The new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer sees BMW for the first time expand its portfolio to introduce front-wheel-drive and three cylinder engines in the model line-up. Following on from the coupe as the second member of the new BMW 2 Series range, the Active Tourer combines dynamism, style, elegance and practicality in one cleverly packaged car.

New lightweight turbocharged engines with three and four cylinders, a comprehensive package of BMW EfficientDynamics measures and the extensive connectivity provided by BMW ConnectedDrive are all elements in a driving experience that allows sporty performance and incredible efficiency.

Measuring just 4,342mm long (only marginally longer than a BMW 1 Series), 1,800mm wide and 1,555mm in height, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer combines compact dimensions on the outside with a spacious feel on the inside, making it perfectly suited to the increasing challenges of urban mobility.

From the low-rise double kidney grille, which is positioned lower than the headlights, a feature normally only found on BMW coupés, to the steeply raked windscreen and clearly defined and sculpted bonnet, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer has a low-slung, sporty appearance.

The tailgate, with its low sill and wide aperture, gives easy access to the load compartment, while vertical air-deflecting aeroblades on either side of the rear window along with a rear spoiler add style while contributing to impressive aerodynamic efficiency. The dynamic look is even carried over to the rear windscreen wiper, which at rest remains hidden inside the rear spoiler. The result is that the new BMW 218i Active Tourer has a drag coefficient of just 0.26.

Despite the compact exterior dimensions, the interior is light and surprisingly spacious, with comfortable seating for five people. A large glass area ensures the cabin is light and airy throughout – an effect further enhanced by the optional panoramic roof and by the A-pillar triangle window, both of which also improve all-round visibility.

The versatile luggage compartment’s capacity can be enlarged from 468 to 1,510 litres, with a flat loading floor, and the 40:20:40 split-folding rear backrest fitted as standard exemplify this model’s excellent everyday practicality. Flexibility is further enhanced by a sliding rear seat, allowing either knee room or luggage space to be increased as required, and its backrest can be adjusted to recline for the three rear seats or sat more upright for extra luggage space.

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For the first time BMW has introduced front-wheel-drive into its model range, but in order to do so, and retain the sporty characteristics necessary in every one of its cars, it chose to start with a blank sheet of paper.

The result is a new, state-of-the-art, front-wheel-drive system on the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer that balances comfort and agility – both key requirements of customers in the segment, but rarely met in other vehicles.

The chassis has been newly developed, with a long wheelbase and wide track (2,670mm and a front and rear track width of 1,561mm and 1,562mm respectively), reduced-friction steering system, a torsionally very stiff, lightweight body with short overhangs, and a low centre of gravity.

At the core of the chassis is the highly advanced single-joint spring-strut front axle. Lightweight, very stiff and with perfect calibration, it offers excellent directional control, largely torque-steer-free steering and pliancy for excellent ride comfort.

The multi-link rear axle, too, has been newly developed and makes an important contribution to the excellent driving dynamics.

With the optional electronically controlled dampers, the chassis characteristics can be adjusted to different driving situations with a choice of two different settings, making for even further improved ride comfort and driving dynamics. Optional Variable Sports Steering and the introduction of M Sport models from later in 2014 will add to the sporty handling  and character of the car.

The new BMW 218i Active Tourer is powered by an all-new three-cylinder engine. This ultra-low-friction, all-aluminium core engine is part of a newly developed modular family comprising light weight, high-performance and fuel-efficiency, equipped with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. The result is CO2 emissions of only 115g/km, yet peak power of 136hp.

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With turbocharging, direct petrol injection, double-Vanos variable camshaft timing and the longer firing intervals of the three-cylinders, it is possible to precisely match the engine cycle to varying power requirements. As a result, throttle response is sharp, and the engine develops large amounts of torque from only slightly above idling. Peak torque of 220Nm is reached at only 1,250rpm, and sustained all the way until 4,300rpm.

Further advantages of this lightweight, compact three-cylinder engine are its vibration characteristics. The small amounts of engine roll torque are completely eliminated by a balancer shaft, while the combination of a dual-mass flywheel and a centrifugal pendulum absorber, unusual in this power class, eliminate irregular running, ensuring refinement even at the low end of the engine speed range.

Completing the two engine line-up at launch is a new four-cylinder diesel engine in the BMW 218d Active Tourer.

Turbocharged and common rail direct-injected, optimised performance with optimised efficiency see CO2 emissions as low as 109g/km, power of 150hp and a peak torque of 330Nm.

A new diesel engine, it has a friction-reduced core engine, improved thermodynamics and injection pressures of up to 2,000 bar. This makes the engine a natural choice for all drivers who want to combine dynamic power with superior fuel efficiency. This model, too, offers the refinement benefits of a dual-mass flywheel with centrifugal pendulum absorber.

In the UK, the higher-power 225i will go on sale with xDrive four-wheel-drive from November, alongside further models: BMW 220i, 216d, 220d and 220d xDrive Active Tourer.

The standard transmission is a newly developed six-speed manual unit. Optionally, in conjunction with the three-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission can be specified.

For the four-cylinder engine, a new eight-speed automatic transmission has been developed, which is specially adapted to take account of the front-wheel-drive configuration and the transverse engine. All transmissions feature Auto Start-Stop, while the automatic versions further improve vehicle efficiency with a coasting function.

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The new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer comes with a host of standard and optional functions that make driving safer, and keep its occupants connected with the outside world.

For the first time in the segment, BMW will offer full colour Head-Up Display (optionally available as part of the Media package – Professional Plus). The information is shown on a screen that extends out between the steering wheel and windscreen, enabling drivers to view all key information without having to divert their attention from the road.

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer features the new Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function, which significantly improves pedestrian safety in urban environments. If the system detects a pedestrian or a stationary vehicle, it emits an audible and visible signal to warn the driver, and primes the brakes. If the driver fails to react, the system acts autonomously to reduce vehicle speed.

The new Parking Assistant from BMW improves parking comfort and safety. At speeds below 22mph, Parking Assistant helps the driver look for appropriate parallel parking spaces using ultrasound sensors on the left and right-hand sides of the vehicle. The system identifies parking spaces which are around one metre longer than the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer itself.

Via the electromechanical steering system, the Parking Assistant takes charge of steering, leaving the driver to focus on accelerating, braking and switching between forward and reverse gears.

The new and even more efficient bi-LED lights are available for the dipped and main beam functions. These lights are as bright as comparable xenon systems with LED daytime running light rings, but only consume half as much energy. LED technology is also used in the cornering lights, which provide excellent sideways illumination both when making a turn and also when cornering at speeds between 25 and 44mph.

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer arrives in dealers on 27 September, 2014 and will start from less than £23,000 .