BMW's improved 2 Series Active Tourer five-seat compact MPV continues to feature the option of the Munich brand's latest Plug-in technology. It makes quite a difference too. The 225xe version of this car uses a BMW eDrive electric motor and a 1.5-litre three-cylinder BMW TwinPower Turbo engine to offer both an electric driving experience and unrestricted mobility. The resulting combined fuel consumption of 113mpg and CO2 emissions figure of 57g/km set the benchmark in the class.
If you don't get around to telling your passengers that this 2 Series Active Tourer features cutting-edge Plug-in hybrid power, they probably won't guess. There's almost nothing about this car, either to look at or to drive, that proclaims eco-consciousness and green-friendly smugness - which is probably what potential buyers will like most about it. You might like to tell your business colleagues around the water cooler that the 1.5-litre TwinPower petrol turbo engine it uses is the same as that in BMW's i8 supercar: then again, you probably won't bother. That would draw attention - which is precisely what a typical 225xe owner wouldn't want.
If you do put your foot down and use that MINI Cooper engine to its maximum, then things go pretty rapidly: 62mph is 6.7s away en route to 126mph. Better though to settle back and try and maximise the claimed 25-mile all-electric driving range. We say 'claimed' because it's unlikely you'll replicate that unless you drive like a nun. Around 15-20 miles is more achievable. Like all 2 Series Active Tourer models, this one drives through its front wheels in a very un-BMW-like fashion.
BMW has tried to liven up the look of this revised version a little with a larger front kidney grille, redesigned front fog lamps, smarter wheel designs and twin tail pipes. Otherwise, things are much as before. Intentionally, the brand has kept the visual changes that differentiate this 225xe variant from its conventionally-engined range stablemates to an absolute minimum. Which will leave potential buyers needing to like the standard 2 Series Active Tourer model's quite conservative design.
The short overhangs and long wheelbase, the wedgy profile, the L-shaped rear lights, the crisp contours and the smart swage lines all point to this Munich maker. It also seems sportier than you might expect a car of this kind to be, courtesy of things like the steeply raked windscreen and the way that the distinctive double kidney grille is positioned lower than the headlights.
Inside, there are sliding and reclining rear seats that allow you to prioritise space for passengers or luggage. Maximum boot space is a respectable 400-litres. The rear bench is a versatile thing that can split 40:20:40 and when fully folded there's access to up to 1,350-litres. The front passenger seat also folds to accommodate items up to 2.4m long. Up-front, as usual in the brand's modern models, the iDrive infotainment set-up's freestanding multifunction colour screen takes pride of place in the middle of the fascia, though the display is not of the current trendy touchscreen variety, controlled instead by a circular rotary dial down by the gearstick.
Did you ever expect to see a BMW MPV built around front wheel drive, a three-cylinder engine and electric power? I'm not sure I ever did. Still, in this 225xe, we've got exactly that and it's a package that actually makes a lot of sense for the right practicality-orientated family buyer - someone with a business-minded eye on their taxation status who still enjoys their driving.
This probably isn't the BMW you dreamed of owning in your school or college days. But it could well be the one you actually need.Click here to find out more about our Mercedes-Benz B-Class range