Well, this are strange times, lots of new things coming out, some good, some bad, some so radical that people tend to criticize too hard before even getting to know them, and I believe this is the case with the 2 Series Active Tourer that BMW has just released.
Us enthusiasts of BMW are somewhat bothered with the idea of a FWD BMW. It is like sacrilege. One of the all time best features of a BMW is its RWD configuration. Most recently the xDrive traction system came up due to demand in cold weather places and because it is a good offering, but it is still designed to work as a RWD AWD thing.
But now BMW takes the step into what most of us consider WWD (Wrong Wheel Drive). But let’s start with a couple of things in favor of FWD.
Let’s consider the original and best IMO hot hatch,… the GTI. It is and will always be FWD (ditch the R versions), with every new generation, they come up with a more driver focus driving experience. The new MK7 with the Performance Package has an electronically controlled mechanical limited slip differential which, according to most reviews, delivers power without any torque steer and in the most composed and effective manner. The Ford ST did raised the bar for the GTI last year with a very impressive driving experience, but the GTI has gain it’s crown again. So, the point here is that FWD can be good, you just need to know how to do it.
What concerns about the 2 AT and its FWD configuration is that it is a whole new thing for BMW, it is the first FWD BMW ever, it could be good, but it can also go terribly wrong.
Let’s emphasize in what brings the 2 AT into the world, which in my opinion is the Mercedes Benz B class. Now the MB has been on the market for a long time, and MB has produces a lot of FWD cars in the past, the B class simply is a very cook package for confort and space, not a particular driving machine, but a good car, for the city, to travel, for a small family perhaps. The interior space is cavernous, it is huge, outside it is small, easy to park, it is in a way, MB’s answer for a real hatchback, a premium hatchback, but this comes with a lot of implications, because if you go into the hatchback market and you wear a Mercedes Benz badge, people expect a lot from you, same as with the BMW badge.
There are all sort of types of hatchbacks, VAG’s Golf, GTI, Seats, Skodas, Audis, etc. Renaults, Peugeots, Fords, Hyundais, Hondas, etc, etc. All of them have plenty of options, and most of them have a performance version, which is the whole point of the car. “A genuine driver’s car in the most practical package on the market”1.
So where exactly does BMW want to go with the 2 AT I’m not sure. Its engine lineup is a bit confusing since the 225i seems to be the performance version with 231 hp, and if they think about releasing an M225i or whatever M performance version (since they are stamping that badge to almost everything) then we are talking about BMW getting into a real fight for the ultimate hot hatch,… I’m not so sure I like that, at least not in this package.
The car is not pretty to my eyes, it is out of every BMW proportion, its front overhang is huge thanks to FWD, it keeps the Hofmeister kink which is supposed to emphasize the RWD character of the car, so no point on being here, and those headlights are simply huge, like the car is scared of what’s coming its way. The interior is something else, it is quite the opposite, it is beautiful, excellent materials, very clever layout and extremely practical. It is simply a very spacious and airy place to be. So it seems as I haven’t actually been in one yet.
It is a very delicate bet from BMW to get into that market but only time will tell, however, I suspect there’s one car in BMW lineup that is going to kill the 2 AT,… the BMW i3. It serves almost the same purpose, it is really innovative, it’s architecture retains BMW RWD configuration and probably, its chassis could be used to make a similarly spacious car with the full four doors, considering all this features and the fact that it is a very compelling electric car for the matter, I believe the 2 AT is doomed as to be remembered as the one time BMW tried FWD and FRB (Failed Really Bad).
Here are the pics: