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The BMW Active Tourer Outdoor Concept is a Gorgeous Abomination

BMW has just unveiled the all-new Active Tourer Outdoor Concept that you see above. It’s both very good and very bad. We’ll explain why.

Slathered in an exclusive Gold Race Orange paint color, the Active Tourer Outdoor aims to be as stylish as it is versatile. On the inside, BMW says the interior is “hard-wearing” and easy to care for. In fact, BMW designers have even included a carrier system for two bicycles in the boot, which is rather sporting and clever.

Under the hood the sleek new compact concept hatch features a transversely mounted 1.5-liter gasoline engine, which is mated to an electric motor and a battery pack. The Active Tourer Outdoor also features an electrical plug so that owners can plug it in at night, making it a plug-in hybrid much like the Chevrolet Volt.

So to recap: the Active Tourer Outdoor is chic, handy, and eco-friendly. What’s not to love? Honestly: pretty much the whole thing.

BMWs – save the Isetta – have always been rear-wheel drive ultimate driving machines able outpace and outperform the competition. Turns out, though, most BMW owners just don’t utilize their car’s driving potential. In fact, BMW buyers mostly want the badge and a bit of luxury in order to justify the sky-high sticker price.

In response, BMW will be offering a whole slew of new front-wheel drive models like the Active Tourer Outdoor with more interior room than performance. Instead of track-day dynamism, the new BMWs will instead be fuel-efficient and family friendly.

This, to us at The Manual, is upsetting. We’re sorry but there’s nothing manly about front-wheel drive fuel-efficiency. Don’t get us wrong; by no means are we opposed to plug-in hybrids – quite the opposite in fact. We love cars that don’t melt the polar icecaps and can haul a couple Labradors – and look good doing it. We, however, also want a car that can get our pulse racing.

Just last week Jaguar proved with the C-X75 that rear-wheel drive plug-in hybrids can be both earth-friendly and powerful. BMW could easily do the same. It is well within the BMW’s reach to build rear-wheel drive fuel-efficient cars that are as suited to a pre-school carpool as they are a hotlap on a racetrack. Seems, though, it probably won’t.

The Active Tourer Outdoor Concept stands, then, as a glimpse into the new, neutered BMW model lineup of front-drive eco-hatches with beautiful lines, useful interiors, and no souls.

Nick Jaynes
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Nick Jaynes is the automotive editor of The Manual. When Nick isn't behind the wheel on the open road, he can be found…
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