BMW producing a front-wheel drive car ranks alongside hell freezing over on the plausibility scale, so the announcement of the Concept Active Tourer is sure to get Beelzebub dressing for the winter.

The Active Tourer previews the look of a new small BMW, similar in size to the brand's current smallest offering, the 1-Series hatchback.

It also previews a new engine, and one we've been expecting for some time.

Sitting under the stubby hood--and powering the front wheels, for the first time in a BMW--is a 1.5-liter, turbocharged 3-cylinder engine, paired with a plug-in hybrid electric drivetrain.

With a total power output of 190 horsepower performance is more than respectable, reaching 62 mph in under 8 seconds from rest, and going on to 124 mph. Better still, BMW is suggesting economy could reach 94 miles per gallon.

Naturally, we've heard economy claims like that before, and it remains to be seen whether a production version of the car could reach that mileage, but BMW says the battery pack should provide enough juice for 18 miles of all-electric running.

The rest of the concept looks nearly production-ready. The exterior isn't dissimilar in proportion to the car's most likely rival, the Mercedes-Benz A Class, but the detailing is every inch a modern BMW. Only the wheels and tiny side mirrors may struggle to reach production.

That also applies to the car's interior, which colors and materials aside, could easily pass for a production model. The Concept Active Tourer seats five, and the 171-inch long body and short hood should make for a spacious environment.

And let's not forget, BMW has plenty of experience in making fun-to-drive front-wheel drive cars--just look at the MINI range.

A fun, spacious and efficient front-drive BMW? Sounds good to us.

The 2012 Paris Auto Show begins on September 27. For more information and other launches from the show, keep an eye on our dedicated Paris Auto Show page.


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