When the BMW FAST , short for Family Active Sports Tourer, was first spotted testing in Germany back in 2011, it was believed the new vehicle is scheduled to reach showrooms by 2014. That didn’t happen and the FAST prototype disappeared for a while, only to resurface again in 2013. Now, the vehicle that’s set to create a new niche took German streets once again, hinting that BMW is indeed readying a production version of the Family Active Sports Tourer.
For those of you that are not familiar with FAST, it’s a vehicle destined to sit right under the BMW X1 , giving birth to a new crossover niche that blends the flexibility of an MPV and the sporty looks of the next-generation X1 . It will share the same UKL platform with the upcoming X1 and 2 Series Active Tourer and carries the same front-wheel-drive configuration. While BMW is still mum on the details, we expect the Family Active Sports Tourer to break cover in 2015 and go on sale for the 2016 model year.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 BMW FAST.
Although the FAST is still in pre-production form, BMW has made several changes since the early prototype surfaced in 2011. The current model is longer and wider, and sports a more massive appearance. But don’t let its bulky shape full you, the FAST won’t be bigger than the X1, although its body will be slightly longer to go with its MPV-like nature.
However, figure the FAST won't stray too far from the current BMW styling and will borrow most of its cues from the X1 and the Series 2 Active Tourer.
The swirly camouflage, and the pre-production headlamps and taillights mounted on this prototype are less than helpful when it comes to identifying the vehicle’s design language. However, figure the FAST won’t stray too far from the current BMW styling and will borrow most of its cues from the X1 and the 2 Series Active Tourer. A massive kidney grille is visible at the front, while the headlamp sockets suggest a set of X1-like units will be joining the front fascia. Around back, expect the pre-production taillights to be replaced by larger units extending from the bumpers to the tailgate.
As hinted by the sticker mounted on the rear bumper of the prototype, the BMW FAST will benefit from a hybrid drivetrain. Although it has yet to be confirmed, power will come from the same 1.5-liter, three-cylinder engine and electric motor combo that BMW will soon launch in the 2 Series Active Tourer Plug-In Hybrid. The gasoline unit will be in charge of the front axle, while the electric motor will spin the rear wheels. We expect the drivetrain to generate around 200 horsepower and return at least 50 mpg combined. All-electric mileage should be north of 20 miles.
Naturally, the Family Active Sports Tourer will also come available in non-hybrid, gasoline and diesel flavors too. Expect a 136-pony, 1.5-liter, inline-three engine to motivate the base model and range of 2.0-liter four-bangers using either gas or diesel to power the rest of the lineup.
Why It Matters
What matters is that the FAST will create a new market niche that's likely to attract other automakers as well.
Finding a new niche in today’s automotive market is a tough thing to do, but BMW somehow managed to invent yet another segment. BMW says the Family Active Sports Tourer is a sports van, and we think it’s just compact crossover with a wagon’s rear end, but that’s not the point here. What matters is that the FAST will create a new market niche that’s likely to attract other automakers as well. Mercedes -Benz is the first name that comes to mind, as the Stuttgart crew shares the same passion for niches as BMW and has plenty of experience with all sorts of people haulers. For that to happen though, the BMW FAST would have to make an impact and prove its utility when it hits dealerships.