If you need seven seats but also value a premium interior then the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer offers both. However, its sixth and seventh seats are best reserved for children
The seven-seat BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer represented a step change for the brand when it was launched in 2015, something that’s blatantly obvious when you first clap eyes on its rather van-like form. It was updated in 2018, getting a new front-end design with LED fog lights, new interior design and upholstery options and more exterior colours.
It’s what’s underneath the skin that represented the biggest about turn for the company, because the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer is actually front-wheel drive. BMW’s ‘ultimate driving machine’ tagline? comes, in some part, thanks to its preference for producing rear-wheel-drive models. But, in a car like the Gran Tourer, powering the front wheels allows for a more spacious interior, which will be of greater relevance to most potential buyers. All-wheel drive models are available, too, if you need more grip in tricky conditions.
Proof of the packaging advantages come in the form of a spare pair of smaller seats that fold into the boot. They mark the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer out from the smaller Active Tourer – which is spacious itself, but only has room for five onboard. However, the space around the rearmost seats in the Gran Tourer isn’t what you’d call generous – they’re best off for children on a long journey as both access and knee room is tight.
Just like in the smaller Active Tourer, though there’s space for two adults in the outer seats of the rear three-person bench, another in the middle pew and loads of room up front for two tall adults, too.
Handily, the middle bench splits 40:20:40 as standard, and will slide back and forth in a 60:40 configuration allowing brilliant flexibility. Unfortunately, though, all-wheel drive models can’t have it.
The driver sits quite high even in the seats lowest position, but this at least affords a brilliant view of the road ahead, while visibility in every other direction is good too.
As you would expect, the 2 Series Gran Tourer leads the way when it comes to interior quality in a car of this type and size. Everything inside has BMW’s trademark solid build and most of the plastics look and feel expensive. However, remember you’ll pay a premium to drive the Gran Tourer (over rivals such as the Citroen C4 SpaceTourer and the VW Touran) with price starting at around £27,000 and rising beyond £36,000. And, despite a long list of standard equipment, you can expect some expensive options too.
Of course, paying extra for the BMW also gets you one of the best infotainment systems on sale today: its iDrive system. OK, so you only get a relatively small 6.5-inch screen on all cars, but it is at least easy to move through its on screen menus via the rotary controller and menu shortcut buttons between the front seats. BMW’s Tech Pack is quite pricey, but brings a bigger screen, as well as a head-up display and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
If space is a priority, there are better MPVs, but nobody can deny that the 2 Series Gran Tourer makes carting a large family about more glamorous
Thankfully, BMW hasn’t thrown everything it stands for to the wolves, the Gran Tourer is still good to drive for an MPV, thanks mostly to being based on the playful Mini hatchback. It shares that car’s grippy front end and direct steering, although there’s significantly more body roll to contend with when pushing it hard around tight bends.
It rides comfortably, too, as long as you steer clear of the range’s large wheels and stiffer suspension settings. M Sport models, for instance, look great, but with their 18-inch alloy wheels and stiffer suspension set-up they tend to thud into potholes a little firmly for an MPV. You’re better off sticking the smallest wheels and standard more comfortable suspension set-up for the plushest ride quality.
As you would expect from any BMW, the 2 Series Gran Tourer gets an excellent range of engines – the majority of which offer spritely performance along with affordable running costs. There are both three and four-cylinder options in both petrol and diesel forms, with power outputs ranging from 140-190hp.
The 220d 2.0-litre diesel is bound to be a popular choice thanks to being able to shove itself from 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds and real-world fuel economy of more than 50mpg. Its substantial mid-range performance will also prove useful when the BMW’s packed to the rafters with people and stuff, and it remains quiet and smooth even when rushed.
Don’t be put off the smaller 116d diesel or three-cylinder 118i petrol if you spend the majority of time in town, though. They’re cheaper to buy and run and will feel easily up to the job of town work when full to the brim with a family’s gubbins.
So, MPV buyers who put quality and technology before outright space should certainly have the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer on their shortlist. However, we suspect the majority of buyers put space first, and quite simply, there are better alternatives for carrying seven people in comfort, even if that means doing so in slightly less luxurious surroundings.