Big Nose – Small Bum

In BMW, Mercedes Benz on January 13, 2018 at 7:49 pm

NOSEI’ve never been that fond of the Merecedes Benz A Class.

Highlights in previous editions where;

  1. A tendency to fall over.
  2. A fabulous concertina style large sunroof
  3. The second edition was a quantum leap from the first
  4. The Third edition became available in an AMG 45 spec, great for hooligans.

My only personal driving experience in an A Class was an auto diesel in poverty spec, back in 2013.

It was woeful through corners, and felt immensely inferior to the equivalent BMW 1 Series I drove on the same day.

Fast forward to 2018 and what can I say about 9 hours in an A Class 180 Diesel Auto?

Well actually I really liked it.

Somehow it seemed far more alert to the helm than the one I’d tried in Cornwall.

The stalk operated auto, and stalk operated cruise control were certainly better than our own BMW 125 M Sport controls.

The seats were similar in design, but more comfy than those on our Beemer.

The Sat Nav was better (although our BMW is 4 years old – newer versions are better).

Economy was good, I averaged 50 mpg, and 27 mph over three days.

The automatic handbrake system worked well.

Lovely interior, soft sumptuous leather.  Fabulous illuminated Merc door sill logos.

cill crazy

Not so good?

I found it impossible to increase the volume of phone calls even after trying every knob and setting.

Once paired the car couldn’t assimilate all my extensive contacts.

That big nose still looks ugly.  I was surprised that the rounded “bottom” isn’t that roomy when the rear hatch is popped open.

1 + A

Perhaps the biggest surprise was Citroen Ami 8 levels of gutlessness away from the line, most noticeably at roundabouts.

Once up and running the smooth 7 speed box punted the car along just fine.

I found the cup holders too high in the centre of the car, and didn’t like the removable divider.


A great car, as this model draws close to being pensioned off it could prove a canny buy if a “deal” could be done.

8 out of 10

Well done Mercedes.






Driving the New Fiat Teapot

In Uncategorized on December 22, 2017 at 12:59 pm

IMG_7686Many years ago when money was short and unused holidays were plentiful I used to work for Hertz car rentals in Croydon.

I was paid for doing what I loved, driving.

Dropping off a Merc here, or ragging an Escort to the next drop off.

Honestly the car washing and hoovering were no problem.

We even had a team spirit, and did our best to get cars turned out on time.

Back in those distant days Fiat launched the ugly and unreliable Fiat Tipo.

In the rental trade we called them “Tea Pots”.

So when Sam needed wheels for Christmas I was delighted to get a chance to drive the reincarnated machine.

First impressions as a passenger were not favourable.

Every little imperfection in the road surface can be felt in the cabin.

The plastics are hard, and the tiny TomTom Sat Nav looks like an insult.

Outside things aren’t any better.

The designers picked the worst looking car in the class (BMW 1 Series) and decided to make it worse.

Now that we’ve had the machine for a few days I’m getting over my reservations.

The six speed manual gearbox is super slick, and unlike most old Fiat’s of my youth there’s no graunching as you select second.

As a mid range “Lounge” the 1.4 Tipo has loads of extras, and once it’s got into a high gear commendably little engine noise.

The steering has two settings, but I can’t see how to select the out of town mode. The City setting is light, and doesn’t give much feedback.

Just imagine for a moment that you’re trying to raise a young family on a tight income.  Now the TeaPot starts to make sense.

The one we are driving costs about £16,000 and has a 3 year warranty, big boot, and bags of legroom in the back.


It also sips fuel at about 40 mpg or better.

If you could suss out the TomTom, it would help you get to your destination.  It also has a DAB radio for 6 Music fans like myself.  Why it even sounds good with CLASSIC FM selected.

For the money I’m not sure there are many better cars, although I’d be swayed by either a better warranty from a Korean brand or big discount from Fiat.

My last observation.

It’s fiddly to wash.  There are too many contrived swathes, and recesses.

This car reminded me of my how easily I once washed my IMG_7683BMW 335i Se convertible.  All the smooth lines made it both pretty, and easy to clean.

Excessive detail only goes to spoil a car.


Surprisingly different – BMW 218D GT

In BMW on November 8, 2017 at 12:17 am

M4 2 GTThree hundred miles today in an Auto BMW 218D M Sport Grand Tourer.

Firstly well done Chandlers who were top notch when selling me my smaller 225xe Active Tourer, and equally good at 22,000 miles for my first service.

Today in heavy traffic, then heavy rain I had a 300 mile round trip to Bristol and Gloucestershire.

I’m not sure what my expectations were, but this is a remarkably different proposition to my 2 series.

Let’s run through the differences.

The most obvious? The size. My Active Tourer seats 5, the Grand Tourer seats 7.

What’s more the guys in the middle row have more legroom. My car and this both have the sports seats, with plenty of adjustment.  Mine seem harder, although there should be no difference.

Sat navAlthough both vehicles are of a virtually identical age this has no sat nav within the instrument binnacle, so a phone call wipes out any graphic indicator of one’s route.

The controls on the chunkier steering wheel are less easy to use. Today’s loan car came with a flappy paddles gearbox.

I tried them briefly, but this is more Monster Truck than sports car, and not what I’d consider useful.

Mine’s a “Luxury” and this is an M Sport.  What does that mean?

The blue car here has wider profile tyres, and a at slower speeds a less settled ride.

My 225xe is 4WD, petrol power up front (136 bhp) and up to 82 bhp battery power to the rear, the 218d has a 4 cylinder 2 litre 150 bhp diesel unit powering the front wheels alone.

You’d imagine this big blue machine would be lethargic, but in practice there’s plenty of shove.  Once on the move it’s more relaxing than my daily driver.

Which brings out another difference. Occasionally my rear wheels scrabble on our gravel track when I pull onto a busy road, but other than that it’s always well behaved.

The 2GT is nowhere near as refined on wet greasy road surfaces if you stamp on the loud pedal.  Attempt a quick get away in the wet and there are severe knocking sensations from the front end.

Once at 70 mph on the motorway the bigger car generally feels more secure, but once the roads were saturated the wide tyres seemed to aquaplane too easily.

Economy? Over 46 mpg on my hybrid, and only 41 mpg for the oil burning 218D auto, I was really surprised.

Bottom line.  Is the 218D Grand Tourer any good?

Absolutely. Although I’d rather have a sun roof than half the fancy M Sport features.  The screen on this one kept misting up.

One other unexpected bonus for the diesel, it was even quieter than my 3 cylinder petrol Active Tourer.  The only time the hybrid is less vocal being when the Active Tourer is in battery mode.