BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, Mercedes B-Class, VW Golf Sportsvan, front view 15 Photos Zoom

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer: First comparison with B-class and Golf Sportsvan

The first BMW van enters the stage with the 2 Series Active Tourer. New competition for the Mercedes B-Class and the Golf Plus successor Sportsvan: A first comparison in the studio to show whether it offers more than a Mercedes or VW.

Maybe you have been wondering about those advertising images of high-roof cars where only hip leisure equipment is loaded: high-tech bicycles, kite surfing equipment and the like. Perhaps no one really loads rabbit cages or pigeon dovecotes into his van. It is no secret that in addition to young and dynamic skateboarders or snowboarders, other clientèle would like to drive a compact van where the car is not the only thing that has a silvery shimmer.

So now BMW is also getting in on the act in this class, and because apparently- just like Mercedes and VW - we would rather see kite surfers than small animal breeders in new compact van, it is called the Active Tourer. Its main competitor from Mercedes is simply called the B-Class, but it also comes with the Sports Tourer subtitle.

At VW, they even go a step further: The Golf Van which has been simply and aptly called Plus, is now called Sportsvan. Be that as it may, until now the Mercedes B-Class and the Golf Plus made themselves comfortable in their niche of high-roof compacts. Now the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer has arrived. The three come together in the photo studio. The Golf Sportsvan and Mercedes B drive in front of the bright wall. No time for a big round of introductions, dear Active Tourer, you have to measured against these two.

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer with the smallest boot by comparison

Even if the three are right next to each other, you can hardly say which is one is the largest. The key data for the bodies is the same almost to the millimetre; the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is, however, cut a little tighter, has the shortest wheelbase and smallest car boot. On the other hand, the designers deserve praise for managing to design the Tourer so that it's profile still looks a little like a BMW and remains amazingly close to the 2012 study: dynamic side lines, severe dual headlights and a short overhang in the front. Yes, sir, a short overhang. This is no small feat because, unlike the other members of the 2-series family, the Active Tourer supports the engine transversely and drives the front wheels. Under the dynamic shell, the Mini platform is hidden, customised for the van which - even apart from better space utilisation - is not necessarily a disadvantage.

BMW developer, Michael Reger, also looks at it this way. He stresses that the brand-typical driving and steering feel in the adaptation of the front-wheel drive platform was at the top of the requirements specification. We could not try it out here in the studio, however, we did test sitting and loading in detail. In fact, a large suitcase does not fit as well but a travel bag fits better in the BMW than in the Mercedes, with VW it's a tie. The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer has a sliding and tilt-adjustable rear seat as do the competitors.

The rear seat can be collapsed in a ratio of 40/20/40. It thus forms an almost flat loading area in combination with the cleverly collapsible boot floor. The passenger seat is also collapsible. This option is available in the Mercedes and Volkswagen for an extra charge. The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer holds up to 1,510 litres. When the rear seat is in its normal position, this reduces to 468 litres. These measurements are so similar to the competition that it seems like the developers looked over each others shoulders (B-Class: 488 to 1,547 litres, Sportsvan: 500 to 1,520 litres). The Mercedes is particularly easy to load with freight. The loading opening is large and the floor is seamlessly flat.

Friendly cockpit in the BMW

With al their similarities, it is no surprise that the amount of space on the rear seat is almost identical. It is very roomy; thanks to the high roof, there s plenty of space even for large people and the optional panorama roofs. The knee room is only tight for tall passengers.

The most comfortable seats are in the Mercedes whose high-mounted rear seat makes a comfortable knee angle possible. The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer offers the most pleasant ambience up front. Its cockpit is very similar to that in the study shown two years ago. Familiar BMW elements have been changed around a bit and furnished with a friendly touch using light wood. The B-Class and Sportsvan are more austere and more in line with compact class cars.

Like the larger BMW, the 2 Series Active Tourer is available in several trim lines. In this case, they are called the Sport Line and Luxury Line; for particularly dynamic drivers, there is also the M-Sport package with an aerodynamic kit, M-wheels and other niceties like special colours and upholstery fabrics or a vehicle key in the tri-colour M design.

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer has three engines to start with.

An M engine is not currently available for the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, however. Here, too, the BMW is oriented to the competitive environment, but with a dynamic edge because none of the competitors offer a van like the 225i with 231 HP. It always comes with an eight-speed automatic engine, is 235 km/h fast and accelerates in 6.8 seconds to 100 km/h, and that with an average fuel consumption of six litres of Super petrol per 100 kilometres (CO2 emissions: 139 g/km).

Slightly less ambitious, the other two engines : The 136 HP-strong three-cylinder engine in the 218i (cubic capacity: 1,499 cc) requires 9.3 seconds for the sprint to 100 km/h, but remains just below the five-litre limit (4.9 litre, CO2 emissions:115 g/km) at standard consumption. As the only diesel engine, the 218d with 150 HP is initially available which consumes up to 4.1 litres of diesel according to the standard.

The BMW van goes on sale next summer.

The prices are not fixed yet, the sales launch of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is planned first for the summer. For the 218i, the price should be under €30,000. Which places the new BMW right on par with the B-Class and Sportsvan. The Mercedes is available with comparable engines from €28,768 (B 200 with 156 HP). Volkswagen's is slightly cheaper. A comparable Sportsvan is about €25,825 (1.4 TSI 150 HP).

You need not be a clever prophet to predict that the 218d will have the largest market share in Germany for the moment. Experience shows that the diesel engines fit very well with intelligent concepts of space and high roof compact cars. And for drivers who need a lot of room in their car for leisure stuff as well as high seating positions - regardless of whether they are driving to the pet shop, the surf beach or the golf club.


Hans-Dieter Seufert


17 February 2015
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