What are you driving?
It's BMW's latest plug-in hybrid model (PHEV), now on sale in Ireland and it has a bit of a long-winded name: 225xe Active Tourer. Presumably it'll have the title 'iPerformance' in there before too long, as well. It's offered in Sport and Luxury guises, though those make no difference to the laughably low 46g/km emissions rating. Here we have a Luxury model with quite a few options, and it's our first chance to drive the car on standard (i.e. not winter) tyres. For those of you that aren't aware of the 2 Series Active Tourer, it's a compact MPV, so it has only five seats, but is tall and relatively flexible in layout.
Name its best bits
No doubt the low emissions rating will appeal to some, though there are lower-priced diesel versions of the 2 Series Active Tourer that are not much more to tax each year. The best thing about the 225xe is its refinement, especially at low speeds. It's such a joy to whoosh about town in it using pure electric power. Even when the petrol engine cuts in it's quiet and smooth too. Top marks on the drivetrain, making diesel versions seem uncouth and antiquated.
Although the 2 Series Active Tourer isn't the biggest vehicle of its type, in terms of seating space, it has loads of oddments areas dotted around the cabin, from the huge door pockets to the large space under the armrest and another ahead of the gear lever. Clever and useful stuff.
Anything that bugs you?
Just the firmness of the suspension, really. It's much more fidgety than it should be, jiggling slightly over minute bumps and not quite absorbing large wheel movements as well as it could. The upshot is really sharp handling and quick direction changes, but who needs that in a car designed first and foremost to carry your family around?
And why have you given it this rating?
I took a few moments to decide on it, in truth. One part of me wants to give the 225xe just three stars, not because of its overly firm springs and dampers, but because it doesn't really answer a question that any Irish buyer is asking right now. Sure, it's fast when both engine and electric motor are working in unison, and brilliantly smooth and relaxing in town, but it's more expensive than the 218d, which is all most will see. However, the execution of the hybrid system is top notch, it drives better than it has any right to and low mileage drivers will relish its low running costs. Ireland mightn't be ready for this kind of car yet, but it'll be here waiting when we are.
I want to know more
This test drive format is intended to give our first impressions on a car we've not yet fully reviewed. Go to our Ask Us Anything page, send us a question and we'll give you as much detail as you need on any specific aspect.