Fleet operators who want their vehicles to reflect greater concern for the environment are expected to boost sales of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer.
With its petrol engine supplemented by an electric motor, the new plug-in hybrid model will have strong appeal in the corporate sector, believes Ian Wasp, product manager for BMW UK.
“Since its introduction at the end of 2014, the Active Tourer has become something of a segment benchmark and our pure electric i3 model has also been a great success over the same period,” he said.
“This new product puts them both together in a car that offers a best-of-both-worlds solution for the growing number of companies who want to combine high efficiency transport with green credentials.
“Potential savings for fleet operators are phenomenal because trips of up to 25 miles can be completed in EV mode, and as more businesses are keen to show their customers they care about environmental issues, we are confident our car will tap into this new corporate desire.”
Available from April, the model is the first premium hybrid in its market segment and the only plug-in car to feature an on-demand electric all-drive system.
BMW’s current fleet of vehicles has a number of green models available – but the company wants to push efficient cars further to the forefront of its model line-up and has developed a range of systems to help support it.
With the recent launches of the BMW 330e and 225xe plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models, the German giant now has a number of plug-in options spread across a variety of different market sectors. The X5 40e SUV has already been launched this year and the 740e PHEV is due too, giving BMW four PHEV models in its line-up in 2016 alone.
Add to that the i3 EV, i3 REX and i8 PHEV and BMW has a number of options available for those looking at plug-in models – compact citycars, a family MPV, a compact executive saloon, large SUV, luxury saloon and supercar.
BMW has also confirmed that it is continuing to work on hydrogen fuel cell (HFV) technology, to create a combination of set-ups – pure electric for short, regular journeys, and HFV for longer runs.
The new BMWs X5 xDrive 40e, 330e, 225xe, and 740e models are the first products to benefit from the research and development carried out by BMW’s iCars division. The i3 and i8 remain at the cutting edge of BMW’s efficiency programmes, but the lessons learnt from those models is already being filtered down to the next generation of ‘standard’ models.
BMW has announced that these PHEV variants will be grouped together under the banner of iPerformance – set to be launched at the Geneva Motor Show alongside the plug-in 7-Series. This brand is intended to indicate to customers the plug-in electric systems under the skin, and increased use of carbon fibre in some cases, despite the cars looking relatively normal, and not as futuristic as the i3 and i8.
BMW expands their range of plug-in hybrids with the four-wheel drive 225xe. Does a 25-mile electric only range increase the 2 Series Active Tourer’s appeal?
The plug-in hybrid has proved a popular choice for many in the UK.
Given the tax breaks and sizeable government grant plug-in vehicles receive, it’s no surprise to see BMW expanding their range of hybrids to include the 2 Series Active Tourer, particularly given that it’ll be one of the very few plug-in cars in this high-roofed, five-seat MPV class.
The 225xe has enough battery capacity to run for up to 25 miles on electricity alone before the 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine kicks in to give you just as much range as a standard petrol 2 Series.
Even this limited electric range gives it some impressive claimed fuel economy and CO2 emissions figures. The 225xe emits 46g/km of CO2 – meaning it falls into the lowest company car tax band – and has a combined fuel economy figure of 141.2mpg.
What is the 2016 BMW 225xe Active Tourer like to drive?
Driven carefully and with a fully charged battery, the 225xe acts just like an electric car. Around town, it’s easy to keep the engine from firing unless you either flatten the throttle or switch the car to battery save mode to preserve charge.
If you’re determined to run on volts alone, there’s an electric-only mode that will prevent the petrol engine from running even under harder acceleration. As you would expect, though, the quicker you gain speed and the higher your speed, the sooner the battery runs out.
Once the battery is fully depleted, the engine runs for much longer periods of time. This means the 141.2mpg figure is only achievable over short distances where the car can run in electric mode for much of the time.
Thanks to the relatively small capacity of the battery, charging doesn’t take too long even off a normal three-pin plug, which will charge the battery in 3.5 hours. A BMW supplied Wallbox charger will cut that to two hours and 45 minutes.
There are other benefits to the hybrid system; while the 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine produces just 134bhp, the rear-mounted electric motor produces another 87bhp. That means there’s 221bhp with both working together, enough for a 0-62mph time of just 6.7sec accompanied by a sporty sounding warble from the engine.
