This May Be BMW’s First Front-Wheel Drive Car…And It’s A Hybrid

I’ll readily admit that, when hybrid cars first went mainstream, I wasn’t much of a fan. They were so slow and ugly. The only selling point was high fuel economy , making them the opposite of what most car enthusiasts want. Since then, hybrid vehicles have come a long way…though BMW’s Concept Active Tourer, a front-wheel drive plug-in hybrid, seems like a big step backwards.

The BMW Concept Active Tourer hasn’t officially been given the FWD designation, mind you, but speculation and comments by BMW executives point to that being the case. The Concept Active Tourer uses a 1.5 liter turbocharged 3-cylinder gas generator to charge a lithium-ion battery pack good for up to 20 miles of EV-only driving. After that, the gas generator kicks in. The Active Tourer will reportedly go from 0-60 mph in 8 seconds, better than most hybrids.

But… The idea of a front-wheel drive BMW anything is just so…so…un-BMW. Every one of their cars to-date has been either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. It goes with the whole “Ultimate Driving Machine” tagline BMW so proudly wears. The German automaker has resisted the industry-wide shift to front-wheel drive, which offers better traction under wet conditions, as well as better fuel economy.

BMW is definitely toying with alternative drivetrains, including the Mini-E, BMW i8 electric supercar and i3 city car (which may also get an optional range-extender). All that said, as a gearhead, I much prefer my performance cars with rear-wheel drive, and I can’t imagine that BMW fans are happy about front-wheel driving invading their brand.

That said, I don’t find it aesthetically displeasing…but the idea of a front-drive BMW just doesn’t seem kosher, hybrid or not. We” find out at the BMW Concept Active Tourer’s official debut at the Paris Auto Show later this week. The front-wheel disease starts with one car, but it may soon spread to other vehicles. Then again, BMW may not have a choice but to embrace front-wheel drive. I guess they’ll have to make the best of it.

Source: The Truth About Cars

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.