Driving position and dashboard
There’s plenty of adjustment to the driving position, so it’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel, and all models have a central armrest. The standard manual adjustment is a bit awkward to use, though, because you have to lift or drop your body weight to alter the seat’s height.
Sports seats, which bring better lateral support, are optional on entry-level SE trim; it’s worth paying extra for them because they come with variable side support and (manually) extendable thigh support. Adjustable lumbar support is an additional optional extra, as is electric adjustment with memory. Stepping up to Sport trim brings these improved front seats as standard. Our only complaint is that these sports seats have a long base, even with the thigh support pushed all the way in. This can make them a little uncomfortable for shorter-legged individuals.
BMW has kept the dashboard layout simple, with minimal yet clear buttons for the audio shortcuts and easy-to-use rotary dials for the climate control. Most functions are controlled through BMW’s excellent iDrive system, which is navigated via the standard high-set colour screen and large rotary controller, making for an intuitive interface. The Tech Pack is an expensive option available across the range, but does include a head-up display, which beams the car’s speed and a variety of other information that you can select onto a glass panel directly in the driver’s line of sight.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The 2 Series Active Tourer may have split windscreen pillars to add some additional glass between the screen and side windows, but front visibility is poor. Both pillars are very chunky, making pulling out of junctions or approaching pedestrian crossings tricky.
Side visibility is better, thanks to a low windowline, although you do get slightly better rear three-quarter visibility in the boxier Volkswagen Golf SV. Kids in the back might also find their view out a little more restricted than in some rivals, including the Golf SV and Citroën C4 Picasso. This is slightly better in the 225xe, thanks to a rear bench that’s mounted 30mm higher because of the battery.
Rear parking sensors are standard across the range and you can add front parking sensors to any model, although it’s only available as part of the Driver Pack. This package is a fair price given that it also features park assist, which senses an appropriately sized parallel parking space and steers the car automatically into the bay. A reversing camera is also available, but again only as part of a pack – this time it’s the pricey Vision Pack, which includes LED headlights.
Sat nav and infotainment
All models get a well-specced infotainment system including a 6.5in colour screen, a multi-function steering wheel, Bluetooth, a CD player, USB input and a digital radio. Unusually, it also has sat-nav as standard on all trim levels – a pricey option on most rivals – so there really is no need to add extras, since this rotary dial-controlled system is the best in the class for usability.
Even so, many buyers will opt to upgrade to Navigation Plus as part of the Tech Pack; this brings an 8.8in touchscreen complete with traffic avoidance, online functionality with app support, a bigger colour screen in the driver’s binnacle and head-up display. You even get wireless charging for compatible devices in the central armrest. Although this system is pricey, you do get plenty of extra functionality and it is the best infotainment system currently available in any MPV.
You can add an enhanced Bluetooth function that allows connection of multiple devices, enables wireless charging, improves reception in the car via the external aerial and adds extra microphones, meaning the front passenger can also talk via a hands-free connection. This is standard with the Tech Pack.
Interior quality is impressive; there are plenty of dense, soft-touch plastics in all the right places, the switchgear feels substantial and everything is solidly built. Even when you fold down the rear seats or prod around lower down in the footwells, the materials make the 2 Series Active Tourer feel like an upmarket car and it’s noticeably better finished than any other MPV, including the Golf SV and Mercedes-Benz B-Class.