In-depth reviews

BMW 225xe hybrid (2015-2021) review

One of the very few hybrid MPVs, the first-generation 2 Series Active Tourer plug-in is worth a look for economy-minded secondhand family-car buyers

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Fuel Type:
Hybrid Petrol

Pros

  • Four-wheel-drive capability
  • 25-mile electric range
  • Luxurious interior

Cons

  • No seven-seat version
  • Vague steering feel
  • Can get expensive
Car typeElectric rangeFuel economyCO2 emissions
Plug-in hybrid 32-34 miles166-188mpg 35-38g/km 

The BMW 225xe Active Tourer is a plug-in hybrid MPV that had its own niche for years, as it was the first people carrier to get plug-in power. Its only real rival for a long time was the now-discontinued Toyota Prius+, which is a full hybrid rather than a plug-in. The model is due to be replaced by a new generation in the course of 2022, but is still worth considering as a nearly new or secondhand purchase.

You have to look hard to tell a 225xe apart from a purely petrol or diesel-engined Active Tourer, because the only changes are the badges and a charging flap on the front wing. Plus, by putting the battery pack under the seats, the interior is pretty much unchanged as well, so while those in the back sit a little higher, it still has a decent 400-litre boot and plenty of legroom.

The 225xe uses a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine alongside its 10kWh electric motor and battery pack. This means it has CO2 emissions of 35-38g/km and can go up to 34 miles on electric power alone, according to official figures. As with any plug-in hybrid, you’ll only get close to the official economy figures of 166-188mpg if you do mostly short trips and charge the battery regularly.

Interestingly, the BMW i8, the brand's former plug-in flagship, has a similar powertrain, but in the 225xe it's tuned more for economy than performance. Here, it has a still-punchy combined total of 221bhp. The 0-62mph spring takes a sporty 6.7 seconds, and while there's no mistaking the Active Tourer for a sports car, it's good to drive.

And whatever sort of user you are, you’ll enjoy driving this BMW around town. There, it’s really relaxing, as the electric motor delivers almost silent, zero-emissions driving. The light steering is a big help, too, although the downside is that it feels rather vague on more challenging roads. With just four hours needed for a full charge from a standard domestic socket, it’s not hard to keep the 225xe fully charged. You can easily charge it overnight and come back to it the next morning fully topped up and ready for the next commute.

What’s also clear is that the 225xe, like all 2 Series Active Tourers, is a safe car. The five-star Euro NCAP score for crash safety should provide plenty of reassurance for customers. However, the results of the Driver Power owner satisfaction survey were a little more worrying, as the 2 Series was rated below average and BMW finished well down the table of manufacturers.

Where the 2 Series is rather more impressive is the sheer amount of choice in the Active Tourer line-up. BMW couldn’t be more different from the makers who sell their hybrids as one-off models in their ranges. With the 225xe, there are plenty of trim levels to choose from, and even the cheapest Sport has 17-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, Apple CarPlay and DAB radio. Beyond that are the Luxury, SE and M Sport models, each with an appropriate selection of extra kit.

It’s yet another reason to consider this model if you’re thinking of an alternative-fuel car. Overall, its combination of decent space, good quality and sharp handling with an electric range of 25 miles and good fuel economy thereafter, makes this hybrid MPV a compelling proposition. For a more detailed look at the BMW 225xe, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...

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