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BMW 2 Series Active Tourer long-term review

Has BMW’s small MPV got what it takes to be a photographer’s workhorse?

Words ByJohn Bradshaw

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The car BMW 220d Active Tourer M Sport
Run by John Bradshaw
Needs to Cope with everything a photographer throws its way
Run by What Car? since May 2015

My rating

Since the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer went on sale last year, the small MPV has already made a case for being the brand’s most family-friendly model yet.

With its high roofline, adjustable rear seating and long wheelbase, it’s undoubtedly a practical package, but how will it cope with being a photographer’s workhorse for 12 months?

Our Active Tourer is powered by the same 187bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel that propels all BMWs with a β€˜20d’ badge. The engine certainly feels strong and punchy enough, and has already earned respect for its cruising ability on long-distance journeys.

It’s paired with a six-speed manual gearbox. With its lighter clutch and much smoother gearshift it’s better than the one fitted to my old BMW 3 Series GT.

In M Sport spec, and finished in optional Estoril Blue (Β£550), the car looks superb. For such a practical vehicle, it’s surprising how small the BMW actually is. It is just 4.3 metres long, 1.8m wide and 1.5m high, and when parked alongside a five-door Volkswagen Golf, it appears to be only marginally bigger to the eye.

As standard, all 2 Series Active Tourers have 16in alloy wheels, all-round electric windows, DAB radio, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and automatic lights and wipers.

We’ve plumped for the range-topping M Sport trim, which gains sportier exterior styling, stiffer suspension, 18in alloy wheels, leather seats and the M Sport multi-function steering wheel.

We’ve also been a bit over-enthusiastic with the options list. BMW’s Technology package, which brings a reversing camera, comfort access and adaptive LED headlights, adds Β£1095, while the Navigation Plus package, with its online service and real-time traffic information capabilities, adds Β£2095.

Other expensive highlights include the electric front seats with driver memory (Β£650), heated front seats (Β£295) and the Advanced Loudspeaker system (Β£295). All-up, our 220d M Sport Active Tourer costs Β£35,090.

I like the cabin, and the driving position suits me. I prefer an upright, van-like position to the sportier low-slung style offered by some estate cars, and the BMW strikes a good compromise between the two.

Space and practicality appear to be very good. When the front seats are in their normal position, leg room in the rear is generous. Switchgear and buttons are logically placed around the cabin and within easy reach.

As someone fresh from the CitroΓ«n Grand C4 Picasso’s hugely frustrating touchscreen infotainment system, I find the BMW’s iDrive rotary controller is a breath of fresh air. It’s intuitive and incredibly natural to toggle menus on the move, which means I can concentrate on the business of driving.

At 468 litres with the rear seats up, the boot isn’t what you’d call huge. However, it does have an underfloor storage compartment that is useful for swallowing cleaning equipment and small bits of camera gear. With the seats folded flat, the boot’s capacity expands to 1510 litres.

Over the next few months, one of my biggest questions will be whether the Active Tourer suits my role as a photographer as well as my previous car, the Grand C4 Picasso.

It’s not just how the BMW copes with my occupation, either. With one of my sons coming home from university this summer, it will have to play the role of home-mover in the same way the impressively practical CitroΓ«n did, so competently, last year.

BMW 220d Active Tourer M Sport statistics

Price Β£29,005
Target price click here for latest Target Price
Price as tested Β£35,090
Extras BMW Navigation Plus pack (Β£2095); Technology pack (Β£1095); electric front seats and driver memory (Β£650); Estoril Blue metallic paint (Β£550); folding, auto-dimming exterior mirrors (Β£420); front seat heating (Β£295); BMW Advanced Loudspeaker system (Β£295); sun protection glass (Β£270); Electronic Damper Control (Β£150); bike rack preparation (Β£160); luggage compartment separating net (Β£105)

Mileage to date 5624
Test fuel economy 42.8mpg
True MPG 48.5mpg
CO2/tax liability 119g/km, 21%
Contract hire Β£383
Cost per mile 56p
Insurance group 21
Typical quote Β£618