Here’s the BMW Concept Active Tourer, a car that’s pitched straight against the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class. And like the B-Class, it’s a front wheel drive car in a line-up that’s predominantly rear wheel drive. It’s finally happened – BMW has gone and created a front wheel drive car. It’s still a concept for now, but we’re betting the front wheel drive architecture will continue with the production car.

Not that their engineering team hasn’t already got a great deal of experience with front wheel drive models. MINI is predominantly front wheel drive, except for the new Countryman which has an all wheel drive system called ALL4. It’s just that before this, BMW was adamant that a BMW without xDrive should drive the rear wheels, even when front wheel drive made so much sense in that particular segment. Yes, I’m talking about the original 1-Series, which had a really cramped rear passenger area thanks to a huge transmission tunnel.

The new BMW Concept Active Tourer measures 4,350mm long, 1,834mm wide and 1,560mm tall. Wheelbase is 2,670mm. As a comparison, the new B-Class measures 4,359mm long, 1,786mm wide and 1,557mm tall, with a 2,699mm wheelbase.

After design disaster that is the 5-Series GT, BMW’s designers have redeemed themselves by proving that they indeed know how to design a non-SUV tall hatchback body. The Concept Active Tourer is a looker, and the exterior looks pretty much production ready. I’m expecting some tamer wheels, less concept-liek wing mirrors and less aggressive bumpers for the production car.

As for the interior, it’ll probably still have some taming to do, though I don’t doubt that the production interior is pretty much already finalised sitting somewhere in the BMW FIZ, if not close to being finalised. As always a concept car’s interior tends to look very complicated in photos so I recommend you watch the video above as it offers a flying camera tour of the interior – the design is easier to digest in motion.

There’s also a new “Cool Shade” panorama roof, which kinda sounds like Mercedes-Benz’s Magic Sky Control sunroof. The composite glass roof has Suspended Particle Device (SPD) technology. The occupants desired brightness or temperature effect can be created at the press of an electric button – either being darkened to the level of powerful sunglasses or raised to crystal clear brightness.

Occupants can achieve a special lighting effect by manually adding a large-area leaf structure design to the glass roof. Electrical impulses cause the molecular structure of the glass to change at continuously varying levels between light and dark according to preference. The play of light and shadow thus created highlights the sense of space, thereby generating a pleasantly atmospheric lighting effect on all seats.

A centrally located vertical metal track is integrated in the back of the front seats. This innovative clip-on track system allows folding tables offering a range of convenient adjustment options to be attached by means of a quick fastener, and additional storage bags can also be suspended.

Use of all common models of tablet computer is especially convenient from the rear seats. Tablets can be fixed to the clip-on track system in either portrait or landscape format.
Rear passengers in the BMW Concept Active Tourer can experience fascinating technology hands-on with the new iPad app “Seismic Surf”. “Seismic Surf” creates a game world in real time.

It is an exciting ecological racing game which draws on the acceleration figures, engine speed and other data supplied continuously by the BMW Concept Active Tourer. Each real-life driving situation is interpreted and used to generate an infinite variety of new challenges in the computer game.

The aim of the game is to collect as many points as possible along a virtual route and record the most efficient driving style. The driver can directly influence the level of difficulty. Anticipatory driving simplifies the game, while a sporty driving style creates a winding and more difficult virtual route in the game. Only perfect interaction between a fuel-efficient driver and a skilful player at the rear can maximise the point score and achieve a podium position in the BMW games universe.

The instrument cluster is a full 10.25 electronic display, instead of mechanical gauges. The familiar look with four circular instruments is still retained, but the use of extended Black Panel Technology gives the drive a whole new range of display options. For example, the screen shows the drive experience modes COMFORT, SPORT and ECO PRO with differing indicators and in distinctive colour schemes. The iDrive system also switches themes to match the drive mode.

The BMW Concept Active Tourer is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. A new three cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine works with a synchronous electric motor. The motor is derived from the six cylinder 3.0 litre unit, basically half a 335i’s engine to over simplify things. We’ll get into more details on the engine in another story. In this car, it drives the front wheels. An electric motor is installed on the rear axle, and can power the car on its own in limited capacity. So I guess that it means the Concept Active Tourer transforms into a traditional rear wheel drive BMW only in EV mode! EV mode is about 30km when fully charged.

Peak torque of 200Nm is available from standing from the electric motor. The motor’s power isn’t mentioned, neither is the combustion engine’s standalone torque. Combined system output is 190 horsepower with no mention of combined torque. 0 to 100km/h acceleration is less than 8 seconds, while top speed is rated at around 200km/h. In spite of these impressive performance figures, the average fuel consumption is less than 2.5 litres per 100 kilometres, with a CO2 emissions level of less than 60 g/km.

Look after the jump for a full gallery of the new Concept Active Tourer.