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Archive for 2017|Yearly archive page

Best of Lydden – WRX 2017

In FORD, Volkswagen on May 28, 2017 at 10:59 pm

Saturday at Lydden.

A great day was had by all.

Unless you happened to be driving an Audi!

One factory car blew up.

One was crunched and didn’t get beyond the first corner in Heat 3.

The third was no match for the all conquering Polos.

 

Chessons Drift – Lydden Hill

In FORD on May 28, 2017 at 5:58 pm

Chessons Drift

My mate loved the McDonald’s Fiesta driven by the Belgian Guillaume De Ridder.

It was one of the fastest cars entered in the 2017 RX2 International class.

Here he leads his fellow competitors through Chessons Drift at the west end of the circuit.

 

North Bend – Lydden World RX

In FORD on May 28, 2017 at 4:49 pm

FIESTA

Full marks to folk running Lydden Hill motor racing circuit.

It seems to have escaped the worst excesses of the Health n Safety contingent.

On top of that Rallycross is not on most people’s radar.

Fancy a day at the British Grand Prix?  You’ll pay £250 to get in, and probably watch a procession with a shortage of good support races.

Want two days at Lydden, with cars that accelerate even faster and racing that’s utterly amazing?

Book in advance and you can see legendary drivers like Solberg, Loeb, and Block battling it out over two days for just £40.

Want to speak to the stars? Then hang out in the paddock, where there’s elbow room to look at the cars being fettled.  You can walk away with some freebies and chat to the drivers.

These Fiestas aren’t in the top tier, but were fabulous to watch.

 

Supercharged

In BMW on April 25, 2017 at 9:50 pm

Supercharged

Fifty three days ago I picked up a new car.

I’ve had turbocharged, and twin turbocharged cars, but never thought I’d be the custodian of a hybrid.

My little BMW 225xe Luxury Active Tourer has revolutionised my motoring, and it just keeps getting better.

Studio 16

From enquiry to installation it has taken over 2 months to get a fast charger installed in our garage.

I’m no longer playing with a 3 pin plug, and waiting 4 or 5 hours to get 18 miles of renewable energy.

roof

I’ve also beginning to understand the best driving techniques for optimum range.  Initially I conserved battery life “just in case I needed full power”.

My policy of saving electric charge until the end of each day with the intention of exhausting it on the final 13-18 miles of my journey home proved ineffective.

I’d often exceed the projected range and “miss out” on up to 8 miles of whisper quiet motoring.

Using all my powers of observation, and anticipation, and keeping off motorways has seen me harvest several extra miles onto my range.

Once I delighted in high speed dashes across the west country, but now I get my kicks at a more modest pace, and feel pity for the raucous sounds made by “boy racers”.

The diminutive petrol/electric vehicle is averaging 46.2 mpg and my average speed has dropped to 34 mph.

Over 107,000 miles my 320D did 53.1 mpg (using diesel) whilst averaging over 37 mph.

Filling up with motion lotion every 600 + miles was great, but the new outfit has “maxed out” at 372 miles in the early weeks of our acquaintance.

I’m sure I’ll top 400 miles on one fill up soon, as I adopt a more subtle approach with the pedals.

It’s seems strange, but after more than 4600 miles I feel I’ve barely unlocked the secrets of this machine.

Two new discoveries were made today.  Stuck in traffic on the M25 I was able to use the iDrive to look up a potential customer on the internet!

A sign written was in the outside lane, and now have a good lead to follow up when I’m back in the office.

Then on my way back from a trip to Worthing I thought I’d check out the “fuel app”.

IMG_3728

The iDrive app gave me a list of the fuel stations within  20 mile range, putting the cheapest at the top of my search.

AWESOME!

The Joy of Specs

In BMW on March 13, 2017 at 11:52 pm

Brand Spanking NEW

Just over a week ago I picked up a remarkable vehicle.

Okay, so you might say “It’s remarkably ugly”and you’d be right, but wait a minute.

Underneath the ugly duckling there’s a swan!

Thanks to the naughty boys at VW the tide has turned against smelly diesels, and the company has kindly let me buy a petrol engined car.

That tiny engine would normal nestle under the nose of a Mini, and pump out 136 bhp.  Surely that’s enough for someone clocking up 36,000 miles a year?

Mini Engine

No it isn’t! What I really wanted was a car with a spacious boot, and a bit of get up and go.

This particular BMW 2 Series Active Tourer has a raft of batteries under the back seat. Once charged these power the rear wheels leaving the diminutive engine to power the front axle.FRONT Ambient

If you like fiddling with switches the BMW 225xe Luxury Active Tourer will serve up 4WD, sprint faster than Linford Christie, or sparingly sip fuel from the 6 gallon tank.

Yes, this is our first Hybrid, and only the second long-term 4WD machine on the Biggs fleet.

You’d imagine I’ve ended up with a leaden people carrier more suited to a busty Mum than a busy executive.

