Let's get any confusion out of the way: The new BMW 2-Series Active Tourer is completely unrelated to the new BMW 2-Series.

BMW has chosen the name to differentiate the new front-wheel drive hatchback from the 1-Series sold overseas, and partly, we suspect, because 1.5 or 2.5 Series would sound daft.

But the car is a radical departure for a company best-known for rear-wheel drive sedans and sports cars.

That departure expands to the car's underpinnings--it shares more with BMW's MINI brand than it does any current BMW production vehicle.

The MINI connection also extends to the Active Tourer's engine range, which includes BMW's new 3-cylinder, 1.5-liter gasoline powerplant, in addition to four-cylinder gasoline engines and a four-cylinder diesel.

Those engines are sure to make it one of the most frugal BMWs yet sold in the U.S. (no economy figures have been revealed just yet), though the MINI platform should ensure it handles as well as customers expect from BMW.

Whether they'll get used to the looks is a different matter.

You can click through the gallery above and form your own opinions, but suffice to say the Active Tourer isn't a product you'd truly desire, even if it doesn't look as ungainly in the metal as it does in photographs.

MORE: BMW's Small Front-Wheel Drive Models Confirmed For U.S. Launch

Its proportions are very similar to that of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class sold overseas--unsurprising, since the B-Class is probably BMW's closest rival with the new car.

The upright proportions are there for the benefit of cabin space--five adults should fit in comfort (not something that can be said of current smaller BMWs) and the trunk too is large enough for their luggage. There's even a seven-seat model planned.

An all-wheel drive xDrive variant is on its way for customers in snow belt states, while a hybrid model is also expected--consider that one an upmarket alternative to Ford's C-Max Hybrid and the Toyota Prius V.

U.S. sales of the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer are expected to begin in 2015.

Head over to our Geneva Motor Show hub page for more new car news and photo galleries.


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