mReview: BMW 216i Active Tourer M Sport - A Properly Premium Family Mover

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When the 2 Series Active Tourer first came out in 2014, BMW fans were up in arms. What was a storied marque like this dabbling with front-wheel drive layouts and MPVs?

From a business standpoint, it was a necessary move to make. Their biggest competitor, Mercedes-Benz, was on the offensive with their B-Class, which was quickly becoming a hit among family-oriented buyers who still desired a premium badge and accompanying frills. 

Even Volkswagen entered the ring, presenting the market with a decidedly Teutonic yet affordable option, in the form of the Golf SV. And while it was not a market killer, it signified the start of an all-out brawl between the German giants.

Back in the BMW camp, pitchforks were being sharpened and many unkind words were uttered by purists. But there was no denying of one thing: the 2 Series AT/GT was a moneymaker, and became one of the brand's bestsellers overnight.

Round 2

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And now, we have its sequel. Gone are the lumpy curves and dimensions that made the first-generation 2 Series Active Tourer look like it was phoned in, giving the impression that it was a "lesser" BMW than the others. 

The model we have on hand here, the 216i, looks a lot sharper from just about every angle now. It sports a more confident and aggressive profile, and possesses razor-sharp lines that contribute to its impressively low drag coefficient (Cd rated at 0.26, according to the carmaker).

It's also longer, taller, and wider, despite sharing the same UKL2 platform as its predecessor.

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The 216i Active Tourer wears BMW's latest kidney grille design, which means it's a visually imposing car. But somehow, the grille suits the 2er very well, complementing its front profile like a tailor-made suit. 

And because it's an M Sport model, it gets a fairly aggressive-looking front bumper with larger intake panels than the bog standard variant.

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It gets slim and tapered LED lights for both ends, complete with very avantgarde-looking design elements. The tail light cluster, for example, features a honeycomb-like motif on the sides that contrasts with the illuminated portions, creating a unique look at night.

The rest of the rear fascia, while unexciting, looks classy without going overboard. And unlike the older 2 Series AT models, the exhaust tip is no longer visible.

Intuitive Cabin

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The 216i Active Tourer gets our seal of approval with its intelligent cabin design.

With a floating centre console and an upright dashboard up front, both the driver and passenger will find it surprisingly roomy, given the car's relatively compact exterior. Contributing to the airy ambience is also BMW's Curved Display, which provides all the driving and media information you could possibly need and want.

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Many will find the seating position high even after adjusting the powered seats, reminding you that this is no M4 Competition. With that said, the cockpit ergonomics are simply brilliant. The 216i's leather upholstery feels supple and high quality, and the well-dampened switchgear are within easy reach.

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The main highlight is undoubtedly the aforementioned centre console. Its floating design is ingenious, and we love how well-positioned the switches and gear selector on it are. One minor issue would be the gloss black plastic trim for the gear panel, which easily attracts dust and fingerprints.

Four USB Type-C ports and a 12V socket provide power connectivity for your devices, and the central storage bin even holds down your phone securely at an angle. 

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What we're not too fond of is the HVAC control panel, which can only be accessed via the touchscreen. We still prefer the buttons and dials to be physical, so that time spent looking at the screen is minimised.

Even the 216i's auto start-stop function is relegated inside the infotainment system, which is frankly a bit much.

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Apart from that, BMW Operating System 8 is a pleasure to use. The interface strikes all the right chords when it comes to day-to-day usability, and we never found ourselves fumbling around trying to navigate around the system. The display is crisp, vibrant, and yet not overbearing to all sense.

Intelligent features that come with the 216i include cruise control with brake function, which can even detect and react to other road users to avoid collisions.

Parking Assistant is also standard, which enables the car to park into an identified lot without input from the driver. During our test, the 216i performed flawlessly and slotted itself into various parking spaces without botching the job.

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Rear occupants will have a wonderful time at the back of the 216i, thanks to the generous amounts of space available. The seats are angled in such a way that even tall folks above 1.8 metres would have no issue sitting at the back for long journeys. 

Family-freindly amenities include two USB Type-C ports, AC blowers, and a storage bin located just below them. 

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You get 470 litres of cargo space at the back, and with a shallow load lip, it's an extremely practical package. The second-row seats can be folded flat easily in a 40:20:40 split, which expands the space to 1,455 litres with them all down.

Punches Above Its Weight

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Three cylinders may not sound like much, but the 216i is a surprisingly punchy MPV. The 1.5-litre TwinPower Turbo engine delivers 90 kW of power, or about 124 bhp, and 230 Nm of torque. 

In other words, the 216i can easily overtake other vehicles while travelling at expressway speeds, and will not run out of puff till it reaches 214 km/h. From nought to 100 km/h, it takes about nine seconds, although the lively (if a bit rough) engine note makes it seem faster than it is.

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Through the corners, the 216i displays a remarkable sense of balance despite its tall-ish body. We attribute it to the stiff Adaptive M Suspension, which comes as standard with the M Sport package. While it does mean you can drive around spiritedly, it's going to be a tad bumpy for your passengers.

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We experienced only small amounts of body roll when attacking the bends hard, which means under the family-centric looks and FWD layout, the 216i's still got a bit of the old-school BMW traits that many of us have come to love.

Where fuel efficiency is concerned, the Beemer is surprisingly frugal. Official figures say that it clocks about 14.7 km/l, and we cleared the 14 km/l mark easily. 

Rated E for Everyone

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The 216i Active Tourer is proof that it's longer a wannabe BMW. Its impressive driving dynamics, pokey engine, and spacious cabin all show that the carmaker has put some serious thought into engineering the MPV, and ensured that it does the badge justice in all fronts.

And now that the people-carrier is in COE Category A, even more people can enjoy it without forking out six-digit sums for a piece of paper.

While it may not be the final word in sheer driving pleasure, the 216i Active Tourer does an excellent job in giving owners (and their loved ones) a delicious taste of what BMW is capable of.

BMW 216i Active Tourer M Sport Specifications
Price: $221,888  VES Band: B
TwinPower turbocharged inline-three
1.5 litre
124 bhp, 230 Nm
7-Speed DCT
Driven Wheels:
14.7 km/L
8.2 s
Top Speed:
210 km/h
Fuel Tank Capacity:
4,366 mm x 1,824 mm x 1,576 mm
2,670 mm
Cargo Capacity:
470 - 1,455 L

Photo Credits: Muhammad Mu'tasim (@mutasimdrives)

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