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First look: BMW’s front-drive crossover

Outdoors: The plug-in, front-drive BMW Compact Active Tourer Outdoor concept previews the 1 Series GT.

Bike-friendly Outdoor version of BMW’s front-drive Compact Active Tourer emerges


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11 Jul 2013

BMW this week gave another insight into its front-drive future, revealing a crossover SUV version of the Compact Activity Tourer mini-people-mover concept.

Called the Compact Active Tourer Outdoor, it will make its formal debut at a trade show in Germany this weekend. Similar to the regular concept car revealed in Paris last September, the Outdoor uses a plug-in hybrid powertrain, with petrol power sent to the front wheels.

The Outdoor also emerges a day after BMW released full information on its forthcoming i3 electric hatch, which is set to emerge in Australia in about 12 months.

Both the original Compact Activity Tourer and this new Outdoor are thought to preview a production BMW crossover, potentially called the 1 Series GT and due to arrive around 2015. Such a car would be a natural fit to fight arch-rival Mercedes’ big-selling B-Class.

The cargo area is said to be both versatile and spacious thanks to the high roofline, front-mounted transverse powertrain and underfloor lithium-ion battery pack.

There are even two built-in bike carriers inside the cargo space which fold away when not in use. You have to remove the saddles and wheel first to use them, however.

Heavy-duty studded plastic lines the cargo area, while aluminium highlights give the fascia a modern touch.

At 4350mm long, 1833mm wide and on a wheelbase of 2670mm, the Skoda Yeti-sized Outdoor has the same footprint as the regular Compact Active Tourer. At 1576mm high, it’s also a little taller.

The Outdoor concept is based on BMW’s new “UKL” platform that will underpin a range of future BMW compacts and Mini models. The first new Mini will make its debut later this year.

Power comes from a new 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine driving the front wheels, paired with a small 200Nm electric motor at the rear for a combined system output of more than 140kW.

The petrol triple-cylinder engine – also used in the i8 plug-in sports car – is derived from BMW’s TwinPower straight six but fitted in a space-saving transverse layout as opposed to the traditional BMW longitudinal configuration.

According the BMW, the concept car can dash from 0-100km/h in less than 8.0 seconds on its way to a top speed of more than 200km/h, but uses just 2.5 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle test.

It can also run for 30km as a pure electric car, and recharge from a 220V household socket. BMW lends a hand with its Proactive Driving Assistant, which works with the satellite navigation system to anticipate local conditions and send the driver tips to prepare for the situation ahead.

It also plays its part in minimising fuel use by setting out the most efficient route based on volume of traffic, personal driving style and local conditions.

Additional green technology includes a more advanced version of BMW’s Eco Pro technology that reduces ancillaries such as the air-conditioner at appropriate moments, and can de-couple the petrol engine when coasting.

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