We’ve only driven the 2.0-litre diesel engine in the 218d and 220d, and the three-cylinder, 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine in the 218i and 225xe, all of which are worth a look. The 218d is punchy enough once it gets going at around 1800rpm, but if you let the revs drop too low or hit a steep hill, you’ll have to change down a gear to maintain your speed, although if you add the optional eight-speed automatic – one of the best autos in the class – then it disguises the engine’s shortage of low-down response.
Even with the auto, you’ll still notice that the 218d Active Tourer isn’t fast, so you’ll occasionally need to work it hard for decent overtaking performance. The 220d is worth looking at if you value a sportier-feeling engine, or if you regularly carry a full load of passengers and luggage, but the 218d is usefully cheaper to buy and will be more than adequate for the majority of buyers, even those who do lots of motorway miles.
The 218i has an engine taken from the Mini, which sounds like it would struggle in a car as big as the 2 Series Active Tourer, but that’s not the case. You will have to work the engine fairly hard through the standard six-speed gearbox if you want hearty acceleration, but generally it’s just as adequate in everyday driving as the 218d, thanks to a broad spread of torque.
This engine is also found in the 225xe, alongside a battery pack and rear-mounted electric motor. Performance from a standing start is strong, but this tails off as speeds increase thanks to the weight of the added hybrid componentry.