GENEVA -- BMW executives are convinced the new 2-series Active Tourer won't be a big seller in the United States, so they plan to wait at least 15 months before launching the vehicle there.
The five-door wagon, which shares its architecture with the new Mini Cooper hardtop, debuted this month at the auto show here and will go on sale in September in Europe. It is the first front-wheel-drive BMW car.
But U.S. buyers don't favor hatchbacks, says Frank Niederlaender, head of product management for BMW lower-series vehicles. They also want space, which the petite BMW has, but not enough to appeal in the United States, he said.
"We have to find the right timing," Niederlaender said.
BMW held back the slightly larger X1 crossover from the United States for three years because of its petite size. But the X1 has outperformed expectations. Last year, BMW sold 26,512 X1s in the United States, about 10,000 more than planned.
Still, Niederlaender said the even smaller 2-series Active Tourer is better suited for Europe.
At 171 inches long, the 2-series Active Tourer is 5.5 inches shorter than the X1. The 105-inch wheelbase is 3.6 inches shorter.
The Active Tourer is the first BMW to have a head-up feature that displays on a transparent screen that pops up above the steering wheel. The sharp angle of the windshield made it impractical to put the head-up display in the traditional lower left-hand side, Niederlaender said.
The Active Tourer is powered by BMW's new three-cylinder 1.5-liter engine that makes 136 hp. All-wheel drive will be an option.