BMW is out creating new niches yet again, with its latest prototype signaling a premium seven-seat compact MPV is on the horizon. The vehicle is essentially a seven-seat version of the 2016 BMW 2-Series Active Tourer
, which features five seats and is the first BMW model to ride on the new UKL front-wheel-drive platform that debuted in the 2014 MINI Cooper
While the five-seat 2-Series Active Tourer has been confirmed for a U.S. arrival, with the first examples due early next year, as 2016 models, it’s not yet clear if this seven-seat version is also due here. This seven-seat version is distinguished by its stretched rear doors and extra-long rear overhang, and it may be labeled a 2-Series Gran Tourer to help further differentiate it from its smaller sibling. The 2-Series Gran Turismo name is also a possibility.
Given the car's premium positioning, compact size and seven-seat configuration, the vehicle will have no direct rival, though the more affordable Fiat 500L, which comes in a seven-seat version overseas, may prove an alternative. Other potential rivals include the slightly larger Mazda 5, Opel Zafira and Volkswagen Sharan, though all of these are targeted at families on a budget.
The vehicle’s engine lineup should mirror that of the smaller 2-Series Active Tourer, meaning a series of three- and four-cylinder units, all of them turbocharged. The top model will be a 225i and at the other end of the spectrum will be a diesel-powered 218d. The 225i is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder delivering 231 horsepower. Further down the track, a hybrid version of the five-seat Active Tourer
is due, and we could see its powertrain also offered in the seven-seat Gran Tourer.
Look for a debut of this latest BMW, whatever it's called, at the 2014 Paris Auto Show in early October.