BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Review 2024

Written by Andrew Brady

heycar ratingA genuinely impressive SUV alternative
  • 2022
  • MPV
  • Petrol, Diesel, PHEV

Quick overview


  • Space and rear-seat adjustability
  • Great cabin quality and infotainment
  • A hoot to drive


  • Not available as a seven-seater
  • Back seat tight when carrying three
  • We expect the basic petrol will struggle when fully loaded

Overall verdict on the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

"While BMW and MPV might not sound like a natural fit, the new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is one of the best family MPVs you can buy. It's bang up to date, with plenty of new tech, including BMW's latest generation iDrive interface, while the plug-in hybrid model delivers an electric-only range of 49 miles. If you're looking for a premium 5-seat people carrier, this is it."

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Review 2024: front dynamic

If you're looking for a desirable family carrier with a premium badge, the default choice of recent years would be a high-riding SUV like the Mercedes GLB or Audi Q3. But, while BMW is no stranger to niche SUVs, it's sticking with the versatile MPV format with its 2 Series Active Tourer. Find out why we think it should be high on your family car shortlist in our BMW 2 Series Active Tourer review.

The old BMW 2 Series Active Tourer was quite a controversial car for a brand better known for making desirable sports cars and high-performance saloons. Despite being one of the most affordable BMWs you could buy, it was also one of the most practical. It didn't drive too badly, either.

No surprise, then, that it bucked the SUV trend somewhat. It turned into quite the success, selling in large numbers across Europe and attracting a high percentage of new customers to the BMW brand. Reluctant to upset the apple cart too much, the new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer looks a lot like the old one, albeit with a bigger front grille and a few other cosmetic tweaks here and there.

Don't judge a book by its cover, though, because the 2 Series Active Tourer has been quite significantly updated in a number of key areas. One of the biggest upgrades is the latest BMW iDrive infotainment, similar to that seen on expensive electric vehicles in the form of the BMW iX and BMW i4. It stretches from behind the steering wheel to the centre of the dashboard, and its intuitive layout means you don’t really miss the lack of an iDrive rotary control between the front seats.  

The interior really is very well designed for family life, with room aplenty in there: those up front can be well over six feet tall, and there will still be loads of room for someone the same size to fit behind. Plus, the back chair reclines and slides backwards and forwards on its runners, so you can balance the space available between boot capacity and rear legroom. Okay, so you don’t get the three individual seats fitted to a Volkswagen Touran, but that really is all we could grumble about. 

The boot, meanwhile, operates electrically, has a massive opening, a square shape, and comes dripping with handy features.

Back up at the business end, you’ll find that utility hasn’t come at the expense of quality, there really isn’t much to fault about how the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is put together. Soft-touch plastics are everywhere – even on the tops of the rear doors – and the dashboard gets flashes of brushed aluminium and, depending on what model you go for, unvarnished wood or engineered metal trims.

So, it’s a great family car, then, but is it a great BMW? Diehards will be pleased to know that it drives very well indeed. Spec your Active Tourer in M Sport trim in particular – which adds lowered suspension and adjustable dampers –  and you’ll find this is a car you can drive the wheels off if you really want to, slicing through corners in a way that’s incredibly impressive given how staid it looks.

The engine line-up has changed a bit over time. The petrols include the 170PS 220i, which just about does the job, while the 218PS 223i is better, but not by much. We’d avoid the 136PS 218i – which frankly feels and sounds anaemic – but consider the 150PS 218d diesel. Both these latter engines have now been discontinued, so you'll have to search for them on the used market if you want one. The stars of the show are the PHEV models: the 225e has 245PS and the 230e has 326PS, while both have an official all-electric range of more than 50 miles.

Specified like this, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer hits its brief perfectly. It’s ticks all the boxes in terms of practicality, feels as posh and drives as well as you expect of a BMW, and won’t cost a fortune to run in any specification. 

It may not be the most glamorous BMW to buy, but – like an HGV lorry – we reckon its ability to tackle almost any task could make it one of the most satisfying to own and run. It's certainly one of the best MPVs you can buy.

Looking for a used car for sale? We've got 100s of BMW Approved Used Cars for Sale for you to choose from, including a wide range of BMW 2 Series Active Tourer models for sale. Looking for the older model? You'll need our BMW 2 Series Active Tourer (2014) review.

If you're excited by the prospect of owning something more practical than SUVs like the Audi Q3, Mercedes GLA and BMW X1, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer sounds like the perfect choice. It's more stylish (inside and out) than conventional people carriers like the Volkswagen Touran, while it's not too shabby to drive, either.

