BMW has confirmed its first front-wheel drive model, the 2 Series Active Tourer, will be priced from less than $45,000 when it rolls into local showrooms later this year.
The German car-maker's new compact wagon is built using the same UKL modular architecture that also underpins the new-generation Mini hatch that arrived in Australia in April.
BMW Group Australia general manager for marketing Toni Andreevski told GoAuto that the Active Tourer will be competitively priced to take on it rivals, notably the Mercedes-Benz B-Class.
“We’re certainly very aggressive with the pricing,” Mr Andreevski told GoAuto. “All I can reveal right now is that the starting car will be under $45,000.” The front-wheel drive Active Tourer marks a change in BMW’s tradition of only producing rear-drive or all-wheel drive cars, but Mr Andreevski said the dynamics of 2 Series Active Tourer will remain true to the company’s long-held philosophy of building driver’s cars.
“We’re going to make Performance Control standard on the 2 Series Active Tourer because we want it to be the sportiest car in that segment and because we need to retain typical BMW driving dynamics,” Mr Andreevski said.
“And while we have a history of developing fun-to-drive front wheel drive cars – Mini for example - the 2 Series Active Tourer will without a doubt be the most dynamic in that segment.” The five-door 2 Series Active Tourer measures in at 4342mm long, 1800mm wide and 1555mm in height, which is 18mm longer, 35mm wider and a full 134mm higher than the BMW 1 Series hatch, while closely matching the dimensions of the B-Class.
Three- and four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines will power the range which Mr Andreevski said will arrive before the end of 2014.
“The car will be here late this year. We’ll have a four engine line-up for Australia - the 218i, 218d, 220i and 225i,” he said.
While being one of the most affordable BMWs on the market, Mr Andreevski said the 2 Series Active Tourer will be highly specified with standard features including the Sport Line package, 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic transmission, rear-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, automatic tailgate, Driving Assistant which features lane departure warning, forward collision warning and autonomous braking, navigation and Park Assist automatic parking.
BMW admits its biggest challenger to the 2 Series will come from German arch-rival, Mercedes-Benz.
“There are other cars that are playing in that segment,” said Mr Andreevski. “For example the Mercedes-Benz B-Class is obviously a natural competitor, however, we feel we’ve got a concept that from a styling perspective sets a new benchmark in that segment.
“The 2 Series Active Tourer has functionality, safety features and luxury features at a very sharp starting price.” Competition could also come from within its own stable, with the 1 Series hatch priced between $36,700, plus on-roads for the 116i up to $65,400 for the M135i, while the X1 compact crossover ranges in price from $48,300 for the two-wheel drive sDrive20i to $59,900 for the AWD xDrive 28i.
Mr Andreevski said the target markets for the 2 Series Active Tourer are younger families who lead active lives or older BMW customers looking to downsize, but still want the practicality of a wagon.
The company expects that at least 75 percent of buyers will be new to the brand, and Mr Andreevski is being cautiously optimistic about sales expectations.
“We’re not driven really from a volume perspective, but if you think about the cars that we currently sell like the 1 Series – we’re selling over two thousand units a year,” he said.
“If we got close to that or in that vicinity we’d be very happy, naturally but it is a new concept and we don’t expect to get that high so quickly.” The 2 Series Active Tourer’s rival, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class arrived in third- generation form in 2012, with a mid-life facelift expected early in 2015.
From the start of this year until the end of June the B-Class has sold 1103 units, which, as GoAuto has previously reported, is a 43.4 per cent drop over the same period in 2013.