• BMW Active Tourer hatchback coming to U.S. market
  • Active Tourer will offer front-wheel drive, five doors
  • Competitors include upcoming Mercedes A- and B-Class

BMW will bring an all-new multipurpose vehicle to the U.S. market in the next two years. The luxury brand recently confirmed U.S. shoppers will soon have the chance to buy its new Active Tourer, which was shown in concept form at last year's Paris Motor Show.

According to BMW, the Active Tourer will land in U.S. showrooms sometime in 2015. Typical BMW buyers may be surprised to see it there, because the Active Tourer is unlike any current BMW model. For one thing, it abandons BMW's usual rear- or all-wheel-drive layout in favor of front-wheel drive, which is usually popular in economy cars and mainstream sedans or crossovers.

The Active Tourer is also unusual for its design. Unlike other BMW models, it's not a sleek coupe, a sporty SUV or a luxury sedan. Instead, it's a 5-door hatchback with dimensions expected to rival not a luxury car but a Ford Focus or Mazda3.

So why the departure for BMW, known for building high-end models with a sporty flair? One reason is to compete with top rival Mercedes-Benz, which plans to enter the U.S. market soon with its compact A-Class and B-Class hatchbacks. Both models have been popular in Europe, where shoppers tend to prefer smaller cars to contend with compact cities and high gas prices.

Another reason BMW wants to sell its Active Tourer in the U.S. is to gain new buyers. The automaker says it expects the Active Tourer to reach many new BMW buyers, much in the same way the 1 Series did when it launched in 2008. According to BMW, 80 percent of 1 Series buyers were new to the brand.

Unfortunately, BMW hasn't announced many details on the Active Tourer apart from confirming it'll come to the U.S. In fact, the model shown at last year's Paris Motor Show was technically a concept car, which means BMW hasn't even revealed the hatchback's finalized styling. We expect to see the finished design sometime this year.

What it means to you: Although it's more than a year away, the BMW Active Tourer will eventually give city-dwelling car shoppers a way to combine luxury and compact sizing.

author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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