BMW Australia says it will likely steer clear of expanding its front-drive 2 Series Active Tourer range with Euro-focused seven-seat or xDrive all-wheel-drive derivatives for the foreseeable future.
The seven-seat baby MPV 'Gran Tourer' has been spotted out and about in disguise overseas, and is tipped to launch in Europe by the middle of 2015.
BMW Australia head of product marketing and planning Shawn Ticehurst said the 2 Series people-mover has potential to gain traction in the European market, but there are no plans to introduce it in Australia.
"I’m not seeing a big potential in the market for a seven-seater like that. Australians, when they want the seven seats, they tend to go for these bigger concepts like the Kia Carnival, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Tarago and all that stuff. Matter of fact is, the car’s not that huge size," Ticehurst said.
He said the key will be listening and responding to market demands.
"I don’t want to say we’ll never bring it in because we might see a good gap in the market, we might get customers starting to request it when they see the photos now. If there’s good customer demand for it we’ll have the opportunity to bring it in, but at this stage I’m not seeing a real potential in the market for it so no plans right now."
BMW has launched four front-wheel-drive variants of the 2 Series Active Tourer in Australia, the 218i, 218d, 220i and 225i, with a number of others to be available overseas, including xDrive versions.
The four-wheel-drive models are likewise not expected to be made available to the Australian market.
Ticehurst said while the new UKL platform can be modified to accommodate xDrive, it's not viable here because of our penchant for SUVs.
"In Europe they already have them, 225i xDrive and 218d xDrive, there are three or four models. We won’t bring them here because we believe the Australian customer that wants 4WD is going to pick something like the X1 they’re going to pick a 4WD-type concept."
With small SUV sales showing no signs of waning Down Under, BMW believes it simply wouldn't make sense from a business perspective.
When asked if it's a move to protect sales of models like the X1 and X3, he said, "It’s probably more I just don’t think the Australian buyer is there."
"I see a European buyer that lives in an environment where you get snow three or four months of the year and wants this style of car and needs 4WD just because practically they’ve got three months of living in snow, and we just don’t have that here."
But as always, Ticehurst says never say never.
"If there’s a lot more people giving us that request… then you never know. I’d have to check if it’s even available in right-hand drive."
BMW Australia has confirmed the 2 Series AT will be available with an M Sport pack in the second quarter of next year. It'll essentially add a body kit, sports suspension, and M-themed steering wheel and interior trim.