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer M Sport is probably the most desirable, with its 18-inch alloy wheels, M Sport adaptive suspension, sports seats and adaptive LED headlights. Don't dismiss the other models, though, particularly the posh Luxury with its leather upholstery and chrome exterior trim.

The 170PS 220i model, meanwhile, is as quick as you probably need from such a focussed family car, keeps the price low and doesn’t cost too much to run. That said, the 218PS 223i is quicker and gets similar fuel economy if you don’t mind the price premium.

The PHEV models, meanwhile, will be the choice for company car drivers.

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is a premium MPV that competes with models such as the more luxurious looking but less fun to drive Mercedes-Benz B-Class, and somewhat stodgy but more practical, seven-seater Volkswagen Touran

Comfort and design: BMW 2 Series Active Tourer interior

"The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer has a logical design with a dashboard that centres on the driver in classic BMW fashion."

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Review 2024: interior front

We found the seats in Luxury models to be tight on the lower legs, but had no issues with the M Sport models' more body-clenching chairs. Either way, you get plenty of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel. 

The Comfort Pack makes it even more relaxing. It adds electrically adjustable front seats, while the driver’s chair has a memory function, lumbar support and an extremely vigorous massage function. You also get a heated steering wheel to complement the heated front seats that are standard on M Sport and Luxury models. 

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer feels like a quality product. You get soft-touch plastics almost everywhere - including on the tops of the back doors where you'll often catch manufacturers scrimping – and metal flashes on the centre console and through the middle of the dashboard.

Luxury models add unvarnished wood trims that could be nicked from a Volvo, while M Sport cars go for an engineered metal finish. 

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer comes as standard with a 10.7-inch digital dashboard and a 10.25-inch centre screen that curves together to form one huge display, similar to the one found in the BMW iX EV. 

High-definition and colourful graphics mean it looks brilliant and the powerful software behind it means that you can swipe through tiles and pinch in and out of maps with pleasing slickness. 

The large tiles and intuitive menus make it easy to operate, which is just as well because the iDrive control you find on more expensive BMWs was apparently too expensive to fit on the 2 Series Active Tourer. 

On the bright side, you do get augmented reality sat-nav, something Mercedes has offered in cars like the A-Class for a few years now. It makes it easy to navigate exactly where you're going as direction arrows hover over an image of the road on the screen. 

It’s one of the few reasons why you wouldn’t use the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that comes fitted as standard and make it easy to mirror the display of your smartphone on the car’s big screen. 

It works when you plug your phone into one of the USB-C plugs in the tray on the car’s centre console. Wireless charging is optional and it comes with a handy (if not very sturdy feeling) clip that holds your phone in place like the safety bar on a roller coaster. 

Anything else? Well, there’s an optional head-up display, which looks a bit dated because it projects onto a separate piece of glass rather than directly onto the windscreen, but its graphics are pin-sharp.

The optional Harman Kardon stereo, meanwhile, produces a crisp and detailed sound, and gives you pretty branded metal speaker covers to boot.

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer feels very roomy for a car of its size. It's 4386mm long and 1824mm wide – 32mm longer and 24mm wider than the car it replaces - although the 2670mm wheelbase remains the same.

Up front, there’s loads of space for tall adults with what feels like a foot of headroom and plenty of space for your knees. 

But it's the back seats that are the real revelation. Even if you’re tall, another tall adult will fit behind you with no issues at all, and the high roof means they get plenty of headroom. Large windows help the cabin feel light and airy.

The back seats also have a couple of tricks up their sleeves that you won’t find in a normal family car: you can slide the rear bench forward and back, and also recline its back rest. The only downside is that you don’t get the three individual rear seats – with three Isofix points – that you get in a Volkswagen Touran, which could swing the VW into favour if you’ve got three kids in baby seats.

That said, the BMW’s back row has Isofix on its outer seats, and plenty of nice features like bright-white LED lighting, a couple of USB-C plugs and an air vent. That said, the shallow tray on the back of the front centre console won’t be much use for anything. 

On the upside, the BMW’s boot is very practical. It opens electrically, has a 415-litre capacity (406 litres in the PHEV) and handy features like a 12V socket, shopping and tie-down hooks as well as a couple of additional cubbies on either side of the load space.

