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This is it - BMW’s first EVER front-wheel drive car. And if that wasn’t confusing enough, it’s called the 2-Series Active Touring. And it’s neither a convertible or a coupe. Eh?

Let’s get the first bit over with. Front-wheel drive. Yep. That’s happened. You might remember the Active Tourer concept, which previewed the company’s intentions to take on the Mercedes B-Class.

It’s in the same engine family as the Mini too, which means it’ll get three of the company’s new units at launch. There’s the 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol (yep, it’s the same as the i8’s) 216i, which manages 57.6 mpg and 115 g/km of CO2.

It’s followed by the four-cylinder 218d, which does 68.9 mpg, 109 g/km, and musters up 243 lb ft of torque.

Top of the pile is the 2.0-litre four-pot 225i petrol, which does 47 mpg, makes 231bhp, 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds and goes on to 146 mph. Everything’s a six-speed manual as standard, while you can spec six- and eight-speed autos.

Now, there’s the small issue of dynamics. BMW prides itself on making cars go round corners well. A task, as Jeremy demonstrates, made harder when the front wheels are doing the steering and the powering. In a bid to make the cornering traditionally BMW-tastic, the 2ATs get a multi-link rear end under the 2.67-metre wheelbase.

The Active Tourer also uses a mix of lightweight high tensile steels to keep weight down. As low as 1320kg in the 218i three-pot, that’s 75kg less than the lightest B-Class.

Inside, there’s all the treat-yourself premium stuff you’d expect. As well as a head-up display and many leathers, the Active Tourer gets the full gamut of BMW ConnectedDrive kit, including things like variable cruise control, automatic parking, autonomous emergency braking and the ability to self-drive in heavy motorway traffic.

All very much on a par with that B-Class, then, apart from pricing. There’s no official word yet, but expect it to be pitched around - you guessed it - B-Class territory, which starts at £22,000 for a really miserable one.

Now, the name. We thought BMW had settled on even numbers for coupes and convertibles (2, 4 and 6), and odd numbers for saloons and estates. But no. The company reckons this deserves to be a 2-Series because - despite being conspicuously neither coupe nor convertible - it’s bigger than the 1-Series, and will be more expensive. And that the alternative’s too open to innuendo… Read more here.

So, a front-drive BMW, eh? Sacrilege, or just what the doctor ordered?

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