IT may be the second in the new 2-series range but BMW's Active Tourer (it's a people carrier) registers a number of firsts.
Here in late September, it is the first front-wheel drive production car from the German maker and the first to use a 3-cylinder engine – which is transversely mounted at that.
The current 2-series range comprises the recently unveiled Coupe. Now this five-seater will be rolled out at Geneva next month. It heralds a whole new stream of front-wheel drives from BMW.
The Tourer is 4.342 metres long and 1.8 metres wide. At 1.555 metres high and with a wheelbase of 2.67 metres there's a lot of room in the cabin.
It uses the excellent 3-cylinder 1.5-litre new turbocharged petrol I wrote about recently in the new MINI hatch.
It will also, initially, have a 4-cylinder diesel (again in common with the new MINI).
It also uses the high-strength steel platform which the MINI benefits from as well. Because of the way it is made they can build several wheelbases and track widths so it can accommodate a huge variety of new models.
And because the engine is out front they have more room to play with and rear-seat space looks decent.
Never thought I'd say it about a Beemer but here goes: front-wheel drive will be standard.
And there is a 6spd manual gearbox with 8spd automatic optional. There will also be some all-wheel drive versions.
Entry level is the 218i Active Tourer (1.5-litre 3 cylinder, 134bhp). Then there is the 218d (2-litre 4 cylinder, 148bhp).
There is a range-topping 225i (turbo 2-litre 4 cylinder, 227bhp) shortly after the launch).
Next year there are several other variants on the way including those four-wheel-drives already mentioned.
The Mercedes B-Class appears to be a prime target but they are claiming huge agility thanks to their front-wheel drive. You can order a large panoramic roof; there is a sliding rear seat, a foldable boot floor that hides a compartment; and you can specify a push-button automatic opening and closing for the rear tailgate.