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17 September 2012

BMW's 'Concept Active Tourer' is FWD

Whisper it: this is a front-wheel-drive BMW. Gasp! Plug-in hybrid MPV set for Paris

TopGear.com
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Come closer. That's it, a little closer to the page, because we have something we need to whisper in your digital ears: this, fellow petrolheads, is the BMW Concept Active Tourer, and it is front-wheel-drive.

That's right, a front-wheel-drive BMW. Makes you shudder inside a tad, doesn't it? It might just be a concept set for the Paris Motor Show in a couple of weeks time, but make no mistake, this is the future for Munich.

Yes, they've been knocking out front-drive hatches for donkeys' years in the shape of the Mini, but this is the first time a proper modern BMW's front wheels have got themselves a full time job. It's meant to account for a massive sales chunk of BMW's future, so it's quite important.

And as such, it's taking both barrels and aiming squarely at the Mercedes-Benz B-Class. It's dimensions, barring a little extra width, are nigh on identical, and that front, transversely mounted engine, says BMW, allows for more generous interior space.

Ah yes, that engine. It's a brand-new 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol three-cylinder unit, derived from Bee-Em's magnificent 3.0-litre straight-six (yes, maths fans, it's half), that will see service in all future BMW ‘Efficient Dynamics' models, and powers only the front wheels. It's coupled to an electric motor that fires on the rear axle capable of powering the car on its own. All in, the Tourer produces 190bhp, is capable of 0-100kph in less than eight seconds and maxes out at 193kph. All this, and it emits less than 60g/km and returns around 48.04kpl. Woah.

Inside there's "open-pore" laminated wood, lots of soft and smooth leather, an eight-inch display for sat nav and hybrid information, a head-up display for the driver, a panoramic sunroof, a rear setup able to split 40:20:40, and some neat touches like mobile ‘Tablet' clips for the rear passengers.

And is it just us, or does this Beemer actually look quite smart, almost handsome? Yes, the grille might be huge but we're used to that now, plus those 20s sit nicely and the overall stance sits pleasingly.

This is BMW getting quite serious about practicality, so tell us, which premium mini-MPV would you plump for: this, or the Mercedes B-Class?

Tags: paris 12, bmw, concept active tourer

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