THE first front-wheel-drive BMW is set to spawn some family focused siblings and more drivetrains.
Before the tradition-breaking five-door hits the roads in Australia in November, BMW engineers have already confirmed there will be a seven-seat version, all-wheel-drive models and a hybrid.
“The seven-seat will be early in 2015,” said Active Tourer chassis engineer Martin Schuster. “The xDrive will be late in 2014.”
With the 2 Series Active Tourer is focused heavily on attracting new customers to the German brand, BMW is keen to capitalise on its controversial decision to finally follow other manufacturers in producing front-wheel-drive vehicles.
The seven-seat version will be 20cm longer, with the extra length added behind the rear wheels; the wheelbase remains the same as the regular 2AT.
The xDrive all-wheel-drive model is also being readied, although, as with other xDrive models, BMW Australia has no plans to sell it locally.
But it’s the hybrid 2 Series Active Tourer that could be one of the most interesting of the spin-offs.
Schuster confirmed the 2AT Hybrid would be on sale “maybe the end of 2015” and hinted it would likely stick to the configuration used in the Concept Active Tourer show car unveiled in 2012.
That car used a three-cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels and an electric motor driving the rear wheels. It could be recharged and driven on electricity alone for up to 30km.
“The hybrid discussion is very interesting,” said Schuster, refusing to outline the details of the production version.
But he noted BMW’s history of unveiling concept cars that are close to the models that end up in showrooms.
“You know that BMW strategy about concept cars … not totally wrong.”
Karch says there are no plans for a high-performance M version of the Active Tourer, although he left the door open.
“It’s not planned to have an M Active Tourer,” said Karch. “At the moment, the M versions [of other BMWs] just stay with rear-wheel drive.”
However, BMW product communications manager Kai Lichte suggested all-wheel drive could provide the performance and dynamics expected of a BMW M car, in much the same way as Mercedes-Benz uses AWD for high-performance AMG versions of its A-Class, CLA and GLA.
“There would not be an M version, probably not even an M Performance version of a front-wheel-drive car,” Lichte said. “It would be related to rear-wheel drive or xDrive (four-wheel drive).
“It’s a matter of physics. A car with more than 300 horsepower (220kW) to the front wheels … it wouldn’t make sense. You couldn’t bring the power to the road.”