The BMW Concept Active Tourer
At the 2012 Paris Auto Show, BMW presented a concept vehicle, which is the first in the Premium Compact segment. Expecting growth rates in this segment of 5% per year, BMW is starting things off with the BMW Concept Active Tourer, combining comfort, functional space, performance, and style into a smaller package.
The Active Tourer is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle [PHEV], using a hybrid drive based off the BMW i3 and i8 concept vehicles, the eDrive system. This is the first time that eDrive will be used in a core model of the BMW brand, and is most likely to become the designation for future hybrid-drive BMW vehicles. The system includes a lithium-ion battery pack, and an electric drive motor and engine control unit developed by BMW. As a PHEV, the vehicle has two independent drives. The 1.5-liter turbo-diesel engine drives the only the front wheels and a generator for the battery pack and electric motor. The electric motor is designed and is capable of propelling the the rear wheels alone, up to 12 miles. This is an excellent balance for economy on short trips, as well as long-haul efficiency.
The eDrive system has a total output of 190 horsepower, an can accelerate from zero to sixty miles per hour [mph] in under eight seconds. The top speed of this dynamic little compact is about 125 mph. Laughing in the face of conventional efficiency measurements, especially considering its impressive performance characteristics, the BMW Concept Active Tourer still returns better than 90 mpg.
The first of its kind, the BMW Concept Active Tourer has the attractive, sports-car design that BMW is known for, and the luxury that BMW drivers expect. The vehicle itself is compact, but the interior is much bigger than the exterior dimensions might suggest. The new concept is 14’3” long, 6′ wide, and 5’1” high. By comparison, the 2012 Mazda 3, of similar size, is 15’1” long, 5’8” wide, and 4’10” high. From the side, the apparent wedge shape, created by paint and trim lines, make this vehicle look dynamic even when standing still, a feat hard to pull off in such a small package.
The new concept features the familiar, forward tilting grille, and twin-headlight design with LED marker lights that stretch from over the headlights back into the side panels. The front apron and twin air inlets under the headlights further emphasize the the sporty presence of the Active Tourer. The rear light clusters also flow well into the side panels, enhancing the appearance of a well-balanced, road-gripping stance, highlighted further still by the 20” alloy wheels.
Laminated wood cut from a single block draws the eye from the lower to upper parts of the dash, creating the impression of lightness and elegance. Light-colored leather covers the door trim panels and seats, with orange seats to create contrast and reveal the Active Tourer’s sporty personality. The 10.25” Black Panel Technology instrument cluster displays gauges and information in easy view of the driver. Available, optionally, is also a full-color Heads-Up Display displaying vital driving information, another first in the compact segment. The raised seating position also ensures that the driver has an excellent view of the surroundings.
By putting the battery pack under the floor, overall interior space is maximized, and the slightly higher roofline makes ingress and egress easier, even to the back seats. The long, 8’9” wheelbase keeps the drive-train components from interfering with cabin space and also enhances the stability of this luxury compact. The light, almost atmopheric, feeling of space, is further enhanced by the panoramic sunroof. Featuring Suspended Particle Device [SPD] technology, the transparency of the entire roof can be adjusted lighter or darker at the touch of a button. A changing pattern lighting effect can also achieved with the same system, giving a pleasant lighting ambiance to the occupants.
The BMW Active Tourer Concept is the first of its kind. Packed with performance-enhancing features as well as luxury accoutrements, this little compact is also highly efficient. No other maker has a Luxury Hybrid Compact, and looking forward, other makers are going to have to take note of the pace set by BMW today.