BMW 2 Series Active Tourer (2014-2018)

By Jonathan Crouch

Models Covered: Mid-Sized MPV 5dr (1.5, 2.0 petrol / 1.5, 2.0 diesel)


BMW reached into the mainstream with this 2 Series Active Tourer, a reasonably spacious and quite affordable family five-seat MPV. MINI underpinnings saw this as the brand’s first front driven model and it’s certainly a classier, more interesting alternative to a conventional Scenic-style compact MPV. Does it add up as a used buy?

The History

Front wheel drive and BMW. It’s not often you see those words in the same sentence. Equally unusual is the idea of any kind of BMW MPV. We’re here though, to examine the used car market credentials of a car that brings all of these things together, the Munich maker’s 2 Series Active Tourer.

It’s precisely because this car was so different from anything BMW had done before that it was so perfectly pitched for the conquest sales the brand was seeking when it launched this model back in 2014. Sure enough, over 70% of Active Tourer buyers were people new to the Bavarian marque. Many of them too, were also new to the five-seat Scenic and C-MAX-style compact MPV sector this car supposedly competes in. That segment had previously never before been offered a car that was in any way aspirational.

This model’s closest market rival, the Mercedes B-Class, is the nearest thing we had previously had to something of that kind in this segment, but that car wasn’t especially dynamic, either in the way it looked or the way it drove. To be frank, it was aimed at a more mature audience. What the market needed was the same sort of thing but with sharper looks and handling. Maybe even a bit of cleverer packaging too. That’s what BMW tried to deliver here.

And tried to achieve for the first time without its traditional unique selling point when it comes to driving dynamics: rear wheel drive. The Bavarians once said they’d never abandon that, but the space-efficient front-driven platform and engine package developed for the third generation new MINI proved too tempting a proposition not to install in something bearing the BMW badge. This car sold until 2018 when it was lightly facelifted. It’s the original pre-facelift models we look at here.

What To Look For

Most of the 2 Series Active Tourer buyers in our owners’ survey were very happy with their cars, but inevitably, there were a few issues, though these tended to relate to relatively minor things. On one car for example, the glovebox catch mechanism collapsed. This is a car that will have been subjected to family use, so check the interior condition carefully for wear and tear, including scratching of the plastics and stains on the seats. Also make sure the seats all fold away and flip up as they should, especially those that are operated electrically. Check the paintwork for scuff marks and the wheels for kerb damage, as these cars will have been used in town car parks and on school runs.

Look out for trouble with a blocked diesel particulate filter (DPF), especially on cars that might have been used for short, city journeys. Otherwise, there have been a few reports of interior trim creaking and some issues with the plastic flaps in the boot working loose, but nothing really large enough to worry about. The engines and mechanicals are proven from other BMW models, and their reputation is good. As usual, make sure that servicing has been correctly carried out at a BMW main dealer.

On The Road

On the move, we were – given the front-driven layout - expecting this car to be far more MINI-like than most of the time it actually is. The Munich men have intentionally dumbed the responses of this 2 Series model down a little, mindful perhaps that a Cooper-style ‘go kart-like’ feel is less appealing to BMW buyers – and might be even less well received in the MPV segment. That said, this Active Tourer still represents a firmer-riding and more driver-orientated choice than many Scenic or C-MAX-style buyers will be used to, whatever the choice made of settings from the standard ‘Drive Performance Control’ system, the rocker switch for which you’ll find down here by the gearstick.

Under the bonnet, the range begins with the same 1.5-litre three cylinder petrol and diesel units you’ll find in a MINI, powering the most affordable 136bhp 218i and 116bhp 216d Active Tourer derivatives. Our preference though, is for the variant that accounted for the majority of sales of this car, the 218d. Under the bonnet here, there’s a larger, more conventional four cylinder powerplant offering 150bhp and far pokier performance, with 62mph just 8.9s away en route to 129mph. To be honest, we can’t really see why you might want to go much faster in this car, but should that be your desire, then BMW will wheel out a 190bhp 220d variant. Here, there’s the option of BMW’s xDrive 4WD system, a set-up that really comes into its own in the winter months, distributing as it can almost 100 per cent of power to either axle - or a mix between both front and rear. Either way, the car will be kept firmly planted through the tightest bends in the foulest weather. The extra xDrive traction aids performance too, the 0-62mph sprint time improving from the 7.6s showing you get in the 2WD 220d model to just 6.8s.

There are pokier petrol variants too. First up the 190bhp 220i, which uses the MINI Cooper S hot hatch’s turbo 2.0-litre unit to make 62mph in 7.5s en route to 143mph. And beyond that, the fastest variant in the range, the top 225i model, which needs the additional traction of xDrive to harness its 231 braked horses. Here, 62mph is 6.3s away from rest on the way to 147mph. Automatic transmission is a non-negotiable here, an 8-speed ‘Sport’ set-up that features launch control and paddleshifters. There’s also a more basic version of this 8-speeder offered as an option on all four cylinder derivatives. A separate 6-speed auto ‘box has been developed for the three cylinder engines. BMW also offered a rare 225xe petrol/electric hybrid version.


Did you ever expect to see a BMW model range built around front wheel drive with an MPV body shape and offering the option of a three cylinder engine? We’re not sure we ever did. But then we weren’t really ready for an electrified BMW supercar either and we’ve got one of those. After all, even MPV buyers now realise that style and driving dynamics aren’t incompatible with family versatility. Cars like this one are driving that change.

All of which means that BMW’s appealing spin on ordinary family motoring will probably continue to attract a ready audience. People who probably never thought they’d be buying from this Munich maker. They won’t be getting ‘the ultimate driving machine’ because that’s not what they need. Getting instead what may very well be ‘the ultimate small people carrier’ will suit them very well indeed.