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BMW to Show Off New Front-Driver at Paris

Executive Summary

The plug-in hybrid is powered by a new 3-cyl. engine, derived from the award-winning 3.0L 6-cyl., combined with an electric motor that drives the rear axle.

BMW’s Concept Active Tourer vehicle, to bow at the Paris auto show this month, is aimed at what the auto maker believes will be two growing market segments: small/compact cars and electrified vehicles.

Though billed as a concept, the show car has a near-production-ready look to it, and the vehicle reportedly is likely to join the lineup in 2013 or 2014.

The concept cross/utility vehicle employs the German auto maker’s eDrive already planned for the upcoming i8 low-volume, hybrid sports coupe due in 2014. But this is the first time the plug-in hybrid powertrain is the centerpiece for what is considered a mainstream model.

It also marks the debut of BMW’s new front-wheel-drive/transverse-engine architecture for its core brand. Power to the front wheels is delivered via a 1.5L, gasoline 3-cyl. engine with twin-scroll turbocharging, direct injection and variable valve control, a spin-off of the auto maker’s 3.0L TwinPower turbocharged 6-cyl., a Ward’s 10 Best Engines winner.

A synchronous electric motor, fed by lithium-ion batteries mounted underneath the floor, powers the rear axle, providing the multipurpose vehicle’s all-wheel-drive capability. The Concept Active Tourer can travel up to 19 mph (30 km) on electric power alone.

In addition to recharging through a 220V electrical socket, batteries are replenished with energy from the rear axle during deceleration and by a high-voltage generator that is fed by the gasoline engine.

The gas/electric powertrain delivers combined output of 190 hp and 148 lb.-ft. (200 Nm) of torque and can take the vehicle 0-62 mph (100 km/h) in less than eight seconds and deliver a top speed of (200 km/h). Fuel economy averages the equivalent of 94 mpg (2.5 L/100 km), BMW says.

The Concept Active Tourer measures 171.4 ins. (435.3 cm) in overall length and is 72.2 ins. (183.4 cm) wide. Wheelbase is 105.1 ins. (267.0 cm). It seats five, with a 40:20:40 fold-flat rear seat that increases cargo room. Vertical bars mounted on seatbacks allow accessories, such as tray tables or storage bins, to lock into place.

The exterior is distinguished by its front-leaning grille, large front air inlets and light-emitting-diode positioning lights that run along the top of the headlamps that extend through to the sides of the vehicle. Body overhangs are short, and the roofline rises to provide a sporty, athletic appearance.

BMW uses black-panel technology for its multifunctional instrumentation and incorporates an optional full-color head-up display as well. The vehicle’s center console “appears to hover” between the two front seats, maximizing legroom, the auto maker says.




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