Archive for March, 2017|Monthly archive page

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.