It's a BMW but not as you've seen it before
BMW's 2 Series Gran Tourer takes the Bavarian car maker into fresh territory, writes Geraldine Herbert
The car market may be awash with new smaller crossovers and compact SUVs, but how do big families get around these days? This is BMW's new family ferry with driving dynamics to merit the badge and large enough to haul a small hockey team.
Aimed at rivals, such as Ford's S-Max, the Peugeot 5008 and Citroen's C4 Grand Picasso, essentially the 2 Series Gran Tourer is an extended version of BMW's five-seat Active Tourer. While the Active Tourer was designed to appeal to young families who wanted a little more space, the Gran Tourer is all about those crucial seven seats.
Compared to other MPVs, the Gran Tourer is longer than Ford's Grand C-Max but shorter than Citroen's C4 Grand Picasso.
Visually, the styling is quite disappointing - the tapered silhouette and sleek lines do little to conceal a very typical boxy shaped MPV, but once inside, things do improve.
The cosy driver's seat of the Gran Tourer is lower than that most MPVs, and while this isn't necessarily a bad thing and improves driving dynamics, it does mean the pillars can be tricky to see past. The dashboard is laid out in a straightforward, no-nonsense way, but still manages to be stylish.
On the practical side, there is decent space for three kids in the standard arrangement, each with individual isofix mountings and the optional third row can also accommodate two child seats. There is also a huge amount of cubby holes and storage areas, where children's toys and books can be stowed easily, and a host of family features, including folding tables at the rear of the front seats.
The petrol engine in the front-wheel drive BMW 220i Gran Tourer produces 192 bhp, goes from 0-100 km/h in 7.7 seconds and has a top speed of 223 km/h. Our test car was the top of the range 220d xDrive Gran Tourer with 190bhp; this 2.0 litre diesel comes with all-wheel drive on demand, 0-100 km/h in 7.6 seconds and a maximum speed of 218km/h.
According to BMW, driving dynamics are a key consideration for buyers, even within this more practical end of the market. With this in mind, the Gran Tourer certainly doesn't disappoint. While it is not quite as sharp as the five- seater and the extra weight is apparent, it negotiates twists and bends with reassuring ease, and while we wouldn't pit the Gran Tourer against a 3 series, this hauler has an impressively stiff ride with adept steering and shares the key BMW driving dynamics from across the range.
Prices for the Gran Tourer start at €36,750, which is almost €4,000 more than for the Active Tourer. The range topping 220d xDrive M Sport is €51,660. The standard specification includes Intelligent Emergency Call, Bluetooth, Collision Warning with City Braking Function and BMW's iDrive infotainment system.
In addition to the standard SE version, the new BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer is available in Sport, Luxury and M Sport.
There are more practical seven-seaters that cost much less than the Gran Tourer, but there are few that will make you feel as smart and as fashionable. And with no direct rival from either Audi or Mercedes, the success of this new BMW would appear virtually unopposed.
So who's doing the school run?
If you own one of these, you can bet it'll be you.