less. Less emissions, less fuel consumption and less driving responsibility. Americans want technology, efficiency and automation above all else, including looks, comfort and performance. It’s for this very reason that the Tesla Model 3 received about a bazillion (technical industry term) refundable reservations in just a few short days. People are dying for that jelly bean-looking car that has about as much charisma as boiled rice, because it’s practical, efficient and filled with technology. All attributes that can be applied to the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer.
The 2 Series AT is available in Europe with a variety of small gasoline and diesel engines, giving it extreme efficiency. In a recent article from Motor Trend, they were able to achieve 49 mpg US during mixed driving, though mostly highway, with a small diesel. That’s the sort of efficiency that Americans want and it would be packaged in a car that’s relatively attractive (enough, I guess) and has loads of practicality. BMW also has its own suite of impressive technology to bake into the 2 Series AT, stuff that would really impress Americans. It’s very possible that American buyers would eat the AT up, especially being that it’d be on the less expensive end of BMW’s price range.
If this were to happen, BMW would stand to make a lot of money, money that could then be put toward more fun projects, like the BMW M2 and M4 GTS. And this is where the 2 Series AT benefits the enthusiast. BMW can’t just might high-performance or high-luxury vehicles, as those are typically low-volume cars. And its competitors are making cars all over the range and making a killing from it. So BMW needs to expand its lineup and get a bit more mainstream if it wants to remain the number one selling luxury automaker in the world. This would in turn bring about more profit, thus allowing BMW to create more of the cars we all know and love.
With more Americans pushing for cars like the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt, would a car like the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, especially the 225xe plug-in hybrid model, be something that could actually work in the US?