BMW 216d Gran Tourer Luxury Review
Historically, BMW has stuck to a very solid format to their vehicles. Front engined, rear wheel drive, to offer the best possible handling and weight distribution to create their Ultimate Driving Machine. This format was added to with the introduction of their X range of SUV’s such as the X5 we reviewed here. This then brought on the introduction of the xDrive to their higher performance saloons, coupes, and estates such as the 335d xDrive. However, the introduction of a front-wheel drive vehicle never appeared to be on the books as it would represent such a strong departure from their driving ethic.
This brings us neatly onto their debut into the front-wheel drive market with their 2-Series Active Tourer and Gran Tourer. Essentially these two models, offering 5 and 7 seats respectively are family busses similar to the Golf SV and Touran, C4 Picasso and a few other small MPV’s.
On the outside, the Gran Tourer tested looks unmistakably BMW at the front. However, moving towards the rear it loses a lot and ends up looking rather boxy and uninspiring. Some would say this in unavoidable as the design cannot betray what the car is, which is a reasonably spacious family MPV. However, more could have been done to lose the hearse-like appearance.
The Gran Tourer, with 7 seats is a a bit of a Tardis. It looks medium sized on the outside, but on the inside it is fair to say it is rather voluminous. With a huge amount of head room it provides a more upright driving and seating position which means there is more leg room in the rear to comfortably accommodate even the leggiest of rear passengers in the 2nd row. As an 2nd row passenger you are even treated to an adjustable picnic table. The 3rd row, as with just about every 7 seater is for children only with limited leg room and a severely reduced boot when the 3rd row is deployed. What this means is the 2 Series Gran Tourer is just like every other 7 seater.
Specification wise, the Luxury model on test was impressive with Leather Upholstery, and a few other styling tweaks adding to the already very impressive spec of the standard SE which includes 2-Zone Climate Control, Auto Tailgate, Bluetooth, Sat Nav, DAB, Keyless Go, Rear Parking Sensors, and clever electric folding 2nd row seats. Even the top spec M-Sport only adds more styling tweaks and sports seats.
To drive, the 2-Series Gran Tourer is definitely not a BMW. The 216d on test felt a little lacklustre in performance with only the driver on board so a full complement would undoubtedly make this feel positively pedestrian to drive. Producing only 116hp it is hardly
surprising it takes over 11 seconds to get to 60mph. The published fuel economy is impressive at 68mpg, but the poorer performance will undoubtedly result in harsher driving resulting in poorer economy. The 218d producing a more respectable 150hp with only marginally worse quoted MPG figures would, I think, be the better choice.
It is clear they needed to dispense with the rear wheel drive (thus removing the transmission tunnel) to give better space, but the transition to front wheel drive is a disappointment. The car felt vague in handling around town and you could put another badge on it an believe it was a [insert your own generic MPV name here]. The gear change was imprecise and it was all to easy to find reverse when searching for 1st and the engine certainly felt harsh when pushed due to being underpowered (see above). Whilst all of the above is a shame, you cannot escape the superior quality of the interior of the 2-Series compared to its lesser competitors which is refreshing at least.
Overall, the 2-Series Gran Tourer is a fairly generic MPV. However, it benefits from the interior quality and a few nice touches like the electrically collapsing 2nd row seats and a handy hidey-hole for the load cover, as well as some of the exterior styling of the BMW
brand, which is a huge plus when you are looking for a MPV which looks as good as an MPV can and offers you a higher quality feel.
As a vehicle appearing on the company fleet, there are other options out there which are cheaper to lease and cheaper for the driver in BIK terms. That being said, at a reasonable sub £300/month, for the very well specced entry level 216d SE, on a standard 3+35, 10,000mpa contract hire it is rather good value for money as a premium MPV.
If you would like to find out more about leasing the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer or Gran Tourer, please contact JCS Fleet on 01223 911 761 or complete the online enquiry form below