Due to be launched in the European market on the 27th of September, the new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is not only the first front-wheel drive BMW model, but also, the first to represent the brand in the well established compact MPV market, since the Renault Scenic pioneered the segment, followed by other successful models such as the Ford C-Max, Opel Zafira, Citroën C4 Picasso, Peugeot 3008, VW Golf Touran and the new SportsVan brother, Mercedes-Benz B-Class... and others.
Without surprise, this new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer will be "welcomed" by this wide "reception committee" of established competitors, especially in Europe, where BMW hopes to achieve about 40% of the new model's sales, followed by China (15%), with the remaining 45% in the rest of the world.
Purists might season their heated apéritifs discussions with this radical addition of the front-wheel drive configuration to the Bavarian brand's offerings, after it was so proud of offering only rear-wheel or all-wheel drive configurations.
Yet, the fact remains that no carmaker can ignore economy of scale realities at a time where China and India are knocking more and more loudly at the industrial world's doors, not only as car manufacturers, but also as prestige brand owners: British Jaguar and Land Rover were acquired by Indian Tata Motors (2008) and Swedish Volvo by Chinese Geely Holding in 2010, all three brands enjoying a visible (and clever) respect of their identities.
With these new realities, volume becomes a necessity, and no segment can be ignored by BMW especially when its most direct German competitor, Mercedes-Benz, already took the step in this direction.
But after all, what can prevent the new compact BMW model from being some sort of a "new" front-wheel driven BMW category, with a transversely installed engine to gain more interior space.
If it cannot be a first choice for purists, the 2 Series Active Tourer still can be a new choice for those who are looking for BMW identity and style in a dynamic, yet higher roofed break, such as the Active Tourer. Satisfying customer "A" does not exclude tempting customers "B" or "C"... as far as the list does not go too far in the alphabet list, at the risk of diluting the image.
By the way, did the front-wheel drive architecture ever prevent Audi dealers from sleeping soundly at night! As long as the image is trusted, brand elasticity can be surprising. Remember when Porsche switched its 911 from air- to water-cooled engines, before adding the SUVs later?
That's where the heated, purist discussion might end, before moving to table...