BMW has always gone to great lengths to extol the virtues of rear wheel drive cars, rigidly sticking to the same formula.
But the German luxury car maker also prides itself on automotive advancement so with the launch of its new 2 Series Active Tourer petrol/electric hybrid the time was right to make the change.
This generously proportioned, spacious family car is powered by a 1.5-litre, 134bhp, three cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels and an 88bhp electric motor driving the rear wheels.
It means that at times the car is driven by the engine, at times by the electric motor and often by a combination of the two giving it all the benefits of four-wheel-drive.
BMW claims the car is capable of a whopping 141 miles per gallon while at the same time keeping CO2 levels down to just 46gm/kl, a hefty bonus to company car drivers as well as avoiding road tax.
As an MPV this car was never going to be as sleek as most BMWs but the high stance and slightly domed roof do give a particularly spacious feel to the interior even when there are five people travelling.
In contrast the rally-style front seats in black with contrasting red saddle stitching, a leather-look dashboard with the same stitching and piano black inserts on the dashboard and doors give the inside a distinctly sporting appearance.
And while it is an MPV it’s one with attitude, accelerating to 62 miles per hour in just 6.7 seconds.
In practice it feels even quicker, particularly if you have selected sports mode and initial take-off is particularly quick, making it ideal at busy roundabouts and junctions.
The 225xe is also a very easy car to drive, highly manoeuvrable and with pin sharp steering.
It features a six-speed automatic gearbox which you can use in normal drive mode, in sport or manually.
To get the full benefits you need to be able to plug in and re-charge the car regularly but the engine and braking does generate some battery power so you are unlikely to ever be without total battery back up.
Like all similar hybrids the switch from battery to petrol power is seamless and only really obvious when the rev counter bursts into life or if you are in a particularly quiet area and you hear the engine cut in.
It’s a car which is very well equipped and easy to live with thanks to features like a head-up display, powered tailgate and electric heated front seats with memory settings.
Unlike on some hybrids there’s a sensible sized boot as BMW has managed to fit the lithium-ion battery under the rear seat rather than under the luggage area so you get 400 litres of space with the rear seatbacks in place.
There’s no doubt the Sport Active Tourer 225xe is a far more rewarding car to drive than I expected but the only real problem is the price.
If you want to help keep the environment clean I’m afraid you have to pay a premium compared to petrol and diesel alternatives.
Model: BMW PHEV Sport Active Tourer 225xe
Mechanical: 1499cc, 224ps three cylinder petrol engine driving all wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox.
Max speed: 126 mph
0-62mph: 6.7 secs
Combined mpg: 141
CO2 emissions: 46 g/km
Warranty: 3 years/100k miles