BMW’s expansion of its non-i hybrid portfolio continues, as hot on the heels of the 330e is the 225xe Active Tourer. Yes, that means it’s a petrol-electric version of Munich’s unusual mini-MPV, but a tour on mixed roads near the company’s Bavarian headquarters revealed a few surprises in the 2 Series’ armoury…
A BMW 2 Series Active Tourer that has been given the drivetrain of the i8 sports car. Sort of. But turned through 180 degrees. So, for the 225xe you get all three modes of traction in one: in Auto eDrive, the car’s software chooses from and mixes up the 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol’s 136hp and the rear-mounted electric motor’s 88hp, giving you all-wheel drive; switch to Save, and only the engine and the front axle are used, while the on-board lithium-ion battery pack is replenished by both the combustion engine and the regenerative brakes; and finally, in Max eDrive, providing you have charge, then the 2 Series becomes rear-wheel drive and fully electric with zero emissions.
This clever system, all packaged up in the practical if rather cumbersome Active Tourer body, makes this an ideal car for daily commuters with young families who live in cities where there are extremes of weather. Which might sound like a narrow window of opportunity, but actually there’s a bigger market for such a 2 AT than you might expect. BMW reckons that after the US and Japan, the UK, Holland and Germany will lap this thing up.
Prices are extremely competitive for the PHEV. It starts at £35,155, so with the £5,000 Government grant that brings it down to a little more than £30,000; cheaper than the 225i xDrive’s £32,010. However, from March 1 the rules change and the 225xe will be a Category 2 Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV), meaning the grant reduces to £2,500, making the 2 AT PHEV at least £32,655. Pricey, perhaps, but for that, you’ll get a part-electric, all-wheel drive, premium, five-seat MPV, which puts it in a class of… one, for the time being. And, visually, it looks like any 2 Series Active Tourer, save for the external ‘225xe’ and ‘eDrive’ badging, the ‘extra filler’ charging port flap on the front nearside wing and an interior that features a lot of blue lighting and stitching, a few extra hybrid-related screens in its digital displays and an eDrive button on the centre console. Pretty, the 225xe ain’t, but with regards to its primary purpose of shuttling people about, it is at least functional.
How does it drive?
On the face of it, marvellously well. It’s another blinding integration of electrification by BMW, as the 225xe feels superb on first acquaintance. The petrol-electric drivetrain is great at nipping what is a fairly hefty machine (1,660kg) through town and once the roads open out, the Two’s full punch is pretty impressive. The steering’s great, the six-speed Steptronic auto is an utter gem, the brakes are… well, they’re good, although the task of harvesting energy for the battery under deceleration always makes them feel just a little odd underfoot, but generally it proves to be a likeable, premium motor to cruise about in. The three-cylinder engine also makes a great noise under hard acceleration, which is a boon.
BMW’s plug-in hybrid extravaganza continues with its 225xe Active Tourer, offering practicality allied to tiny CO2 emissions and pure electric drive
What is it?:
The BMW 225xe Active Tourer takes the fundamentals of the petrol-electric hybrid driveline layout first unveiled on the i8 sports car and turns it 180deg, creating an intriguing four-wheel-drive hatchback-cum-MPV capable of travelling up to 25 miles on electric power alone.
This allows the new five-seater to claim combined cycle fuel consumption of 141mpg and average CO2 emissions of just 46g/km on the controversial EU test cycle – figures that see it qualify for the UK government’s OLEV grant and mean it is exempt from congestion charges such as that in place in central London.
The new BMW is based around the front-wheel-drive 218i Active Tourer. However, some significant engineering changes have taken place to turn it into the four-wheel-drive 225xe Active Tourer, which is planned to go on sale in the UK in March at a price of £33,055.
While the i8 boasts electric drive on the front wheels, the imminently more practical 225xe employs electric drive on the rear wheels via a BMW-produced electric motor mounted within its rear axle assembly that delivers 87bhp and 122lb ft and provides drive via a fixed-ratio gearbox acting as a rear differential.
A similar change in configuration is reserved for the combustion engine. The turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol unit employed by the i8 sits in an east-west position behind the cabin and channels drive to the rear wheels, but the similar configured powerplant in the 225xe is mounted transversely up front and directs its reserves to the front wheels.
The petrol engine boasts the same tuning as that of the 218i Active Tourer, serving up 134bhp and 162lb ft on a reasonably wide band of revs between 1250 and 4300rpm. As on the i8, the moderate reserves are channelled through a six-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifts mounted on the steering wheel.
