For decades, BMW has been defined by its rear drive sport sedans, sport coupes and roadsters. In recent years, that menu has expanded to include SUVs as well, but the primary emphasis has remained rear-wheel or all-wheel-drive. Until now, that is, as the BMW Concept Active Tourer will be the marque’s first front-wheel-drive effort.
More of an MPV than a traditional crossover, the Active Tourer features a high seating position with ample headroom and reasonable cargo space, without the box-on-box looks of a traditional crossover. Inside, the Active Tourer serves up the expected BMW luxury, which could put it to the head of its class in this regards.
The Active Tourer is a plug-in hybrid, which means power comes from either an electric motor, a turbocharged three-cylinder engine, or both. In battery-only mode, the range is around 12 miles, which is enough to get most commuters from home to work. In combined mode, the 1.5-liter gasoline engine powers the front wheels, while the electric motor powers the rear wheels, giving the Active Tourer all-wheel-drive under certain conditions.
With a combined output of 190 horsepower, the Concept Active Tourer can dash from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in under eight seconds, which is respectable for a compact crossover.
BMW isn’t clear on whether or not this concept will see production, or where it will be sold if it does hit the market. We see it as a design exercise, and if enough people tell BMW, “yes, build this,” it’s very likely they will. Even if it never sees an assembly line, expect to see the front-drive platform used on future 1-Series models, as well as the plug-in hybrid drivetrain.
Whether or not a front-drive BMW can still be called “the ultimate driving machine” remains to be seen.