Actually despite only the briefest of test drives several months back I’m delighted with what’s perhaps the most “niche” car within the BMW range.

Why are less than 300 of these are registered onto the UK roads in a typical year? Presumably because the 3 Series Hybrid looks the bees knees.

My particular example is a “mid-range” model, but has a raft of extras, as I specced it up with a host of extras.

Namely, Mineral Grey Metallic paint, Oyster Leather interior, Comfort Access, LED Headlights, Heated Steering Wheel, panoramic glass sunroof, upgraded Stereo, Sports Seats, and a few other things I can’t remember.

And a few aftermarket bits which have yet to arrive.

After 10 full days and over 1000 miles I’m loving it.

Good Bits.

Excellent Ride

Good Turning Circle

Silent Running for at least 20 miles each day

Comfy Seats

Fresh Air option

Weather on my Sat Nav maps!

Incredibly efficient re-routing when the “LIVE” Sat Nav spots hold ups

Plenty of oddments cubby holes

Restful Ambient Lighting

Transition between power sources is smooth and virtually undetectable

I’ll soon see my company car/fuel tax liability is about to drop by two thirds

Extraordinary how quickly a full charge can be re-generated on “SAVE” mode

It’s a joy to “manage” the harvesting of kinetic energy

Using the electric motor to power the machine beyond the predicted range.

Disappointing Stuff

“Wavy Foot” opening/closing tailgate feature (it tried to decapitate me occasionally)

Hazard warning device is not a patch on the equivalent Volvo systems – Missing real hazards whilst beeping if I’m stuck behind a bus in rush hour traffic

Battery weight makes the car ponderous on tight bends

Standard home charge cable is barely long enough

Total range on a full tank/charge half that of a 320D

Numb steering feel

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate Driving Machine?

In BMW on March 10, 2017 at 8:36 am

BMW 3 Series.

The definitive small executive car?

Take it from me, the 3 series is not necessarily the Ultimate Driving Machine.

Even the legendary 2 litre diesel doth not guarantee your 320 will be fun to drive.

In the last 6 weeks I’ve said goodbye to my plodding 320 D Efficient Dynamics Touring Auto.

I don’t miss it one bit.

The lack of driver involvement was simply shocking.In over 107,000 miles it never once felt happy going around a bend.

Over 53 mpg through the life of the car with a nigh on 700 mile range was good, but speccing my 3 series to achieve a low tax bill?  That was a big mistake.

Whilst it was satisfying driving to some far flung spot like Swindon and getting 66 mpg on an empty motorway, it was never fun.

Change the alloys, add a manual gearbox and then your 320 ED should be fun?  Er, no. Sombre black leather and a clutch pedal transformed a dull car into a horrid one!

Six hours after I was given the keys a nice man from BMW came and took it away.  What a relief.

Instead I was given a 7000 mile 320d M Sport saloon.  It was so good I even considered how I might juggle our finances, with the 125 M Sport and hang onto it after my new Hybrid company car arrived.

We all know that M Sport cars crash through all the potholes with all the subtly of a bull in a china shop.  Except the old cliches no longer apply.

This eager beaver (beemer) was quite capable on the winter ravaged roads of Sussex.

The professional Sat Nav was way better than a Business version in my 2014 car. The extra 25 horse power made forward progress a pleasure.

Sports Seats felt more comfortable, and playing with the throttle/suspension set up heightened the driving experience.

Eventually my new company car arrived, but in the interim I’d covered 4000 miles in this bright red M Sport Auto.

A rear view parking camera, flappy paddles gear box, and go faster red made it a true BMW.

Can my next BMW get anywhere near the age old BMW strap line?

Watch this space to find out.

2016 BMW 320D Touring E D Sport

In BMW, Uncategorized on January 28, 2017 at 1:05 pm

dunelm

Here it is, the 2016 BMW 320 D Efficient Dynamics, which was given to me on a  one month loan yesterday morning.

It certainly looks prettier than my dowdy 2014 320 Touring which has left my stable with over 107,000 miles on the clock.

The diamond cut alloys look the bees knees, and inside the car featured the Sports Seats that I skipped on my last company car.

inside

So what has two and a half years of development done to the venerable rep mobile?

The back end now has a different auto boot release switch (I never did discover why mine had two buttons and only one function), and the inside sported  slightly more detailed “Business” sat nav read-out.

Theoretically I should have thought the manual gearbox would serve up a greater sense of driver involvement, but in truth I found the stick shift better than the “launch edition” I tried several years back.

The old 320 notchiness has gone, but in truth any high mileage driver like me isn’t going to enjoy tooling around the South East with an extra pedal to push every few minutes.

Having settled into the “new” car I was surprised to get an urgent phone call.

My one month tenure was curtailed before the end of the day, BMW Head Office wanted this particular machine back.

I wondered what I’d get instead.