Altogether, there’s a combined system output of 221bhp and 284lb ft. It’s not the most powerful 2-Series Active Tourer model, though. That honor rests with the 225i, whose turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine makes 228bhp and 258lb ft.
Electrical energy used to run the electric motor is sourced from a 7.6kWh lithium ion battery mounted underneath the rear seat in the same space as the fuel tank is located in conventionally powered Active Tourers.
As a result, the fuel tank has been reduced in capacity by 15 litres to 36 litres. It’s now also made of steel rather than plastic and is pressurised to allow petrol to be stored safely over longer periods if the 225xe is used predominantly in electric mode. The rear seat has also been raised by 30mm to accommodate the battery, which uses the same cells as that employed by the new 330e.
Even so, boot capacity has been reduced by 70 litres to 400 litres owing to the packaging of the power electronics in the front section of the boot floor.
Aside from a flap integrated in the front left-hand wing, housing the socket for charging cable, the 225xe looks like any other 2-Series Active Tourer. Recharging time on regular mains electricity is claimed to take 3hr 15min, with an optional high-power wall box reducing this to 2hr 15min.
BMW’s new 2-Series Active Tourer and 3-Series plug-in hybrid range priced from £35,005 and £33,935 respectively
After their debut at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW has revealed pricing for its two new plug-in hybrid models, the 330e and 225xe. The petrol-electric 3-Series is on sale now, while the 2-Series Active Tourer will be available from March.
The 330e starts from £33,935 in SE trim and is available in all other trims in the 3-Series range. It also remains a dedicated rear-wheel drive sports saloon. The £35,005 225xe, on the other hand, is a standalone model that previews one of the key powertrains planned for the X1 and for the upcoming X2.
The 225xe takes its powertrain inspiration from BMW’s bravest shape, the i8, effectively taking its combination of electric and petrol motors and turning them around.
The newest niche to be conquered by BMW is filled by the 2 Series Active and Gran Tourers.
These front-wheel drive hatchbacks mark a couple of firsts for BMW, namely the front-wheel drive and transverse engine mounting. These two cars aren’t going over very well with enthusiasts, but are doing great in sales in Europe. Well, BMW has decided that the new 2 Series Active Tourer is doing well enough that it wants to give it a new model. An eDrive plug-in hybrid model.
The 2 Series Active Tourer eDrive will feature BMW’s 1.5 liter three-cylinder TwinPower engine, transversely mounted powering the front wheels through a six-speed automatic, and an 88hp / 136 Nm/100 lb-ft of torque electric motor, powering the rear wheels through a two-speed transmission. This essentially makes the 2 Series Active Tourer eDrive a backwards i8, as the i8 uses a similar setup, but with the engine at the rear and motor at the front. Compared to a 225i xDrive model, this adds some 150 kg or 330 pounds. The gasoline engine produces 100 kW/136 hp and 220 Nm/162 pound-feet of torque/electric.
Like the i8, the 2 Series AT eDrive will deliver its power instantaneously, thanks to the torque fill effect of the electric motors adding power while the turbocharger gathers boost. This will shuttle the 2 Series AT eDrive from 0-62 mph in 6.5 seconds. Not bad for a front-wheel drive hybrid.
It’s all change in BMW world on various levels. The 2-series Active Tourer is the first front-wheel drive BMW. The brand’s first MPV, too. And in 2015, it’ll join the ranks of BMW’s burgeoning plug-in hybrid set.
The technology will be shared with the next X1 – and what’s unusual about Munich’s solution is that it powers the rear wheels.
Yes, that’s right: the 2015 BMW 2-series Active Tourer eDrive will be four-wheel drive.
The plug-in hybrid story
While almost all rival hybrids drive the front wheels, BMW’s eDrive concept connects to the rear wheels via a 102bhp/184lb ft electric motor.
According to sources from within Munich’s corridors of R&D, this application offers distinct traction and weight distribution benefits, along with four-wheel torque vectoring.
Decoded: the new BMW people carrier will be quicker and sharper driving, as well as cleaner. And four-wheel drive may well tempt away buyers of regular SUVs to try this taller-riding BMW.
BMW initially showed the Active Tourer as a concept car powered by a plug-in hybrid unit. BMW quoted 113mpg and 60g/km CO2 emissions, although these numbers will be diluted for production, we expect.
A lithium ion battery packs offers a zero-emissions EV range of up to 20 miles, while the 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine takes over when the battery is depleted.