Unfortunately, there are no boot-mounted levers to drop the seats – you’ll find them in the usual place on top of the back rests – but with the rear bench folded away you get a maximum 1405 litres. 

Smaller storage spaces are not hard to come by. You get big door bins, a big glovebox, deep cup holders and a small tray under the floating front-centre armrest. Most of these have a removable rubber lining that makes them easy to keep clean. 

Handling and ride quality: What is the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer like to drive?

"The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer drives better than you’d ever imagine, thanks to attention to detail that sees it get an aluminium bonnet and plastic door hangers to lower the car’s centre of gravity."

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Review 2024: rear dynamic

All versions drive well, but a combination of larger 18-inch wheels, wider tyres and adaptive dampers on suspension that’s 15mm lower than standard, means M Sport models resist lean and grip harder than rest of the range. We’d go as far as to say the M Sport drives like a hot hatch that’s been whacked on the head: mildly stunned, but still capable of leaving you smiling like a Cheshire Cat that’s just wandered into its own creamery. 

Even the brakes are progressive and easily modulated, something that’s hard to do with a 48V mild-hybrid system that harvests power under deceleration.

Thankfully, the driving fun doesn’t come at the cost everyday misery. The BMW’s ride is taught at low speeds – firmer than a Volkswagen Touran – but it's never uncomfortable and it smooths out on the motorway, where the quiet cabin and autonomous driving aids make the 2 Series a relaxed cruiser.

There’s not much to stress about in town, either. The BMW’s controls are light and the automatic gearbox (we’ve not had the chance to try the manual) shuffles through its gears smoothly. Big windows make manoeuvring easy and the automatic creeps at slow speeds so you don’t need to worry about jerky inputs. 

A reversing camera is standard so parking is simple, but the optional 360-degree camera is useful for squeezing through small spaces or getting tight against the kerb without damaging your wheels. It's augmented display also looks very cool on the car’s big screen.

From launch, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer was available with a choice of three petrol engines. The entry-level 218i had 136PS, but we never got to try it. Then there are the 220i and 223i petrols. Both feature 48V mild-hybrid technology that gives the car an electrical boost under acceleration and can also recoup power when you’re coasting: not that you’d know any of this cleverness is going on.

With 170PS and 280NM of torque, the 1.5-litre three-cylinder 220i sounds reasonably potent on paper – 0-62mph takes 8.1 seconds and it has a top speed of 137mph – but it never feels as quick as those numbers suggest. It makes you wonder if the 136PS 218i could feel a little underpowered when it’s fully loaded. 

The 220i four-cylinder increases power to 218PS and you get 360Nm of torque. It doesn’t deliver the step in performance you might expect, but it’s smoother and accelerates more keenly. It has a top speed of 149mph and gets from 0-62mph in 7.0 seconds.

We never got to try the four-cylinder 218d diesel, which has 150PS and 360Nm of torque, but you’d expect it to cope well when your 2 Series Active Tourer is fully loaded. We never will, either as this engine, along with the 218i, has since been discontinued.

If you want real performance, you’ll need the top-of-the-range 326PS 230e plug-in hybrid variant (a 245PS version is also available in the form of the 225e), that we sampled briefly in prototype from. It uses its four-wheel drive to good effect, launching the 2 Series Active Tourer from 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds, or – as BMW's engineers were keen to point out – as quick as an E36 BMW M3 performance saloon from the mid-to-late 90s. That’s progress, etc. 

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer's upright body shape hasn't had any negative effect on interior refinement. There's barely any wind- or engine noise at a cruise, although you will hear a bit of tyre roar emanating from the wheel wells. Engine noise varies from noticeable to slightly harsh when accelerating in the three-cylinder 220i, while the 223i's engine tone sounds fake and digitally enhanced. The PHEV models are extremely quiet in full EV mode. 

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer has been awarded five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, which means it ought to be a very safe family car.

Standard safety features include the usual multitude of airbags, automatic emergency brakes, speed limit assist (which displays the current speed limit on the dashboard), attention assist that warns when you're losing concentration and need a break, and lane assist that can gently steer the car in lane. 

Automated driving aids are optional and mean the 2 Series Active Tourer can drive itself autonomously, accelerating, braking and steering the car around corners, while observing the speed limit.

MPG and fuel costs: What does a BMW 2 Series Active Tourer cost to run?

"The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is a sensible family car so you don't need to worry about it having shockingly high running costs".

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Review 2024: front dynamic

As a result, even the bordering-on-sporty 223i will return nearly 50mpg (47.1mpg) and the 220i returns an almost identical figure (47.9mpg). 

