Why U.S. won't see BMW's first fwd car for now

The 2-series Active Tourer is 171 inches long, 70.9 inches wide and 61 inches tall.

GENEVA -- Why is BMW's first front-wheel-drive car, the 2-series Active Tourer, not coming to the U.S. market right away?

The crossover debuted at the Geneva auto show and goes on sale in Europe in October. It isn't likely to go on sale in the United States for at least 15 months.

BMW says the vehicle was designed primarily for Europe and the United States isn't crazy about five-door hatchbacks, despite the car's flexible seating.

"You have a lot of space and wide streets, and the X cars are much more useful," said Frank Niederlaender, BMW's vice president of product management for lower-series cars.

By X cars, he means the X crossovers that are longer, taller, wider and roomier.

The 2-series Active Tourer is 171 inches long, 70.9 inches wide and 61 inches tall. That's nearly the same size as the fwd Mercedes-Benz B-class Electric Drive hatchback that goes on sale here in June. Mercedes decided the B class could only sell here as a niche electric car. The argument is the same: Americans don't like small cars, particularly hatchbacks.

The 2-series Active Tourer shares an architecture with the new-generation Mini Cooper Hardtop that goes on sale here next month. There's little doubt that car will sell -- Mini has forecast 2014 sales will set a new record.

BMW won't bring the 2-series Active Tourer to the New York auto show next month to gauge public reaction. Instead, it will debut the X4, a new crossover with coupelike styling that's taller and, yes, roomier.

You can reach Diana T. Kurylko at dkurylko@autonews.com -- Follow Diana T. on Twitter: @dianakurylko

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