The new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer marks BMW’s first departure from its usual rear-wheel-drive layout.

As well as front-wheel-drive, the 2 Series Active Tourer will use three-cylinder engines from the new Mini.

Much the same size (and shape, for that matter) as a Mercedes B-Class, the Active Tourer will initially be available with two engines: one petrol, and one diesel.

The 218i uses the three-cylinder petrol unit from the Mini, with 136hp and 220Nm of torque, enough to accelerate from 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds and on to 124mph.  Combined cycle economy is expected to be around 57.6mpg with CO2 emissions of 115 g/km.

The diesel option arrives in the form of the four-cylinder 218d, its 150hp and 330Nm resulting in a quicker 0-62mph time of 8.9 seconds and a 127mph top speed.  It’s more economical, too, recording 68.9mpg with emissions of 109 g/km.

A more powerful 225i with xDrive four-wheel-drive will follow in November, as will a 220i, 216d, 220d and 220d xDrive.

Six-speed manual transmissions are standard for all engines, with a six-speed auto option for the 218i and a new eight-speed auto option for the 218d.

Interior flexibility is said to be a strong point, with a sliding rear back rest that allows a configurable amount of knee-room or luggage space, plus a 40:20:40 split offering a variety of loading options.

Boot space is 468 litres, rising to 1,510 with the seats folded, with access to the cargo area by an automatic tailgate with the option of Smart Opening, triggered by waving your foot under the rear bumper.

BMW say they’ve worked hard to ensure the new front-drive platform retains the brand’s engaging driving characteristics, with a new multi-link rear axle and the option of electronically controlled dampers.

In the UK, the Active Tourer will be offered in Sport, Luxury and M Sport models, with an optional aerodynamics package launching in November.

The new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer will arrive on these shores on 27th September 2014, with prices starting from less than £23,000.