What's the used BMW 2 Series estate like?
It marked a break from tradition for BMW in that it was one of the firm's first front-wheel-drive cars rather than the company’s more usual bread and butter of rear-wheel drive. This has two benefits, the first being that the vehicle doesn’t need a large central transmission tunnel, which would impact rear leg room. It also means that the model can be built on the same platform as the Mini – a car known for its agile handling.
Engines & Performance: There’s a diverse and impressive choice of engines, and the quality of options is right up there with the very best of the MPV class. The 218i is the pick of the petrols, offering punchy performance from its three-cylinder engine and a 0-62mph time of 9.3sec. If you want even more pace, the 220i will do the same sprint two seconds quicker and offer more flexible performance if you’re carrying passengers and luggage.
If you are regularly carrying lots of stuff over lots of miles, though, you’ll want to look at the diesels. The entry-level 216d is pretty sluggish, but the 220d is nippy by MPV standards – it’s almost as quick as the 220i petrol – and strong from low revs. But the best value diesel is the one in the middle, the 218d.
The 2.0 diesel engines in the 218d and 220d may not be quite as hushed as their equivalent in the VW Touran but it’s not bad at all. The 218i’s petrol engine has a characterful burble to it, although it’s quite hushed when you’re not accelerating.
Buyers who'll do mainly short journeys will probably be interested in the 225xe plug-in hybrid option. It has the same three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine as the 218i, but adds a small battery pack and rear-mounted electric motor. It’s the quickest engine in the line-up, and is said to be able to travel up to 33 miles on pure electric power alone (the figure will be more like 25 miles in real-world driving conditions).
The 225xe proves even more impressive because of its silent electric-only running. Even when the engine kicks in, it does so smoothly. The standard six-speed auto isn’t quite as impressive as the eight-speed unit in the non-hybrids, but it is still smooth.
Ride & Handling: The 2 Series Active Tourer’s ride is a little unsettled at low speeds and over rough surfaces, but it’s a lot better on fast country roads and motorways, and deals with large imperfections such as speed bumps very well.
For a tall MPV, the 2 Series Active Tourer changes direction nimbly. Its steering – which has three weight options as standard – inspires plenty of confidence while also being light enough for easy use in tight parking spots.
There’s a bit of lean when you corner quickly but it's not bad by the standard of the class, and the body is kept in check over undulations or awkward cambers.
Interior & Practicality: The primary function of the Active Tourer is as family transport. To that end, BMW has put a lot of effort into the usability of the available space. You may not like the look of the raised roofline, but it does help when putting children into their safety seats in the back, and the rear seats split 40:20:40, which helps if you need to carry both longer loads and passengers.
In some versions, the front passenger seat can be folded down flat to increase the load area further. There are also lots of interior cubbies and bins, in which stuff can be hidden away from prying eyes. And all of these nooks and crannies are very nicely finished, much more so than in the Mercedes B-Class. The Active Tourer feels a cut above its rivals in this regard.
Trims & Equipment: There are four equipment levels: base SE, Sport, Luxury and M Sport. Although SE is well equipped, buyers might look to luxury for its more premium finish or M Sport for its sportier look and suspension.
What used BMW 2 Series estate will I get for my budget?
Thanks to a huge choice of engines, power outputs and even a hybrid option, there will be a BMW 2 Series Active Tourer to suit most pockets.
High-mileage BMW 218d SE models begin at around £8000. However, if you up the budget to £13,500 to £14,000, you can find the same model with 20,000 or 30,000 miles, or even some models in a higher spec.
Petrol versions aren’t quite so numerous and will probably have covered fewer miles than their diesel counterparts, meaning prices are a little higher. The 218i versions can cost around £9000. Later Active Tourers from 2020 and 2021 go for around £13,000 – the 225xe goes for similar dosh.
Check the value of a used 2 Series Active Tourer with What Car? Valuations
How much does it cost to run a BMW 2 Series estate?
All models registered after April 2017 will cost £155 per year to tax, but for cars registered before this date, running costs vary.
The cheapest-to-run models are the 216d and the 225xe, as the road tax for both of these is free, although in the case of the 225xe this is outweighed somewhat by the high purchase price. These two are also supposed to achieve the best MPG, with the 216d claiming 74.3mpg and the 225xe rated at 99.9mpg. Unless you charge this plug-in hybrid after every journey, however, you’re unlikely to achieve that fuel economy figure.
The next models are the 218d, with road tax of £20 and a claimed 68.9mpg, and the 218i, at £30 and 55.4mpg. The most expensive Active Tourers to run are the 220d xDrive (£115 and 64.2mpg), and the 225i xDrive (£190 and 44.1mpg). Both of these offer four-wheel drive, which makes them considerably more expensive to run than their front-wheel-drive siblings. BMW recognised this and does offer the 220d in front-wheel-drive form. This cuts road tax to £30 and it should do seven more miles to the gallon, at 64.2mpg.
Which used BMW 2 Series estate should I buy?
The extra torque of the diesel engines available in the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer make them our recommended choice for powering this car. If you regularly carry passengers, you will appreciate the fact you don’t have to rev the engine out in order to get anywhere. Of the diesel range, we’d suggest you look for a 218d; with 148bhp, it offers the best blend of performance, economy and low-cost road tax. When paired with the fantastic eight-speed automatic gearbox, it makes for a very relaxing premium MPV.
If you don’t need to cover lots of miles, then you should consider the 218i, which features a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine with 134bhp. It's quiet when on a cruise and has an interesting burble to it while accelerating.
Our favourite BMW 2-series Active Tourer: 218d SE
What alternatives should I consider to a used BMW 2 Series estate?
The Mercedes B-Class does have some classy touches to its interior – such as the metal air vents – and there is plenty of usable interior space. But it doesn’t drive as well as the BMW and big wheels ruin the ride and create quite a lot of road roar. Plus the engines are rather vocal when you need strong acceleration.
The stylish Citroen C4 Picasso is actually quite good value; it doesn’t pretend to be a sporty drive, instead erring more towards comfort and practicality. The infotainment is nowhere near as good as it is in the BMW, however.
The Volkswagen Golf SV is a quiet and good-handling MPV; it is based on the standard Golf, after all. It's quite expensive compared with rivals and its interior isn’t quite as practical, or as nicely finished, as the BMW's.