First the purists choked on their marmalade when, in 2014, BMW deviated from its rear-wheel-drive menu to offer a front-wheel-drive MPV, the 2-Series Active Tourer, and then they choked again when BMW created its first seven-seat MPV, the Gran Tourer. But where there’s a market, there’s a niche model: the three German premium brands know that better than anyone. BMW found that buyers in need of a seven-seat MPV were having to jet off to VW, Seat, Ford and Peugeot/Citroën, and realised the adults in charge would be willing to pay extra for a BMW badge, premium interior and more better-quality drive if only there was a car that ticked the boxes… We’ve tested the 220dx M Sport Gran Tourer, which means seven seats, a two-litre diesel engine, four-wheel-wheel drive and M Sport trim.
MPVs are never handsome cars, with their boxy, upright silhouettes, but BMW has made the best of a bad hand with its funky head and tail lights and a few sharp lines to carve up the slab sides. Inside, however, is all that most owners will care about, and the 2-Series GT is a welcome relief from more mass-manufacturer offerings. It feels like a proper seven-seater in terms of leg space, although the rear row doesn’t offer the grand proper seats of a Discovery, say, but that comes with a much bigger footprint. Our test car had a £1,040 comfort pack with steering wheel heating (yes), electric front seats (yes), lumbar support (no) and front seat heating (yes). We also had the tech pack at £1,260: head-up display (yes), Bluetooth with wireless charging (yes), navigation Plus (no) and Wifi hotspot (no). Also the Vision pack (£1,175): reversing camera (yes), folding exterior mirrors with anti dazzle (yes), LED headlights (yes). Also: a £40 touring fuel tank (yes), £160 bike rack preparation (yes), £945 panoramic sunroof (yes), £190 folding tables in rear (yes) and £235 Apple CarPlay preparation (yes yes yes).
A bit dull, but that’s what you get with a 190 horsepower, diesel MPV, whether it’s made by BMW, Ferrari or Honda. There are only so many ways to skin an MPV cat. MPVs do, however, still offer a better driving experience on the whole than SUVs, because they don’t have that raised ride height or masses more weight. BMW has always had excellent steering in its cars, with more weight as you turn the wheel, which gives a sense of higher quality than a flimsy, loose steering reaction. BMW has also always produced very good diesel technology and its new diesels are among the cleanest on the market: this engine kicks out 129g/km of CO2. If we want to save the planet, we’re all going to have to start buying diesels again – until EVs are ready for the mass market.
As you’d expect, it’s quiet and comfortable at speed, and kids love the light and space.
See above. MPVs aren’t designed for passion; they’re designed as the best solution for people who need space and practicality but don’t want to follow the masses into expensive, large SUVs. The interior of the BMW 2-Series GT, however, is a cut above the experience offered by VW Group brands, Ford or Vauxhall, and while Peugeot and Citroën may offer more innovative storage arrangements, and even more light in their cars, the 2-Series somehow manages to carry off the premium air, which makes it a singular choice, and one worth considering.