How can I afford to use the phrase “sharp hatchback” for a family MPV? Before you stop reading in exasperation, give the strongest “mole” a chance. It does not deserve to be condemned in advance as just another plug-in hybrid.
That’s exactly how I approached him when I took him over. I knew what inconveniences awaited me in terms of ergonomics, having learned from the 223i version, I also knew that I would like it quite a bit and was perhaps a little skeptical about the drivetrain. It was here, however, that the “rechargeable” active tourer really pleasantly surprised me.
But let’s start from the beginning. The tall “two” probably doesn’t attract anyone with its appearance, but in the right color – it was the green on the 223i much more than this gray, by the way – it can look quite classy. Yes, it has incredibly large kidney pockets, but that’s the norm for BMW these days, and together with the bumper belonging to the M-package, it’s not such an ugly car after all.
BMW 223i Active Tourer test: The family Bavarian drives beautifully, but it’s not perfect
The thoroughly modern design of the cabin, which, in addition to the instrument panel, has even lost the conventional arrangement of the ventilation outlets and perhaps only the shape of the steering wheel is common, is ultimately seriously cool and airy. I also like the seats and despite the harder upholstery they are very comfortable. The spaciousness in the front seats is also nothing to complain about, although I can sit “behind myself” a little harder, tighter.
The controls turn me on
Unfortunately, as I already indicated, then the interior needs to be used. The ergonomics and ease of working with the elements of the car in the new generations of BMW have been significantly damaged by the centralization of the control of everything in the central display, which, moreover, in the case of small cars such as the active tourer or the X1, is not supplemented with a rotary control and really everything must be done by touching the display.
You get used to the air conditioning, at least it has a fixed panel in the lower part of the display, although you can only change the temperature and you have to open the menu to heat the seats. I also like that when Android Auto is displayed – all the latest BMWs finally manage it, even wirelessly – there are “buttons” on the left side of the display for quick access to the home screen or to the built-in navigation.
A home screen with widgets, similar to a smartphone, is quite pleasant. However, anything else needs to be looked for in the menu, in which all applications are displayed as icons, and it is incredibly confusing while driving.
However, the procedure for changing the behavior of the plug-in hybrid system puts the crown on it. I will forget that it is not possible to charge the battery with the engine while driving and you can only keep the battery at the current charge value. The way in which the behavior changes – in most cars there is at least a shortcut for this on the display, if not a physical button – here it is a matter of a few clicks on the display, which takes the driver’s attention away from the road for a very long time.
Of course, I could leave it in automatic mode, but the 230e can handle steady highway driving on electricity – the maximum in that case is 140 km/h – and the car itself always prefers electricity to petrol. So if I don’t want to inefficiently waste the energy in the battery on the highway, but save it for the city, I have to go through this process.
But at least it can be controlled, unlike regenerative braking by an electric motor when the gas pedal is released. This is always automatic, reacting to the situation in front of the car, and cannot be temporarily deactivated by tapping the gas pedal, as in the Octavia iV. You could probably get used to it, but if there’s one thing I don’t want to get used to, it’s this.
Because I never know what the car will do when I let off the gas pedal, so I’m always reacting to the car instead of cooperating with it while driving. At the same time, the solution is so easy and so many automakers have come up with it – the paddles under the steering wheel can regulate the intensity in several steps, including the automatic.
The only way to turn off the automatic here is to put the car in Sport mode. In it, regenerative braking is stronger than I would like, but at least it is still constant. But the internal combustion engine is also always running, so that the car is ready to provide the highest possible performance at any time.
It drives absolutely great
And that he is still here. The paper values of 326 hp and 477 Nm, which any sports car would not be ashamed of, consist of a 150 hp and 230 Nm combustion three-cylinder engine under the front hood and 177 hp and 247 Nm electric motor, which in turn is located at the rear axle. You got it right – the 230e drives the front wheels exclusively with gasoline and the rear wheels only with electricity.
Higher peak power at the rear, and especially its immediate availability without having to wait for the dual-clutch transmission to engage or the turbo to spin, means the car engages the rear wheels much earlier and more strongly during sharper cornering. Not that it drives completely like a back-wheel, but the impression from behind the wheel is not as far from it as one would expect.
At the same time, thanks to the sharper mapping of the gas pedal in sports mode, the car feels really strong, it accelerates more than passably, perhaps almost wildly for the fact that it is still a small MPV. In combination with an excellently tuned chassis, which is not excessively hard, but reacts to any driver’s stimuli and surface changes quickly and predictably, this is where the comparison with sharp hatchbacks comes from.
In other words, as much as the central display and everything connected with it annoys me, the driving characteristics are excellent in every way, not only for its class. The fact that I’m sitting relatively high above the asphalt throws a bit of a fork into the experience behind the wheel. This is partly due to the construction of the body, but also due to the traction battery located in the floor.
In addition to the non-negligible feature of shifting the vehicle’s center of gravity downwards and backwards compared to conventional variants, it has a usable capacity of 14.9 kWh, which is safely enough for some 60 km of electric range. In addition, the manufacturer gave the car a powerful enough on-board charger, so it makes sense to connect the car to the wallbox when you go to the mall just for shopping and coffee. During a weak watch, you have enough juice in the battery for 30 kilometers.
An almost perfect car
In conclusion, I can perhaps only add that it shines decently, and dwell on the perfect noise reduction of the three-cylinder. You can hardly tell that it is running from the inside, and you can’t hear it even from the outside in the normal city noise. The car also lights up well and, in addition to being great around the country, it’s also impressively confident at higher speeds on the highways; it shows that it originated in Germany, where you simply drive fast on autobahns, no matter what you sit in.
It is a great shame the direction BMW has taken with the new generation of the on-board iDrive system, because it, together with the impossibility of properly regulating the intensity of regenerative braking, is the only real flaw of the top active tourer. The shortcomings of the transmission suffered from the mentioned green gasoline version, the electric drive manages to completely zero here, and it also adds a huge portion of capabilities. You would have to get used to that recuperation too, so if it weren’t for the unpleasant ergonomics, it would be almost impossible to find fault with the 230e.
|BMW 230e Active Tourer xDrive M Sport|
|Combustion engine:||1499 cc, in-line three-cylinder gasoline engine, twin scroll turbocharger|
|Max. power and torque:||110 kW (150 hp)/230 Nm|
|Max. power and torque of the electric motor:||130 kW (177 hp)/247 Nm|
|Max. combined power/torque:||240 kW (326 hp)/477 Nm|
|Transmission:||7th double clutch in front, 1st. rear reducer|
|Drive axle:||4×4, front wheels driven by an internal combustion engine, rear wheels driven by an electric motor|
|0-100 km/h:||5,5 s|
|Top speed:||205 km/h (140 km/h on electricity)|
|Average consumption according to WLTP:||0.6-0.8 l/100 km + 14.4-15.9 kWh/100 km|
|Average display consumption at the end of our test:||6.3 l/100 km + 5.7 kWh/100 km|
|Total/usable battery capacity:||16,3/14,9 kWh|
|Electric range according to WLTP in the combined cycle:||83-93 km|
|Charging time according to the catalog:||2 h 30 min (0-100 %, 7,4 kW AC)|
|Operating/Maximum Weight:||1920/2420 kg|
|Max. braked/unbraked trailer weight:||1400/750 kg|
|Length x width x height:||4386 × 1824 × 1570 mm|
|Basic/maximum luggage volume:||406/1405 kg|
|Base price:||CZK 794,300 (218i 136 k 7-speed dual clutch)|
|Basic price of the tested engine:||1,186,900 CZK|
|Price of the tested car:||1,638,316 CZK|
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