The 218i is the anomaly of the line-up, because the least powerful petrol is also the most inefficient. It's official figure of 45.5mpg gives you an idea of how hard its 136PS engine – the same engine that's fitted to a mid-range MINI 3-door - needs to work at hauling the Active Tourer along. 

Diesel might not be the flavour of the month, but if you spend your weeks chugging up and down the M6 or similar, the 218d makes sense: it'll return up to 58.8mpg in a mixture of driving. 

Similarly, if you do lots of short town drives and can charge your car at home, the PHEV models make a strong case for theirselves. They have a pure-electric range of more than 50 miles in all forms – a 53 per cent improvement on the old PHEV – that means even relatively long commutes can be completed on cheap electric power. However, do bear in mind that their quoted maximum fuel economy of 256.8mpg is pure fantasy brought about by how unrealistically flattering the official tests are to plug-in hybrids, and that your economy will properly fall off a cliff when the battery runs flat.

In the results of the latest Satisfaction Index, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer wasn't name-checked specifically as being particularly good or particularly bad. BMW had one model that featured in the list of the 10 least reliable cars in the study (the 3 Series), but the brand also had one car in the list of the 10 most reliable cars (the i3). Swings and roundabouts, then.

In terms of overall customer satisfaction, BMW finished 12 in the list of 29 carmakers considered, ahead of major rivals Audi and Mercedes. That being the case, there can't be too many disgruntled BMW owners kicking around.

BMW 2 Active Tourer insurance groups range from 22 at the bottom of the range, to 33 for the most powerful plug-in hybrids. That means insurance groups won't be cheap, but they shouldn't be ruinous, either, especially on the more humble variants.

Petrol and diesel versions of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer are subject to the regular flat rate of tax, that flat rate currently sitting at £190 per year. Mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions get a discount of £10 per year on that. Whoop-de-doo.

However, watch out for the premium car tax surcharge for cars costing more than £40,000 when brand new: these command an additional payment for a five-year period between years two and six of the car's life, this extra payment currently standing at £410. Several engine-and-trim combinations bust that price threshold, and several others come close, so adding a few optional extras could easily tip it over. If buying used, we'd always recommend a quick online check with the registration of the car you're considering to make sure you know what you're letting yourself in for.

How much should you be paying for a used BMW 2 Series Active Tourer?

"Prices for the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer start at around £34,000 when bought as a brand new car, and these rise steeply as you progress up the ranges of trim levels and engines. Specify the range-topping PHEV in M Sport trim, and you'll be paying around £47,000."

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Review 2024: side profile

The smart money goes on a used example. Browse the heycar classifieds, and you'll find a broad choice of cars for around the £27,000 mark. These will most likely be 218d diesels or 220i petrols in Sport trim with around 20,000 miles on the clock. If you want one of the plug-in hybrid models, these start at around £30,000.

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is available in three trim levels, called Sport, Luxury and M Sport. 

Sport models come with 17-inch alloy wheels, while inside you'll find cloth upholstery with silver matt interior trims. You also get automatic LED headlights, auto wipers, reversing camera, climate control, plus a 10.7-inch infotainment screen with connected services like live traffic updates.

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Luxury gives (unsurprisingly) a more luxurious feel. They also have 17-inch alloy wheels and you get roof rails for the easy fitment of bike racks and roof boxes. Inside, you get leather upholstery that looks posh and is also easier to keep clean than fabric, plus the front seats are heated.

M Sport models use Sport trim as a base, adding 18-inch alloy wheels and M Sport adaptive suspension. Inside, there's a dual-clutch automatic gearbox with steering-wheel mounted paddles, adaptive LED headlights, heated seats, folding wing mirrors, keyless entry and go, plus wireless phone charging. 

Packs are also available. The Technology Pack includes folding door mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, adaptive LED headlights, auto-dipping headlights and wireless charging. The Tech Pack Plus, meanwhile, adds a parking camera, Parking Assistant Plus, as well as heated and electrically adjustable front seats.

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

Most versions of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer are front-wheel drive, but the plug-in hybrid models are four-wheel drive, with an electric motor turning the back wheels.
The BMW Active Tourer is a five-seater while the Gran Tourer is a seven seater – both have lots of space for their size. However, there's no Gran Tourer version of the current 2 Series Active Tourer.
Yes, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, now in its second generation, gives you a practical family car that's way more fun to drive than you would expect.

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