BMW’s have always lightened the hearts of the men and women behind their steering wheel. Their agility, responsiveness, the feeling of being “one” with the car, this pervades you every minute you drive a four wheeled product of the brand, and this always has been with every BMW. I can tell, as I am writing the report of this test while waiting in line to pass the yearly MOT test of my beloved BMWZ3, built in 1997. (For photos of this, see my instagram page autoprova.be). The sensation is just unique.
The BMW 218d Active Tourer we tested recently is no exception. It puts a smile on your face too. The car itself has now front wheel drive, and purists might look a bit worried here, but the excellence of the handling, the way the BMW engineers have fine tuned the suspension is nothing short of astonishing. The car steers with much precision, stays neutral until very high corner speeds and goes into a mild and controlled understeer when reaching the adhesion limit. The overall typical BMW agility is beautifully maintained.
Of course, this (compact?) SUV has what it takes to enjoy the family. There is plenty of room for five, and a luggage space which will satisfy almost everybody, more about this later.
We absolutely love the BMW typical dashboard architecture, and the design and shape of the digital instrumentation, although we still love the iconic BMW styling of the round dials which adorn for example my now 24 year old BMW Z3.
One might regret that the iDrive round control knob in the centre console – which BMW thankfully had pioneered – has disappeared to manage all the functions and settings, and from now on everything has to be selected on the 10.25 inch touchscreen,
but this seems to be the trend of the times, and we have to admit that the functions are very logical and self explaining, albeit sometimes one has to search quite “deep” in the menu.
We very much liked also the gearbox selector neatly placed on a “floating” control pad which leaves space underneath for sunglasses, driving gloves and sundry. It has also a handy rolling control for audio volume, a knob for selecting the different driving modes, parking cameras and auto hold. Of course the start stop button lodges there too. We also liked the charging pad for the phone, which holds the phone upright, and tight so it does not slide around when you indulge yourself in some very spirited driving.
The screen graphics and the screen definition are a joy to behold, and this enhances the high quality feel this BMW gives you. Note that the touchscreen and its functions are the same as you find in the flagship BMW’s… The touch and feel of the upholstery and dashboard surfaces and panels is also top notch.
The magic of Diesel…
We tested the two liter diesel engine version of the Active Tourer, and it proved again masterfully how wonderful modern diesels have become. The four cylinder 1995 cc unit is ultra smooth, coupled to an 8 Steptronic speed automatic, it provided a velvety yet powerful energy flow to the front wheels. It has plenty of power with 110/150 kW/hp, and has ample torque of 350 Nm, which is available over a wide rev range between 1750 – 2500 rpm. You don’t hear it at speed, nor does it emit any vibrations. Performance is excellent we would think, with a 0 to 100 km/h acceleration time of merely 9 seconds. Top speed is a good 213 km/h, and we took our Active Tourer on a trip to Düsseldorf to have a go on the legendary German Autobahnen, and we enjoyed the high speed qualities of the Active Tourer to the full. We have to admit, this is what this (and many other) BMW’s are built for…
This effortless high speed driving and zesty touring in our cities and highways doesn’t cost you much energy with this marvelous frugal diesel. We clocked an average consumption of merely 5 litres/100 km. According to WLTP norm, the average consumption for the 8 speed Steptronic is quoted at between 5,2-4,9 l/100 km. Need we say more? This means, considering a tank capacity of 51 litres, you have an action radius of a good 1.000 km. This lets you dream, doesn’t it? How we enjoyed this mobility freedom with this diesel…
Good to know that its emission rating is 6D, and still according to WLTP norm it emits between 135-128 g/km of CO2.
This is a compact SUV, or crossover, and it offers resulting from its body shape plenty of space also in the back seats. It is practical too. The rear seats slide fore and aft easily via manual locking mechanisms, so you can choose between more luggage space or better legroom. One has 470 liters in standard configuration, extendable to 1,455 liters with the rear seat backrests folded down.
A well made car with a stylish interior and excellent and frugal performance, and of course wonderful, care-free mobility in this diesel version. Refined too, with good comfort, excellent handling (certainly for a SUV). It doesn’t come exactly cheap, but as said, it is built for a very, very long service life, and this will reflect itself in overall very little depreciation. Last but not least, there is the emotional factor: it’s a BMW… made to make you smile behind the wheel.
Hans Knol ten Bensel