2015 BMW 218i Review

Joel Helmes road tests and reviews the BMW 218i Active Tourer.

2015 BMW 218i Review.

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is here and available in three different model grades and with a choice of three different engines.

The 2015 BMW 218i is the entry point into the Active Tourer range and is priced from $44,400, the vehicle I had was fitted with the optional panoramic glass roof ($1,962) and Comfort Package ($2,400) which adds features such as an electric driver’s seat, key proximity central locking and heated front seats.

Fitted with a three-cylinder, 1.5 litre turbo-charged engine, the 218i boasts a total output of 100kW and 220Nm, claimed combined fuel consumption comes in at 5.5L/100kms, I drove the 218i in the city for a week and averaged an impressive 7.7L/100kms.

For the record, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is also available with a larger 2.0 turbo-diesel engine that offers 110kW/330Nm with claimed combined fuel use at 4.4L/100kms and there’s a 2.0 turbo-petrol four-cylinder version that uses a claimed combined 6.1L/100kms and offers 170kW/350Nm.

2015 BMW 218i Review.

However, if the budget only stretches as far as the 218i then I reckon most Australian car buyers would be pretty happy with what it offers.

The engine, on paper, looks like it might let the BMW down a little, but that certainly isn’t the case. With three discernible drive modes the 1.5 litre unit really moves the Active Tourer along nicely, especially in Sport mode.

The 220Nm of torque is a real highlight and when extra power is needed the smooth BMW automatic transmission always finds exactly the right gear to assist.

The engine gets just slightly noisy when asked to work; the good thing though is that it makes a really pleasant, strong and confident note when the revs are up.

2015 BMW 218i Review.

The Sport mode also stiffens up the steering and suspension and it really does change the feel of this very adaptable and versatile vehicle. In Comfort or Eco modes the Active Tourer is fun and easy to drive with comfortable suspension and surprisingly nimble handling.

Inside the cabin the 2015 BMW Active Tourer is satisfyingly roomy. Plenty of headroom, impressive amounts of legroom front and back and with nicely sized storage areas and a roomy boot too – this really is a car to suit everyone from young singles to business types, even small families.

The boot space even features a really well-sized sub-floor storage area.

The seats are firm but comfortable; the front seat bases at first seem a little small but are supportive enough. Being a BMW, the 218i features switches and controls that all feel top-notch, the design is simple but effective and the overall feel is both functional and adequately prestigious.

2015 BMW 218i Review.

One area though where I felt the BMW dashboard could be improved is the position of the traditional radio control and the climate control panels.

I think most people would primarily use the BMW Connected Drive system to control audio settings, thus, to me, it seems superfluous to have so many (almost) redundant buttons in such prime real estate.

It also forces climate control adjustments to be positioned extremely low-down and well out of the field of vision. For the record, this layout isn’t unique to the 2 Series, its common across most BMW models.

One other thing that I didn’t really warm to in the Active Tourer was the massive pillar between the front door quarter window and main window pane. I’m sure it’s designed that way for good structural/safety reasons, though it seriously blocks forward 3/4 vision and it just looks and feels awkward and obvious.

2015 BMW 218i Review.

Clear gauges, wonderfully clear and high-definition reverse camera, tremendous stereo sound, easy to use Bluetooth system and a really functional and stress-free sat-nav system are just some of the highlights in a really comfortable and pleasant cabin.

At this stage there isn’t an ANCAP safety rating for the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer.

Summing it up; If you’re looking for a nicely designed, enormously adaptable and very capable vehicle then the BMW 218i and the broader Active Tourer line-up are well worth serious consideration.

The entry-level model, even without the optional extras, is nicely stocked and a really easy and fun vehicle to live with. It’s early days in our search for 2015 Car of the Year, but I would be very surprised if this new offering from BMW isn’t right up there.

NUTS and BOLTS – 2015 BMW 218i Active Tourer

Engine: 1.5 litre turbo-petrol producing 100kW and 220Nm

Transmission: Six-speed auto (only)

Safety: Not tested

Warranty: Three years

Origin: Germany

Price: From $44,400

About the author

Joel Helmes

Joel is the founder, editor and managing director of Behind the Wheel. Joel has a background as a radio broadcaster with on-air roles at 4BC, 4KQ, 2KY, 2LT and 2UE amongst others, as well as a news editor and program director. Joel’s relationship with cars stems back to his early childhood learning to change oil and brakes with his father and uncle. This continued on into his driving years owning an assorted collection of cars.

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